Take Back your Child's IEP
We don’t do that here, we don’t give one to ones, we don’t schedule our services like that? Sound familiar? It happens more often than not. What is most alarming is that these statements violates your child’s IEP and the right for the TEAM to discuss what is needed for your child’s Free Appropriate Public Education.
Take the statement “We don’t do that here.” Now this could be any type of service. Allowing a student a therapy room for example. Most students with Anxiety, ADHD and Mood Disorders need this, but never get the opportunity to have this as an option because schools make statements in their IEP meetings like, “We don’t do that here.” I talk from experience, as a special education teacher I saw the need of a therapy classroom for students. There were too many students struggling with Anxiety, ADHD, and Mood Disorders. I wanted to develop such a classroom, but was turned down by administrators and sadly turned down by fellow teachers. The need to fit all of these struggling students into their already perfect packed classrooms was the schools highest priority. How can we get these students to succeed in the regular education classroom with a teacher and an aide, an overloaded special education teacher and limited service providers? The answer is, you can’t! Sadly, most students went out of district or parents were so fed up with their child failing they home schooled their child.
I would be the wealthiest woman alive if I had a dollar for every time I heard a special Education Director, Principal, or Team Chair Coordinator say, We don’t give one to ones at our school.” Really? You are really making that statement without even thinking about the impact of the student you are supposedly suppose to be educating? Take a child on the autism spectrum who could function academically at grade level, however gets overwhelmed by their environment. You really think the alternative to the one to one is giving the child a free appropriate education by placing them in a autism classroom, or even an out of district placement? This child, who if had a one to one could have had access to the many group projects, Tech Ed, Science labs, readers and writers workshops, special presentations and so on and so on. They may have some of these classes in private special education schools, but not to the extend of a public or private typical school. And why should that child miss on that opportunity for learning? Because the school does not do one to ones?
As a special education teacher I dreaded the day we all sat down and made our schedules. It was the most stressful, most disappointing experience because the schedule never worked out. Some services always had to be given at a time that was not beneficial for the child and it just tore me apart all year. There was nothing you could do about it, that was the most painful part. You skip lunch, you don’t take your 1 hour prep time, but what ends up happening administrators just add more to your plate and it is a never ending juggle of servicing students without enough time in the school day. So I get it! I get when school districts make the statement, “We don’t schedule our services like that.” However, it has to change. Administrators need to hire more staff when numbers get too high and we as parents and advocates need to push to make a change.
The best defense I have to offer when school districts make these statements is to ask questions. How will you provide the services my child needs if you don’t do that here? How will my child get access to what is happening in the regular education classroom if my child is in the autism room? How will my child succeed in math if he/she is getting pulled out for OT? Ask for specifics, how much time, what time of day, which classes? Honestly, the district won’t be able to give an educated response to these questions because bottom line, the reason the district makes these statements is because they don’t have the funds to support these services. Services once offered for special needs students have declined at a growing rate. Decisions made in your child’s IEP should not be based by lack of funds. Take back your child’s IEP and ask these questions making the discussion about what your child needs and not what the school can provide.