Saturday, April 26, 2008

(The) Power of attorney

So, as I was saying, we spent 6 hours on just the BIP- not even touching the IEP yet. Although I still did most of the talking, my attorney furiously took notes, and interjected when the school and I came to a standstill (which was quite often).

Although I didn't really gain all that much, the attorney's presence was definitely felt. I remember talking to the Special Services Supervisor, and her explaining to me that if we go anywhere other than his home school, it would be considered "school of choice", meaning that I would have to provide transportation. In this meeting, we discussed other schools, and lo and behold...transportation would be provided. Imagine that.

The school I wanted him in is still a hearty NO. Seems they don't want to "overburden" the school. My argument that deciding on a school should be based on whether or not the school could meet Jaysen's educational needs, and not the thought that my child would be a burden...held little weight. My preferred school is the only school in the district that has teachers certified in ASD. Ummm...yeah, that would be pretty important, but apparently they're sticking with the "overburdening" of the school.

The attorney said that since the preferred school-thing wasn't happening, Jaysen should be allowed a parapro who has no less than one year experience with ASD. She countered that it was an impossible request. The district has a union, and the job posting can say "experience preferred", but it can't be required. The people with seniority get first choice at the jobs and that's it. The attorney mentioned that we could bypass that by writing the parapro qualifications into the IEP. She said they can't do that because the State told her that an IEP does not super-cede the union. The attorney had never heard of that, so he'll be checking into it.

One of the hot topics of the meeting, regarding the BIP, was "teacher discretion". I wanted it taken way down. Their argument was that a teacher has the right to run her class, and to determine what is disruptive and what is not. My counter was that we empowered a teacher, without guidelines, this year, and it didn't prove to be in Jaysen's best interest, now did it?

She had no argument after that. Yay for me. So the discretion was reduced, and we found a way to decide at what level and on what occasions Jaysen should be removed from the classroom. I was cool with that.

After ignoring and avoiding me for over 4 months straight, Ms.Gen.ed has graciously awarded me the honor of contacting me once a week by e-mail, to discuss the previous week of school. I explained this was unacceptable. There are only a matter of weeks left in the school year, and I shouldn't be restricted regarding my communications with her if no other parents are. Ms.Gen.ed now has to respond to my e-mails as they arise.

Gee, Ms.Gen.ed, I guess you should have been at the IEP meeting instead of sending the Phys.Ed teacher in your place. That's what happens when you have no backbone to stand up for yourself- people get to make decisions about you and you relinquish your right to any input.

We're meeting again this coming Thursday, to attack the IEP. Ms.Gen.ed will not be gracing us with her presence at that meeting either, because "the classroom parents" feel she is pulled out of class too much for meetings regarding Jaysen. The attorney made sure he had it clear that the parents were in essence dictating who would attend the IEP meeting. Yep. He later explained that there really is no benefit to having Ms.Gen.ed there anyway, since she's obviously not involved in any positive way for Jaysen. Whatever- just get us out of this school.

On another note- Jaysen had his first playdate with an unfamiliar child. I met this mom online (hey... I'm not dating her), and she lives real close and has a son with PDD-NOS as well. We thought we'd get together and see if our kids were a match to play. Her son was very shy. Very sweet, but shy. Jaysen's a jabberjaw. Half the time he's not making any sense to anyone but me, but a jabberjaw nonetheless.

It went pretty well though- we met at Jungle Java, which is a playplace with a full coffee bar (Whoo-hoo!), the kids ran around and the moms drank coffee and talked about the boys. The only thing they really have in common is they both like Max and Ruby and M&M cookies, but it was our first meeting, so there's still a lot to learn about them. The mom and I had a bit more in common- similar experiences with the boys at school, similar situations at was good to meet someone that understood my life a little better. So, if she and her son are up to it, we'll probably hook up again. Jaysen's suggestion was McDonald's. What a surprise.


UnitedStatesAirForceAuxiliaryMember said...

Very cool site!

Marla said...

Sounds like you have a lot of work to do with the schools and thank goodness you have a lawyer. Ugh. What a mess.

I am glad the play date went well.

FableForge said...

Wow. At first, I thought we are (or I am, in particular) the only one having this gigantic headache with the school. It seems like all the other blogs I have read - they have sweet stories to tell about how good the school is to their kid/s, the teachers are great, etc...Our story is similar to yours. As aforementioned in my first comment to your other post, we are in the third school now. The only and big, big difference - you can afford a lawyer. This is AWESOME!

mommy~dearest said...

Haha... FableForge, I totally lucked out on finding this attorney. He was recommended to me by another special needs mom. He has a son with Autism himself, and cut me a HUGE deal. His claim is that he doesn't do this for the money, but really tries to get our kids the right supports, as well as a chance to educate the schools on the laws they need to be following.

Trust me- there was no way I could have afforded it if it were any other circumstance.

Anyone in Michigan, anywhere in Michigan- if you need a special ed. atty, let me know and I'll get you this guy's info. He is awesome.