Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

School

You might get bored hearing me talk about school all the time this year, but I have a feeling it's going to be a frequent topic on my blog, so you've been warned.

I will start out by saying there are some school staff who read my blog, and they get a little crabby at me when I post about problems at school. I know better than to think that every school situation is 100% perfect, and my blog is my place to vent. Picture me with hands on hips as I say, " It's my blog, and I'll post what I want." As long as I'm not giving out the names of the school or staff, school is just going to have to deal with it. I also realize that what I'm posting is *my* perspective which is based on what information has come to me either through Angela or other avenues. That's all I can base my opinion on...my perspective. So as you're ready to criticize me for my perspective, remember that's how it's formed. And maybe, just maybe, if you're getting defensive as you read my school related posts, it's because you know things need to change.

My blog is also for other parents, those who may be coming behind us in this district, or who are just learning to navigate the world of special education in some other district in the country. I know that I'm a good advocate for my kids, but I also know I make mistakes. Maybe other parents can learn from my mistakes and my kids' successes.

Enough of the disclaimers already....

You may remember this post I made right before school started. If you haven't read it yet, it's short but will help you understand the rest of this post.

So the first day of school I called and left a message for Angela's special ed. teacher. I knew the first day was going to be pretty busy so didn't expect to hear back until later in the day since it wasn't an emergency. I did hear back from her later, about a different issue since she hadn't gotten my voicemail yet. (I just found out today....a week later and by a different staff person...that they've been having problems with voicemail and email retrieval.)

That phone call allowed me to ask the teacher some questions, like why there was no support staff at the Freshman Orientation? why didn't anyone meet Angela at the bus? Why didn't I hear from Special. Ed staff during workshop week so everyone was on the same page? And more....

So we've talked a couple times over the last week and each time I just feel more irritated. Her teacher left a message one day asking if I could send a communication notebook so she doesn't have to call everyday. HUH? 1) She's called twice. 2) In my opinion communication notebooks are not appropriate for high school. Angela rides the regular ed. bus, and as you all know, kids are not always nice. The last thing I want is for that notebook to get in the hands of some kid. I sometimes have to write some pretty personal information. (likewise, IEPS and similar documents should not be getting sent home with kids either!)
............

Ok, School started on September 6th, and I wrote the beginning of this post on September 12th. I never got around to finishing it because I've been so frustrated I've hardly been able to formulate my thoughts. Plus I'm back to school myself this fall, and there just is no time! I don't even know where to start anymore. When "gym" is nothing but playing Wii and walking on a treadmill (for three weeks, when it's BEAUTIFUL outside!) , when cleaning up after the entire rest of the school's lunchroom mess is a task put to the Special Ed. students as "job training", when we spent three years teaching Angela to use a planner, and I bought the one required for all Freshman, but I have yet to see it come home; those are just the "little things". I haven't even touched on the safety issues.

Let me just say this: Angela's school is in non-compliance in several areas of her IEP. Guess what? I'm a parent who checks up on these things! Still I keep hearing, "Nobody has ever brought this to our attention before." Seriously? Not one parent has held this school accountable to their child's IEP? I find that hard to believe. All the supports we had in place for Angela to be successful in school are gone. It's as if nobody has even read the IEP. I'm sure they must have, since that is their job, but it seems as if they haven't.

I am beyond frustrated, I am angry, and I am tired.

And Angela? She is completely loving school, and being a freshman!!!! There are such low expectations put upon her that it's just one big social hour. What's not to love?

We have a meeting scheduled for Monday. Just writing this post makes my blood boil so I don't expect the meeting to be pleasant.

4 comments:

Tamara said...

I feel your pain, gf. I can't believe how similar our issues are. You, however, have your ducks lined up better. I still need to find the time to line up the ducks and call another meeting. I hate this crap.

I really will never understand why there are no consequences for school staff that choose to ignore a legal document. It's especially upsetting to me because school staff are so big on our kids experiencing consequences. Seems exceedingly hypocritical to me.

Hope things get better for you. And - Shawen is just as happy as Angela. Low expectations, very little challenges - happy boy. Don't you ultimately think that's the issue? They really don't respect our kids enough to expect anything from them ... They just want them to be happy.

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

I am standing with you in great indignation and horror . . . You go get 'em!!! We are NOT still living in the dark ages and no one needs to be acting like we are!!

Tijana said...

I wish you success in this meeting. Parental love is so strong, so everyone will see how much you are right. We have a saying in Serbia "quiet water stone will be broken"....only slowly and everything will be solved! Best wishes

Hevel said...

Keeping our fingers crossed for you with the meeting, and generally with the school.