Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Things

1. Do you read Sue at My Party of 6? Because if you don't, you should. I've been reading her for many months now and find her to be thoughtful, clever, and hilarious. Which is an awesome combination. In a stunning coinkydink of synergy, it turns out that she is writing about me today. Me! ME! MEEEEEEEEEE!

She wrote more nice things in a row about me today than anyone has ever said about me. I loved her before. I super love her now.

Go check out her blog. And say nice things about me in her comments. And add her to your reader. She's great.

(Incidentally, if you're trying to use the Google voice search on your iPhone to find "my party of six blog," it is extremely likely that you will end up with results for "my party of sex blog.")

2. You may know that Jack is supposed to have a paraprofessional somewhere in his vicinity all day every day, while he is at school. Today I was volunteering in the classroom and his aide was absent. And there was no one else there at all. It was me and the teacher. And this isn't the first time this has happened. Plus, I'm about 1000 percent sure that Jack isn't the only kid in that class legally required to have support.

Clearly, this is a violation of Jack's IEP. Clearly, this is not the only time this has happened. Also clearly, I'm sure it is difficult to always find a substitute for the spot. And clearly, I'm sure budgetary woes dictate that the school probably doesn't want to pay for substitutes if they can get away with not doing so. Clearly, that's kinda not my (or Jack's) problem.

So my question is this: What is the best way for me to bring this up? I don't want to get anyone in trouble, I don't want to ruffle any feathers; I just want Jack to have the support that he needs. So what do you think? A note to the special educator in charge of his team? An email to the principal? An exposé in the New York Times?

I will happily take any and all advice.


  1. How about an e-mail to this case manager (I assume he has one)? Or to the teacher?

    Even if it's brief and informal, I would definitely put something in writing. The ol' paper trail...

    When the (shared) aide in my son's class is absent, there is always a sub. This should absolutely be happening.

  2. Do you have to add something to his IEP..."if Jack's aide is absent, a substitute must fill in?". If you weren't in the class, how would you know the aide was absent ...would Jack tell you? It makes me wonder if they tried to get a sub for his aide and couldn't or if they didn't bother? It might be nice to just ask (the Special Ed supervisor?) if a sub is called in if his aide is absent and see what he/she says and then you could go from there.

  3. definitely an e-mail to his case manager. if that doesn't work, you'll need an advocate. i live next to someone who is a special ed advocate. you can e-mail me.

  4. I could definitely send a letter or email to the case manager because its good to have a paper trail. I'd keep a log of all the times that this happens (that you are aware of) and it might be a good idea to talk to Jack's regular teacher so maybe she can help you find the best way t make sure Jack has all the support he needs. I'm sure it'll be a help for her as well.

  5. Call your attorney. He will know what to do.

  6. Go HAWK on their butts! (Or listen to Jodifur and sensibly call your attorney.)

    I thought about calling my blog My Party of Sex. If I had an iPhone, I would totally change the name.

    And BTW, the love affair is mutual.

  7. "Go check out her blog. And say nice things about me in her comments. And add her to your reader. She's great."

    Done. Done. Done. :)

  8. I work in a high school, which doesn't necessarily mean the processes are the same as they are at your school. In our school, we'd like parents to email the case manager (we have two special education teachers - one of them is assigned to a child and the child would/should know this person) and here is the key, CC the para, the regular classroom teacher, and the principal on the email. That way no one can say that they didn't know. And I guarantee it will scare the bejeebus out of the school and things will get done!!

    After an email, a follow-up phone call with someone would be nice (probably his case manager or classroom teacher). Just as a CYA kind of thing.

  9. I don't know WHO you talk to, but - Jack is supposed to have an aide, he SHOULD have one. If the teacher called in sick, they would have a sub, wouldn't they? This shouldn't be treated any differently. Go get 'em!

  10. Use that journalism background and go for the expose. Just kidding.

    This is absolutely something that you need to bring up to the principal, case manager, and SPED office if it is happening repeatedly because Jack is clearly not getting the support outlined in his IEP when he doesn't have an aide. I'm 98% sure the school system is required to have a sub for all the hours that Jack is supposed to have someone with him. The school system is required to have a designated person act as his aide for all those hours and it becomes their job to find a sub in the event that his regular aide is absent.

