Seriously, have you ever seen a transition happen in so many parts?
Last I wrote, the school district had informed us under no uncertain terms that they would be holding Finn’s IEP before his birthday, with or without us – and with their legal counsel present – despite our protests that we were not going to be available on either of the dates they said they were going to conduct the IEP. We followed up with this letter to the school district.
I believed in my heart of hearts – naively, apparently – that after we sent that letter, clearly citing the legal authority that protects our right as Finn’s parents to be present at the IEP, that they would not go ahead and conduct the IEP without us. After all the research we did and the people we talked to, including a former SELPA director who we met for lunch and talked to at length and who is so appalled by the situation that he wants to step in as an advocate for us, it just seemed inconceivable that the school district would escalate what has already become such a terrifically adversarial situation further.
I was wrong. We were wrong – all of us who thought they couldn’t or wouldn’t have Finn’s IEP without us.
I was out most of the day last Wednesday – the day before Finn’s third birthday. When I got home with the kids in the afternoon, there was a voice mail message from our Regional Center Service Coordinator saying that she had received a call from the school district saying that they were going ahead with the IEP at 2:00. Her message was left on our voice mail a little after 1:00. By the time I got the message, the IEP was already in full swing – or probably over. That morning, our new advocate friend had been making phone calls to his connections on our behalf – to the director of our SELPA area board, to the school district Program Coordinator, and to the school district’s legal counsel. He had hoped to reason with them for us, but he was never able to get through to anyone. He was able to confirm for us later in the day that they had, in fact, held the IEP without us.
So we were robbed of the right to request modifications to the assessment reports. We were robbed of the right to request an independent evaluation, had we felt that to be warranted. We were robbed of the right to contribute input to Finn’s IEP. We were robbed of the right to participate in the meeting as the two people who know Finn best.
And here’s another kicker: nearly a week later, we still have not received the fucking proposed IEP they drew up. I assume that had we been at the meeting, they would have had it sitting right there for us to take home and ponder – am I wrong? But they haven’t bothered to, or been able to, for whatever reason, get it mailed to us yet. Michael finally called yesterday and left a message for the Program Coordinator inquiring when we can expect to receive the proposed IEP. She called him back this morning and said she would “try to get it in the mail today.” Really?
There are parents out there who are advising us to do what we can to get along with the school district, to trust that they have Finn’s best interests at heart. While I see their point, I am having a whole lot of difficulty with it. I know this isn’t personal – the school district isn’t setting out to target Finn or us – I know that. However, they have screwed us at every turn so far in this process. How many other kids/families are they screwing? Change isn’t brought about by lying down and taking it. While I understand the logic of not setting the tone for what is going to be a very long-term relationship as adversarial, the fact is that they set that tone right out of the gate. They have made no effort whatsoever to even give the appearance of trying to work with us. And as a result, we are left feeling frustrated and angry, and wondering just what the hell we’re supposed to do in order to protect Finn’s rights and get along with a system that doesn’t care to get along with us.