Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I am upset with IDEA

We have been through the ringer with our local school district and our oldest son.  He was diagnosed with Asperger's on the last day of his 2nd grade.  I requested an IEP assessment from the school district.  No answer.  No assessment.

Fast forward to 6th grade.  Three suspensions, a myriad of phone calls, and a certified letter to the Superintendent later and they FINALLY decide to do the assessment.  Surprise, surprise, Rodney qualifies because he has an autism diagnosis.  We had a big meeting to write his IEP.  Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a plan as he was starting at the junior high the following September.  When I met with the junior high principal, resource room teacher, and special services director, the plan looked promising.  They had a full-time aide assigned to help Rodney navigate the halls, his lockers, and a whole passel of teachers.  It sounded great on September 1st.  However, when the aide decided that Rodney was capable and didn't really "need" her help on the first day of school, all of our hopes went down the toilet.  She was required to work with Rodney all year, but that was never really helpful.  She was untrained and unprepared and the majority of Rodney's meltdowns during the year are directly linked to that aide.  There is so much more.  I don't want to have to "relive" any of that crap.  I desperately want to let it go and look forward to a better year.

I've spent the past 8 years hoping for that better year, but I can honestly say I've never seen it.  Any strides Rodney has made in just the last 14 months is due to the developmental therapy he receives outside of school.  He receives no services in school.  We have jumped through the hoops to get him developmental therapy and IBI in addition to occupational therapy(OT) and physical therapy(PT).  OT and PT didn't work out.  Rodney DOES NOT do well with challenges and both were too much for him.  So, this summer, we paid for a trainer to put together a workout program for him that the therapists and I can do with him.  During the school year, I am hoping to be able to take Rodney to our local gym and run him through the weights at least once a week.  That's great, but what about school?  I was informed by our therapy provider that because Rodney qualifies for IBI outside of school that he should qualify in school and that if the school did the assessment, our provider was ready to contract with the district to perform those services.  Yeah.  That was a nice thought.

The resource room teacher and aide filled out the assessment and sent it to me.  ME!  It wasn't scored yet, so I looked to try and find where I needed to answer questions.  No.  There was nothing for me to add.  They just thought that since I brought it up, that I knew where to send the assessment. 

Sigh.  I thought they were the professionals.  I thought they were familiar with the IDEA and all that comes with it.  I thought they had experience working with special needs kids.  I was so wrong that it is not even funny.

So, this summer after much thought, we decided to talk to a lawyer about this situation.  We know another family fighting a similar battle in the same district and I set up a phone appointment with one of the lawyers handling that case.  What came out of that consultation is that we will have to shell out at least $1500 in a retainer so she can review our evidence and let us know IF we have a case, Idaho has a two year statute of limitations on these kinds of lawsuits, AND the only remedies allowed under the IDEA are educational and attorney's fees.  So, in a nutshell, I have to shell out money to make the school district obey a law that is already on the books and is very, very clear.  Attorney's fees come some time later.  What part of that is going to convince the school district to stop this nonsense and get their act together?  Let me know in the comments.  I don't see it.