Sunday, May 22, 2011

Samuel School Update #1

So, to make everything about as clear as mud:

This is the post I wrote about Samuel's annual IEP update, wherein I was once again frustrated that the teachers don't seem to be seeing the same things I'm seeing and what ends up on the paper doesn't really seem to be capturing the essence of the issues.

This is the post I wrote to sort of explain why my kids go to a charter school and why it would be really nice to have Samuel go there. If Samuel did not get into the charter school and was mainstreamed it would mean I'd be driving to 2 different schools at essentially the same times, twice a day. Plus one more time to pick up Elisabeth from half-day Kindergarten (just one of the reasons I really dislike half-day kindergarten -but that's a rant for another day). So I'd be driving back and forth to schools essentially 5 times a day. Now doesn't that sound fun?!?

And this is the post I wrote in Feb but just got around to posting today that explains the confusion that went into putting Samuel into the charter school lottery and then finding out he didn't get in anyway. We are currently still fervently hoping that someone else drops out and that we will get a spot.

Ok, oh one more thing. Sometime awhile ago the school sent home a notice asking all the parents of the small group LD group kids to come for an important meeting. With the school district special education supervisor. That's never a good sign. Turns out they are not continuing a small group class at this school and they are working on phasing out small group Learning Disabled classes period for grades 4-6 (or something. It's been awhile and I don't remember the details). But what that means for us is that no matter what we chose for placement, keeping him in small group, mainstreaming him to his local neighborhood school, or putting him in the charter school, he would be going to a new school. There would be no continuity of teachers, location, speech therapist or anything, no matter what. Ugh!

So. What I understood was that some time around May-ish, we would meet as an IEP team to determine Samuel's placement for next year, since that is something that is reviewed annually and wasn't really discussed at his IEP. Then we would meet in a transition meeting with his new school (wherever that ended up being). But before all that I wanted to meet one-on-one with his teachers to find out how they feel he is really doing.

So I wrote an email. I got a response from the regular ed teacher that he has been joining for science class. She said he does what is asked, but doesn't participate voluntarily. He doesn't speak to his peers, or raise his hand. When I probed for more info such as how he doing compared to the other kids in his class and whether she thought he could learn effectively in a reg ed classroom, she told me she hasn't seen him enough to give me that kind of information and that his Special Ed teacher would be more qualified to discuss that with me. Problem being, of course, the Sp Ed teacher does not have the opportunity to observe him in comparison with his reg ed peers and so cannot really give me that info either. So that wasn't helpful.

Then I met with his Sp Ed teacher. She said he is only about a half year behind academically and that he is doing so much better than his sp ed peers, she just doesn't think he should stay in the self-contained small group class next year. I brought up the possibility of holding him back and she said that the research doesn't support that as an effective option. We then brought over his speech therapist to get her opinion. She said he has had a really hard time concentrating and wanting to work in speech therapy lately and that she really worries about him being in a mainstream class. He would be overwhelmed and lost. Not that he would be lost as in clueless. But that they would lose him in the shuffle.

This was on Friday.

She recommended I get in touch with the school psychologist on Mon and try to meet with her and get her opinion.

And so I did.

Turns out it usually takes a few months to go through this process of evaluating whether or not to hold a child back. She gave me a whole flow chart of all the steps they would normally take. uh-huh. And she basically said "the research" does not support holding kids back. For any reason, really. She gave me an article from The American Society of School Psychologists (or something) giving a summary of this research. And she gave me a form with a bunch of questions on what we felt the benefits of holding him back would be, what our concerns are, what's already been done to try to help him, etc. And his sp ed teacher was given a similar form to fill out.l The school psych also said she didn't have a lot of personal experience (being fairly young) and so she would consult with the school principal, and they would bring it up in the special ed team meeting that afternoon and then we would meet again the following morning.

(to be continued . . .)

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