Thursday, July 9

President Obama, Can We Chat?

This IEP process sludges on. Three months. And Counting. We still do not have a date for Drew's Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE), and heaven forbid the school district would want to show any sense of urgency to complete it. After all, Drew may not even have a disability, as has been asserted by our school district.

Drew's Dad and I are at the point now where we could care less about what we post here in print. As Drew's Sister says, the whole process is "diculous," aka ridiculous. And we have been through so much with this process, from knowing the IDEA like the back of our hand, to knowing how to file a formal complaint with the Department of Education (yes, we've had to do that), to understanding the qualifications for an IEP and recognizing blatant violation of our rights. At this point, we know the process so well that we hope to help others as advocates in the future.

All of this has me thinking, why is this process so complicated that it looses all focus on the child and becomes a struggle over money and (unavailable) resources? Naturally, I want to start at the top: President Obama, if you want to reform education and make sure that all children are receiving a free and appropriate education, you need to take a look at special education. Why are the funds to educate special needs children being distributed to school districts? The same school districts that are responsible for evaluating and assessing the needs of the child? Doesn't this seem like a huge conflict of interest? It certainly does to me.

Now I know I am just a parent (as I've also been told by the district), but it doesn't take a genius to see how flawed this whole IEP/Special Needs Education system has become. In order to qualify for the funds, the school district must assess the needs of the child. Well, don't you think that the school district is going to find the most minimal needs the child has in an attempt to secure funding? And how does the goverment make sure that the funding is spent on the services it was intended for? Even though the process, as stated in the law says that the special education support can not be based on money, isn't that really what we are all talking about? (In our case, I know it to be true, since our District Special Education Director, at our 120 Transition Meeting said, "Ultimately, it all comes down to money.")

And what is created out of this entire situation, President Obama? The feeling that parents are worthless, unnecessary players in the education of their children, and that the school district is a dictator that will control all services and funds the child receives. It is disgusting. I created this child, love this child more than anything else in the world, and yet I am inconsequential in the decisions being made about my child's education.

So, the question is, what changes should be made in the special education system that will put the focus back on the child, instead of the dollar? I don't have all of the answers. But I can guarantee you that I would spend the money on my child's education appropriately. Wouldn't you, if it were your child? Someone, Mr. President, needs to recognize how broken this process has become, and make meaningful change.


leah said...

Keep fighting the good fight- I can't imagine how frustrated you are by now. I can't believe they haven't done an evaluation yet! How can they know where he stands without any objective testing results?

Deaf and hard of hearing kids don't "look" different, so the need for extra services is often pushed aside. Even test scores can be misleading. Nolan scores above average according to the PSL-4, but can't answer a question to save his life. If you ask him, "Nolan, who has the ball?" he'll simply repeat "has the ball?" There are some definite verbal processing issues, but ones that aren't obvious with the test the school district uses!

susannah said...

this is a great post. and i swear all of it is so ridiculous. we have our ifsp in two weeks and i am already dreading it-it all feels like an uphill battle. and when you have a child who needs additional support the LAST thing you need is another uphill battle.
so frustrating.

Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

My mantra is "Services based on diagnosis, not on test scores!".


Thank you for keeping us posted and sharing this process. I think we are all going to be able learn so much from eachother as we go through the IEP process with our boys...

Ben's Mom said...

Thank you for sharing this process. You are educating other parents as you go - as you have from the beginning of Drew's journey. I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time. Keep up your good work. Drew is so blessed to have you advocating for him.

camille said...

You can request an independant evaluation through the Ohio School for the Deaf. We're persuing one for my older daughter. They offer them free-of-charge for all Ohio residents with hearing loss. You don't need the school district's approval, either. Just call OSD and request one.
By the way, my youngest will be 3 in Sept and hasn't had her MFE yet either. It is scheduled, though, and will be done at AG Bell.

Anonymous said...

Your district sounds like they're pulling you through the wringer!

I thought that you might find this information interesting...This spreadsheet shows the estimated state aid for each school district for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. The chart shows funding levels before and after federal stimulus dollars are included for special ed.

Anonymous said...

Your parental rights are to request to have an evaluation done by another party if you do not agree with their evaluation. Coming from a Special Educator, a child has to have a mild delay in 3 areas, moderate in 2, or severe in 1 area.... this is how it is in the state I live... in order to qualify for Special Education.

This can be language (receptive/expressive), social/emotional, adaptive (self help), or cognitive. This would help the previous poster when asking her child a question- he socially cannot give an age-appropriate answer. Sometimes we have to get the districts to test the correct areas.

The parental safeguards are in place to help parents get the system to work for their child. Unfortunately in this economy, the squeaky wheel is going to get the grease (that the govt is saying isn't there, but we all know it is).

Now, also, him not qualifying is really a good thing. But I know where you are coming from. His development of speech sounds will not become better as he becomes older, it requires specific skills to focus on those sounds that he may not hear/say.

Anyway, GL!