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, October 20, 2011


I have some new readers here, and feel the  need to re-cap a bit of what is going on with Angela at school. This is old news for most of you, except for the last two paragraphs which is are an update. This is a very general description, and obviously I cannot give all the details due to privacy issues, but KNOW that if your child is in this same classroom, it would be in your child's best interest to review his or her IEP, along with the the service minutes for each area.

Transition meeting, Spring 2011: High school DCD teacher discouraged registration of certain mainstream classes, saying she "didn't know what would fit with Angela's schedule". Nevermind the regular ed. students had already registered for their classes. NO mention of the Work Experience program was ever made. Quite a lot of time was spent discussing the fact Angela has an extensive BIP (behavior intervention plan) in place and that all staff would need to be trained on it's implementation before school starts in the fall.

Freshman Orientation, Fall 2011: I had heard nothing from Special Education staff. Angela and I attended Freshman orientation and there was no support staff in place. Students break off from parents. Students get their pictures done, work on locker combinations (Angela uses a keyed lock which was not available to her.) get tours, find paws rooms, get schedules, etc. Parents take care of "shopping" and the writing of unending checks. I sent Angela with the other students and stayed with the parents. It was not appropriate for her to go through this experience without support staff in place.

First day of school: I have not heard anything from special ed. staff. No idea who is to meet Angela who rides the regular bus. The first morning is confusing as the schedule is very is very different from normal. (not that Angela knows the regular schedule yet!) Angela is "missing" for the first 1/2 hour of school and is found wandering the halls by another DCD student and brought to the classroom.

Second day of school: I find out Angela is playing Wii in DAPE. In my opinion, totally inappropriate for school. It is HOT outside, so that is out of the question, but for the first two weeks students are using the treadmill and wii in phy ed instead of the gym? Also, called school to find out why Angela is in the work experience program when I have not given approval for this. It is not on her IEP. Question of what tasks are being done by the DCD students as part of the Work Experience Program that could be viewed as "demeaning" tasks by mainstream students since they involve cleaning up after other students.

Second week of school: Have asked again why Angela is in the Work Experience program when it is NOT in her IEP. Also, Angela brings a note home from school saying, "Angela needs a keyed lock." No indication what the lock is for (phy ed locker or regular locker. ) Call school and find out this is for her regular locker. Inform DCD teacher reading the IEP would be a good idea since "keyed lock" is on her IEP and is to be provided by school, and why are we in the second week of school and she still doesn't have a lock on her locker? Angela is playing Wii in DAPE a couple times per week, as well as in the Work Experience program. Request IEP meeting.

September 26th, IEP meeting: Again ask why Angela is in this program. I want her out of it. Ask why supports and modifications listed on her IEP have not yet been implemented such has her behavioral supports listed on the BIP, alphasmart for keyboarding since she is unable to write, why it took two weeks to get her a keyed lock on her locker and I had to argue with the DCD teacher about it, why there are no supports in place for DCD freshmen attending orientation, why are there no spelling or vocabulary lists coming home...and the list goes on. WEP staff spends great deal of time and energy during the meeting explaining the WEP program and how wonderful it is. (which I have no doubt it is, but as a freshman I don't think the focus needs to be on job skills just yet, how about we get her writing her name legibly, and spelling beyond a CVC level, and take advantage of the fact she finally has an interest in reading????) DAPE and WEP teachers admit that Angela is playing Wii in both classes. Up to 3 hours per week could be spent playing Wii. (But you know "It's a wonderful social experience playing with 10 people at a time versus alone at home!") I can't help but wonder how the regular ed. parents would feel if their child was spending so much time playing video games? Also, the planner all freshman are required to buy is not being used. Nobody has seen it, although it was sent the first day of school. It's been sitting in her locker every since. Apparently the DCD staff doesn't use the planner. Sadly all the years of training our kids to use a planner was for nothing. Also, while discussing the Behavior plan DCD teacher expresses reluctance in implementing the plan since they have not seen any behavioral issues since school started. I make a comment about this more than likely being because their expectations are too low but am assured their expectations are plenty high for Angela. Later that week support staff will be trained on implementation of BIP.

Last week of September: Angela finally brings home a spelling list. Not all of the words are appropriate to her ability level. Email to ask why she still has no vocabulary works coming home like the regular ed. freshman do. Also why is the planner still not being used?

First week of October: No spelling list. No vocabulary list. Nothing in written in planner. Emails sent about all 3 issues. Email sent to admin staff again listing my concerns and requesting another meeting about ongoing issues of non-compliance with the IEP.

Second week of October: Finally planner is being school a communication notebook. Send an email to staff reminding them that it is NOT a communication notebook. It is for Angela, with adult assistance, to write what she is supposed to be doing each day, not for school staff to write things such as "had a great day." No spelling lists home this week although I sent no less than 3 emails about it. Finally received a response that they are giving students independence this year. GREAT! Apparently it's more independence than she's capable of since they're not coming home!!!! Email Admin staff and request another meeting about continued non-compliance with the IEP, including the fact Angela is STILL in the Work Experience Program even though the district website states in two different places placement into this program is a "team decision" but I as the parent was not made part of this team decision although I am part of the IEP team. Also this same week, logon to student portal and see that there are unexcused absences for times Angela has not been out of school. They are on days when she came to school a little late after dr.  appointments, but afternoons show absences when she should have been back in the DCD classroom.

October 17th: Morning: Bring Angela to school later after dr. appointment. Sign her into attendance office and ask about unexcused absences in the afternoon. Am told, "When a student is out in the morning, that particular teacher marks them absent in the afternoon also, regardless if they're in class or not."

Seriously? Angela misses A LOT of partial days for doctor appointments, these spotty absences showing up here and there can get the county truancy officers knocking on my door! On my way out of the building touch base with the assistant principal who happens to be working in the hallway and ask  her about this. She informs me there was just a meeting held about this same issue. Interesting. I make it clear I am NOT happy with the current situation with this staff person, which she already knows.

October 17th: Afternoon: Receive a phone call from DCD teacher. She has just now, in the 7th week of school, gotten around to reading the IEP and realized the Work Experience Program, where Angela has spent a significant portion of every day for the past 7 weeks, is not on her IEP.

GASP! REALLY???? Have I not been saying that for SEVEN WEEKS and she is JUST NOW looking at this?

Make phone calls and send emails to necessary administrative staff about the now very serious issue.


I have since had phone conversations and email exchanges with both building and district special education administrative staff. We will be having a conciliation meeting next week. I have been assured that this very serious issue of IEP non-compliance is being dealt with severely. However, because this DCD staff person has been in such gross non-compliance on one IEP, there is reason to believe there are issues with all IEP's she is responsible for. It is ALWAYS important, every single year, to check your child's IEP, and never assume that your child's case manager is doing what they're supposed to be doing. The vast majority absolutely have your child's best interests at heart. Unfortunately there are a few here and there who are there for a paycheck and nothing more. Maybe they started out doing the job because of their love for the students but somewhere along the way either they lost their ability or they lost their drive. I know that we are not the first family to have issues with this staff person. Hopefully nobody will ever have these issues again.

Obviously, for the purposes of privacy, both Angela's and the teachers, I cannot give all the details, but I can tell you the issues of IEP non-compliance are very serious. But, I will say this again, please, particularly if your student is in this program, follow up on you're child's IEP. Also, if you have friends with students in the program, it wouldn't be a bad idea to compare their IEP's and make sure they're not "cookie cutter" in appearance. Remember these are "Individualized Education Plans" which means they should reflect each individual child, not every child enrolled in one particular program.

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