When last I updated, we had sent a letter to the school district outlining a number of concerns we had regarding the manner in which the school district conducted its assessments of Finn, and the fact that we were (are) being rushed through the transition process. In that letter, we also restated the request we had made at the so-called Transition Meeting (which had turned out to actually be the first round of assessments) that the school district get draft assessment reports to us a week before the IEP, which at that time had been unilaterally scheduled by the school district for June 28. After our letter went out, I received a phone call from the Director of Assessments (or Program Coordinator – she has identified herself as both), who informed me that the draft assessment reports would not be available to us a week before the IEP, but that they would be mailed to us on Thursday, June 23. I told her that, given the fact that that would mean we wouldn’t receive them until Friday at the earliest, and we would be out of town over the weekend, that was not enough time for us to review the reports and request any changes we might think appropriate, so we would need the IEP to be rescheduled. She told me during that phone conversation that the school district would send us a letter to reschedule the IEP, and would also be addressing the concerns we outlined in our letter.
Here is a summary of what has transpired since then:
- The draft assessment reports were not sent to us until June 24 (Friday – according to postmark date), via certified mail. The package came on Saturday, but since we were out of town, I was not able to pick the package up from the post office until Monday, June 27 – one day before they had originally planned to conduct the IEP. With the reports was a letter informing us that the school district is “required to assess in all areas of suspected need” (my emphasis) and urged us to consent to the assessments we had previously declined; included was a new consent form checking all the boxes for the assessments we had previously declined.
- Under separate cover, also by certified mail, and also not received until Monday, was a letter from the school district, informing us that the IEP must take place prior to Finn’s third birthday, which is July 7, and that the IEP would be conducted on either July 5 or 6 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., and we were to choose one of those dates.
- There was nothing addressing any of the concerns we outlined in our letter.
- After receiving this deluge of paperwork and being asked to reconsider consenting to the additional assessments, and wanting an opportunity to carefully review the draft assessment reports and make changes and/or possibly request an independent evaluation, and after reviewing our respective calendars, it was clear that July 5 and 6 were neither reasonable nor possible. Additionally, it’s summer break anyway and we’re just not in any hurry to get Finn enrolled in any type of program during the summer. In a phone call with the Director of Assessments, Michael told her that we are willing to waive the timeline to have the IEP conducted by Finn’s third birthday. He also asked her how it would even be possible to conduct the IEP in such a short time if we did end up consenting to the additional assessments, and she admitted that it wouldn’t be possible, in fact, to conduct the additional assessments and the IEP by July 7. We followed this phone conversation up with a letter, confirming in writing that we would waive our right to have the IEP conducted by Finn’s third birthday, and that it would benefit everyone involved if the IEP were postponed.
- In response to that letter, which was emailed this past Tuesday, the Director of Assessments called me at home on Wednesday stating that the school district would not, in fact, postpone the IEP any further, and that it must take place prior to July 7. I asked to speak to her superior at that point, but when she put me on hold, I hung up because I was so pissed. So I called Michael at work at that point and told him about the phone call. He then called her and was told the same thing – that the school district would not postpone the IEP past Finn’s birthday next week. She said that if they did, then the school district might be sanctioned by the state. Michael asked her for the statute on which the school district was basing its position. She responded by telling him that she would not discuss the law with him. He told her that by stating that the school district “could not” postpone the IEP past Finn’s birthday, she was in fact discussing law, and he wanted a cite to a statute. She said she would have her director call him back.
- After the phone call, Michael said in passing to one of his colleagues, “You don’t happen to know any educational attorneys, do you?” His colleague said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.” He gave Michael the name and number of someone who, it turns out, is not actually an attorney, but who worked for a number of years as a director of a local SELPA (now retired). Michael was able to talk to this guy on the phone who had a lot of valuable input, including advising us to stand our ground on declining the assessments we already declined, as well as advising us that while we can’t actually waive our right to have the IEP conducted by Finn’s third birthday, we can inform the school district that we are just not available on either of the dates they proposed, in which case they will have to reschedule the IEP. He also said that he will put us in touch with an advocate with whom he has been very impressed.
- We emailed another letter to the school district yesterday morning informing them that we are not available on either of the dates they proposed next week and, in fact, due to various previous commitments and childcare issues, we will not be available for an IEP until August, and we proposed three dates.
- Michael received an email late yesterday afternoon in response to our letter of yesterday morning, which states:
Dear Mr. Morguess: Pursuant to your request for legal education code regarding the postponement of the IEP, please refer to your procedural safeguards which was included with the initial transition paperwork sent to you by Kellie White and again was enclosed in my June 24, 2011 letter. The IEP team will be proceeding with the IEP meeting next week in order to meet the mandated timeline. In the event that you do not attend the meeting, a copy of the proposed IEP will be sent to you for your review.Attached please find two revised IEP meeting notifications as our District legal counsel has been added to the notices and will be attending.