Monday, November 03, 2008

Signs That Your IEP Will Suck

When you start out your (FIRST)(transitional) IEP meeting and the principal greets you with, "Don't think there will be this many people here for Bubbles' IEP ever again!", it is probably not a good sign and your bad omen feeling of walking into an antagonistic situation is correct.
Run away.

Because in a moment, it may come up that you did in fact, ask for a copy of the IEP to be viewed 48 hours before the meeting, and why didn't you get it, the principal will look at everyone who was present at the IFSP meeting (in which she made this agreement), glare at them, and blatantly lie as she says to you, "I never agreed to that. I said I would try to get you a copy."

And your lip may quiver a bit, because you know she is wrong and already being intimidating and the meeting just started, so why do you have such a bad feeling about what is about to happen?
And then you will remind her that you asked for this copy five whole weeks ago, and why wasn't five weeks enough time, and she will get very angry with you for mentioning this in front of the nine other people there and raise her voice just enough to toss a hint of derision in, "No, it was actually THREE WEEKS ago." and then when you try and correct her, you will realize that she is loudly calling you a liar and you are wondering why you have such a bad feeling about this.
Traditionally, the IEP is the time for negotiation, but this truly is a grey area. They may negotiate, or you may be faced with a principal (like ours) who refuses to negotiate solely because there is an audience of nine other professionals, and she has a 'precedence' to maintain.
When you suggest to the someone on the IEP team that you don't like to negotiate and can't you just tell them what your son needs so you don't have to play games, and they insist that IEP meetings are for negotiating, you may believe them.

So you may be surprised at the meeting, when the principal says to you, "What we are prepared to offer you is this." And what she really means is, this is it. There will be no negotiating.
And then proceeds to refuse to listen to anything you have to say because she will not negotiate, and what they are prepared to offer you is ONLY this and nothing more, so don't ask.

If you, in your misguided attempts to negotiate, suggest that you know something about the funding allocations of your school district and you notice your principal begin to turn red and sputtery and her mouth opens and she begins spewing out unconnected phrases about funding and precedence, remind yourself that she is not supposed to be talking about why they can not afford to pay for your child, and you should RUN AWAY.

When you become tearfully intimidated and realize that everyone is staring at you because you just said you did not wish to sign the IEP, your friend who came along to offer her support and her stellar negotiating skills may notice that you are upset and scribble a note to you. You may scribble a note back to her, because you are, after all, both caught unaware and at the disadvantage since you did not receive a copy of the IEP before the meeting and it is not going very well at all. When you scribble your reply to her, if your principal interrupts the person talking at that moment to address you by saying, "Excuse me ladies, would you like us all to take a break so that you two can continue to have your little communication over there that is apparently so important that it cannot wait?"
...And you are speechless as you look up in horror at what she just did...this would be a great opportunity to RUN AWAY.

When the facilitator of the meeting, the school psychologist, begins spewing and spitting and turning red as he challenges the credentials of the behavioral psychologist who has been working (successfully!) with your son for a year, this is a good sign that it is time to RUN AWAY.

When you state again that it is not an acceptable package and you do not wish to sign it, and your principal threatens that your child will suffer if you do not sign it, this is the moment at which you must get up and leave the meeting.

When you walk out of the meeting, trembling and angry and smacked down and overhear the school psychologist saying something to another professional which proves that he lied to you about the 'special school' he sent you to a few weeks ago (yes, it really is a school for children with autism, and he knew that when he answered 'no' to that specific question when you asked it), it is time to cut your losses.
Go home, and write down all the facts. Fire the school psychologist.

Fire whomever you need from your team.
You have to work with the principal, but she will be dealt with too.
Especially since you know now that two separate people have filed a formal complaint about her performance, intimidation tactics, and all around glaring lack of professionalism at your meeting.

Go back the next day and SUCK IT UP for your kid.

Bubbles will receive three hours per week of 1:1 speech therapy with the guru.
We will pay for the transition time from ABA therapy to traditional SLP, since the school district categorically refuses to pay one penny of it. NOT based on my son's need, but to quote the principal, "If we did it for you, then every one would expect it!"

Such trendsetters are we.


InTheFastLane said...

That is complete suckatude. Seriously, these people seem to be only trying to save money. Which, I know happens, but to not even be nice about it?

Candy said...

So much for No Child Left Behind. The principal's attitude is completely out of line, but the truth is, the federal government mandated a lot of things that schools must do and gave them no money to do it with.

I'm so sorry that they were that horrible to you. There is absolutely no excuse.

Anonymous said...

I am completely at a loss...Honestly I would be furious and take this to the school board, along with your friend as a witness to the school board. Also take a tape recorder if you have another meeting and record the whole thing so there can be no going back on words. I am so sorry...

