Blogging about life and raising our five kids with Down syndrome.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is it really a "Class" trip?

I'm giving you fair warning. This is a VENT, in a "feel sorry for me and my kid" kind of way. I'm angry, confused, and need to write a very carefully worded email which I'm not very good about in the first place! So....here we go.

The other day I posted about Angela's 8th grade class trip coming up in October. The cost is $1089. I can handle that. It'll be tight, but it's manageable. If I want my kid to go on the trip, I have to pay the fee, just like everyone else.

But...umm...who goes with her on the trip? She can't go without a 1:1. The forms say this is "not a school sponsored trip". hhhmmm how does that work?

First I talked to Angela's Special Ed. teacher. It's not her thing, so I didn't expect her to have the answers, but I was working my way up the ladder. She's NEVER had a student go on this trip, and she has no idea how it works. I, of course, wondered WHY none of the special ed. kids have ever gone on the trip.

Then I talked to the principal. I wanted to know the school's involvement in the trip. What money did the school have invested into it? Because if they have ANY, that makes it a "school sponsored" trip, which would mean there are some laws they're required to follow, like providing a 1:1 for a disabled student. WHELL!!! The trip is held during our state's 3-day state wide teacher workshop. (MEA for those here in MN) They don't pay for the mainstream teachers to go, nor do they pay their time on the trip. Nor do they have to find subs for them since it's held over MEA weekend. The chaperone fees are covered by the student trip fees. So, the district doesn't have ONE penny invested. It truly is "not school sponsored". This also eliminates the district from having to provide a 1:1 for any student that might need one.

So I called the tour company to find out how it's been handled for other students. Surely it has come up! This is a HUGE company that does this same trip for schools all over the country. "Well, we had one student last year, I think he had MD or something like that. He came with a nurse."

THEY HAD ONE STUDENT LAST YEAR??????? ONE????????

Something is wrong with this picture.

Do you know WHY they had ONE student? Because in order for me to send my child with a disability, it costs MORE THAN DOUBLE!!! Not only do I have to pay her trip fee, but also the SAME trip fee for the caregiver, AND AND AND....I'd have to pay that person for 72 hours of WORKING! I did find out I can cover the HOURLY wage for a 1:1, but not the trip fees.

So, if my kid were a typical 8th grader, it would cost $1,089 for the trip.

For my student with a disability, in order for her to participate in an activity with her peers (and have the same memories of her 8th grade trip that all the other kids will have) it will cost me $3,150. THIS IS MORE THAN MY TRIP TO BULGARIA!

Somehow...some way..this is wrong.

I understand that sending a caregiver means an extra seat on the plane, an extra seat on the bus, extra meals, hotel accommodations, and all of those things. I understand that. Those things cost money.

I don't think it's up to the school to provide the funds. I think it's up to the Tour company to do it. When the woman from the company told me they'd had one student last year, and I explained to her why, she didn't get it.

So, I need to write an email, but I need help with it. When I write stuff like this, I have a tendency to get a bit sarcastic, and it comes through. (surprise? Probably not!) So you know who my audience is, the email will be CC'd to the tour company, contact person (the 8th grade lead teacher), building principal, and special ed. teacher.

Any thoughts?

6 comments:

NDMom said...

Wow, Leah, I have never thought of things like things looming in our future. It makes me very sad and mad!

I don't have any words of wisdom to share, but I know you will come up with just the right words to say. You are a very good writer and by taking a deep breath and asking for others' help, I am sure you will come up with some thing awesome (& convincing).

Also, please know that I so appreciate moms like you who are paving the way for my daughters. You are doing a great service for all children with disabilities! So, all I can do for now is to cheer you on! You go, Leah!

Lisa said...

Leah,

I do have comments. Lots of them. And I have to think about how to put them together. What it comes down to is NON-DISCRIMINATION. It's actually a 504/ADA issue, and since Angela's on an IEP, she falls under the 504 provisions. My suggestion before you write this letter? To call a special education lawyer.

I spent yesterday in a 504 seminar with a high powered lawyer from Vermont. I learned a lot. This is so right along what we talked about yesterday.

ParkerMama said...

Leah,

You know, I'm seriously stumped. I'm not sure how this becomes a 504/ADA issue under the circumstances of the trip.

The only thing I can think of are:

1. If you can go on the trip with her. At least then YOU are getting some of the benefit of the money spent.

2. See if this class can somehow hold a fundraiser to raise the funds for a 1:1 to accompany your daughter.

Do you already know somebody who could be her as a 1:1?

What have they done previously for those who could afford to go? Did that child just not attend?

Alyssa said...

i agree..it is not right. I have no words of wisdom, just angry words running thru my head. I know you will write a very good letter and if you don't mind....could you email it to me so I can keep it for future reference??

Tamara said...

When I read your comment on my blog, I realized I must not have commented on this one. I think it's ridiculous. I know you'll get it changed, and I know she will have a great time in DC!

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. I read this earlier in the day and did not have time to respond then, and now it has been keeping me in deep thought. This is really a perplexing situation to me. I am just not quite comfortable with how easily the school district passes this off as a non event. Is this not the 8th grade class trip? regardless that it happens on three days that teachers have work days. This isn't a random trip planned by AAA or a scout troup or a church group. What percent of the 8th graders are staying home? That could be a useful statistic. I am rambling here, no real answers but like you I smell foul. The poopa of this is Sarah's 8th grade class had to cancel their trip to Washington because of 9/11. Instead they took a bus to Cinncinnati and a boat on the muddy Ohio River which neither she nor I were too thrilled with so we didn't sign up. So I can't even share what we did. I'm going to ask around and see what is happening here in our district with the 8th graders now.