    I know you don't want to be a pain but you fought hard to get every single one of those hours that Jack is entitled to and it is important that the school system honors what is written in the IEP. Otherwise you probably have grounds for a lawsuit.

  11. I'm on the fence. I am a document document document kind of girl. But all it got me was everybody pissed at me, everybody sneaking around and covering their tracks, and yeah I could win about a gazillion due process cases...but I can't afford it (financially or mentally). Now I am homeschooling. So, I say document it in an e-mail, but tread carefully. You seem to have a good relationship with the school staff, and sometimes that is more important than what any paper says. A word of caution...if you mention noticing something when volunteering, don't be surprised if all of a sudden you are not "needed" to volunteer anymore (happened to me). The hierarchy is usually case manager-->principal-->sped director. Maybe you can say something about the safety concerns with Jack and that next time there isn't 1:1 support available you would be happy to come up and volunteer to ensure his safety? Or that you'd like to discuss plan B in case this happens again. Or if you really think they were really in a pinch and not trying to screw you or 'get away with something', why rub it in just for principle sake. I know it's the law...but I learned the hard way that sometimes that relationship is much more important. Sorry for being wishy washy... I agree with shooting off an e-mail to the case manager, but try not to make it sound too formal or accusatory? And add this to your parental concerns in your next IEP. If it continues to be a problem, then of course, go up the chain of command and increase the formality and urgency. Welcome to the worse kind of "office politics"... I thought it would end when I quit working, but boy was I wrong.

  12. It is so very different here in Australia. We don't have the protections and processes that you do.

    Today Boo has a sub teacher. His aide has to leave early for a funeral. She told me this morning and was all 'I will be leaving about 2.30, Boo will be with the teacher who has had him before but I won't be there from 2.30' which is code for 'find some reason to be at school around 2.30'

    When you have a kid with special needs you are required by circumstance to not have a life.

  13. I think that you should start out by talking to anyone that you consider to be your ally. It sounded before that his teacher is on 'your side', so I would ask her how often this occurs, and what is usually done about it. From there, I would talk to your lawyer, and get his advice. Since this isn't a mere convenience for him, but a matter of safety for him and everyone else in the room, it's a Big Deal.

  14. Having dealt with school politics, I would agree with Ange. Tread lightly. The last thing you need is to no longer be "needed" and then not be an eyewitness to what goes on in the classroom. Thank goodness Jack has you and Alex!

  15. If the teacher was absent, they would have to get a sub, even in a non-special-ed room. If a para is absent, here in VA, they are also required to get a sub.

    I definitely think the first step is the case manager. You were in the class, and noticed there was no sub for the missing aide that is required by the IEP. If you get an "we couldn't find one" response, then researching how subs are found and the requirements for them is in order- as well as a call to your lawyer, to check on the law for subbing and paras, student: faculty ratios, and how your IEP is written. You want to have your ducks in a row if you have to move up to the special ed department chair and principal- which I would email simultaneously if the case manager tries to turn your concern aside.

    The school's personnel issues are not your problem. Making sure Jack has the aide he NEEDS to function EVERY DAY is your concern, and that NEED must be met, EVERY DAY.

    Or I might have to come up there and "forget" to take my Wellbutrin.

  16. Unacceptable. Clearly I need to come over there and kick some ass. Or, you could talk to the case manager. Whatever you think is best.

  17. Tough call. I'm not qualified to advise, but I'm definitely here to listen.

    (And will. Talk to you again in the morning?)

  18. I'm new to this so take what I say with a grain of salt: I would raise it as a policy issue with the parent/school committee, rather than your case manager. As you said, it's not just Jack that is affected. This way, you have a chance of bringing about change, but there is less risk of antagonizing them because you are not couching it in due process. ps there is buzz in my local district ching...stimulus. Perhaps you can make the case for "dibs" on that $.

  19. The school district is in non compliance. I wouldn't bother with any niceties of "talking" with them. Get an attorney that specializes in special ed.!!! That's what we did! I'm sorry, but you have to play hardball.


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