Lauri said...

Can't believe that she and some of her minions can get away with those kinds of scare tactics!! However, somehow I know that you and Bubbles (especially Bubbles) will finish on the winning end of things, cause you will settle for nothing less!! Apparently you aren't the only ones who felt she was inappropriate...good luck to her is all I can say...Bubbles is very lucky to have you...

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I don't care if the school can't afford it or not that is no right to treat you like that. I would so be getting a lawyer and filing complaints and calling the local news to raise a huge stink. Oh... nice to meet you, I'm from Laura's blog.

Anonymous said...

I would seriously consider home-schooling at this point...

wrongshoes said...

I hope this does not seem insensitive, but WHY are you dealing with these people at all? Either they're totally incompetent, or the system is totally broken. I'm with anonymous - you are infinitely more competent qualified to manage his education.

wrongshoes said...

competent AND qualified

MichelleB said...

I agree home schooling may be the answer.

I home school my son. He's a smart kid and recently he and my hubby bought me gorgeous diamond necklace from for my birthday over the weekend.

We taught him how to read at an early age so he helped by reading which piece of jewelry to buy!

Mama Deb said...

WTF? I will say that no matter what we've gone through, everyone has always been kind and respectful. I am so very sorry that you had to deal with someone who was not those things. I'm glad you had a friend with you to lean on. Wow. Just wow.

gwendomama said...

My son is in preschool. It is in his best interest for me to keep him in private preschool and pay for that myself, because then I have leverage to ask for the 1:1 speech services. I can afford preschool, but the speech services cost considerably more.
I do know what I am doing. some of the time.

Shelley said...

It's great to get 3 hours of 1:1 therapy, congrats on that. It's terrible how the principal acted. I have seemed to notice a trend - these "professionals" get really pissed when they are confronted with a parent who has half a brain and isn't complacent to just do whatever they say you should do versus what is best for their child.

fairymama said...

I wish I could plant my boot firmly up that wenches a$$. What a freakin' idiot.

Tricia said...

Next time- bring more support!

I'd be happy to make the drive and sit beside you!

The piece that really pisses me off? Not that you asked... When the principal treated you and your support person like two little school girls- putting you in your place. Ewww.. gets me fired up!

Emily said...

Oh wow. I'm so sorry you went through this. I thought I had it bad just TRYING to get an IEP DONE. I actually had to threaten to get a lawyer and my son's teacher almost got fired (he was very much on my side) to even get in the door. It is a shame they do this because yes, it does effect kids, especially when the people who SHOULD be doing their jobs seem to try and avoid doing them.

RuthWells said...

Sue the f&&krs. Honestly, get a lawyer. A parent in my district with an Asberger's son successfully sued our school district, which is now paying for the boy to attend a private school for special-needs kids, which a teacher-student ratio of 1:5.

Get a lawyer, and good luck.

Aunt Jennie/Dee-Dee said...

You need "the BOSS" of Seattle who is now in CA!!!!

And yes...get a lawyer!

datri said...

I'm so sorry you had such a sucky IEP meeting. And this is just for preschool? Ugh. Time to get an advocate.

MFA said...

At our most recent IEP meeting, my four-year-old son, whose expressive verbal skills could use some work (he sounds about two and scatters his words all over the sentence in random order), was denied Speech Therapy. Before signing, I made them write in the space of "other concerns" that "mother requested speech therapy and expressed concerns about ____'s speech; services denied based on blah-blah-blah." Lame and ultimately fruitless, but NEXT year when they say my boy don't talk pretty enough for mainstreaming into kindergarten, I want to be able to fall back on "but see here where I SUGGESTED that we do something about it? How about we mainstream him, but actually give him some help with Speech this time around so that he can talk pretty by NEXT year?" It made me feel SLIGHTLY better about the whole thing (that one no haz got Apraxia, though, and is in fact autistic).

I found it rather striking, how much better he scored with the local Children's Hospital's evaluation team than with the school's team--perhaps because they conducted their assessment with fun, tantalizing games instead of barked orders to draw a line on the paper..."can you put the crayon down like this and ZOOOOOM it across the paper like I just did? Like a car? AWESOME! Here is a sticker!" Sooooo much more effective. They also noted that while his pronunciation is off and he does in fact fall apart in sentences, when taken one word at a time he was slightly AHEAD with his expressive language. So can talk pretty, he just can't pay attention (he can haz ADHD too).

Oh, the joys of the IEP. Sorry to hear you got ambushed like that. My boy has a rockin' Educational Therapist who has been working with him since he was two, and looks out for him like a grandmother lioness. We big-puffy-heart her.