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Another Footnote in the Ongoing School District Saga
A few weeks back I wrote about a letter we had received from the school district following up on the proposed IEP the district drew up for Finn. In a nutshell, the letter:
Summarized the proposed IEP;
Expressed a willingness to arrange for us to visit the preschool in which the district is recommending Finn be placed, if we wished;
Denied our request to receive information about or visit other preschool programs; and
Suggested we move forward in the process by arranging a meeting with the IEP “team.”
Michael and I visited the proposed preschool placement on our own, which I wrote about here. We followed up that visit with an email to the “Program Coordinator” (I don’t know exactly what this means; she’s the one we’ve mainly been communicating with and who, I guess, is the one coordinating the meetings and so forth. She is employed by the school district, but I really don’t know what her official capacity is – teacher? therapist? secretary?) giving our availability to meet with the IEP “team.”
I don’t know why, but for some reason, although I still find myself very frustrated and, frankly, pissed off, at the way this entire process has been handled by the school district from the beginning, I had thought that maybe, just maybe, we would be moving forward from here in a more cooperative atmosphere. Silly me.
We got the official Meeting Notice in the mail two days ago:
Two things stood out glaringly to me: that they plan to have TEN people there (on their side), and that one of those people will be the school district’s attorney. When we received the initial notice of IEP way back in June, we were put on notice that the district planned to have its attorney present at the IEP, and it pissed me off then. But things had already reached such an adversarial tone by then that it almost wasn’t surprising. The fact that they now still plan on having their attorney present tells me that they still plan on our relationship being adversarial and not collaborative.
I was furious when we got this a couple days ago. We sent the Program Coordinator an email expressing our objection to the district’s intent to have its legal counsel present at the meeting and that we don’t want, nor is it necessary, to have anyone present at the meeting who doesn’t have direct knowledge about Finnian and input about his educational placement.
So today we got a phone call from Ms. Program Coordinator. Michael took the call, and unfortunately, I only got his side of the call (I kept telling him to put her on speaker phone but he wouldn’t because I was so riled). Apparently she called to address our objection to the district having its attorney present at the upcoming meeting. She told Michael that they plan to have their attorney present because we’ve raised “legal concerns” – specifically, we’ve asked her for the code section that mandates an initial IEP meeting to be held by a child’s third birthday – this in direct response to her telling us over and over that the law mandates that the initial IEP be held by the child’s third birthday. She’s never produced such code section, and frankly, we’ve never found on our own a specific code section that states that an initial IEP “must” be held by a child’s third birthday (it seems to be more of a guideline than anything else; in any event, this is the whole reason the district held Finn’s initial IEP meeting without us – because the date they provided us with was not feasible for us and they were more concerned with holding the meeting by his third birthday than with having us, his parents, present at said meeting.
Anyway, so that’s the gist of our “legal” concerns – a request for a code section that backs up what she’s been insisting to us is the law. And that, apparently, justifies the district having its attorney present at the meeting.
She told Michael during their phone call that they would like to keep the discussion at the upcoming meeting limited to matters directly pertaining to Finn’s education. Michael told her that we do plan on bringing up concerns that we’ve brought up repeatedly in writing over the last several months which have never been addressed or acknowledged by the school district. She said if we want to discuss our concerns, we need to arrange a separate meeting with her and the Director. Really? Really?!?
She also told Michael that, “Frankly, Mr. Morguess, the Assessment Team is intimidated. Doesn’t that concern you?” Is she fucking kidding? They are intimidated? Michael told her, “No, that’s really not my concern. Wouldn’t you think that we might be intimidated, seeing that it will be the two of us opposite ten of you, including your attorney? Doesn’t that concern you?” Know what she said? “No, it doesn’t concern me. You don’t strike me as someone who would be intimidated.”
My level of dumbfoundedness and frustration and pure, unadulterated anger, continues to rise. This meeting next week? It’s not going to go well.