Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.

-Me

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Talk With An Advocate (The IEP Journey Intensifies)

If you are a parent who is in an IEP process and you are scared, uncertain, or worried that your child isn’t getting what he/she needs please please please contact an advocate. I have been hesitant to do so, hoping to give the school district the benefit of the doubt, and doing my best to maintain a written trail of correspondence outlining the process as we journey through it. It has not been enough, and when Sandis’s teacher encouraged me to contact PACER, I was scared. I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want to dislike the people who work with my son. I don’t want the people who work with my son to dislike me. Sandis’s teacher took the initiative I am too uninformed to take, and prompted me to make what may have been one of the best decisions in my life.

I called PACER. I talked to an intake volunteer who already had several concerns about possible violations in our IEP process. She referred me to an advocate. I faxed evaluation information and my letter trail to the advocate. I talked to said advocate today. She is AMAZING!

A couple of statements she made stand out the most from our conversation.
- We will not focus on desired services, we will focus on problems shown by the evaluations that are not adequately addressed within the IEP.
- We will let the school district find their own solution. The magnitude (presumably) of needs shown in the evaluations and not met by the IEP should point them in the direction we are aiming for (shared aide).

She has also advised me to:
1. Send a letter to Sandis’s special education case worker letting her know that I expect to receive his completed IEP within a reasonable time frame, or ten school days. She advised this as I have not yet received the IEP and our meeting was on February 22.
2. Do NOT sign the IEP. Check the conciliation box and we will proceed from there, with my advocate at my side.
3. Review my copy of the evaluations and highlight EVERYTHING that I identify as needs.
4. Create a written documention of our IEP timeline, documenting the process from the date that I verbally requested special education evaluations up to the present date.
5. List all ways that Sandis and our family has been harmed due to the length of this IEP process. List alongside this what would recompense for this harm.

I feel so much better about where we are going now with Sandis’s IEP. I do have fear. I worry about what they will think of me when I reveal that I have obtained an advocate. I worry that things will get nasty. I am a fairly amiable person and I hate conflict, but I only have one son, and my son only has one time to do this education thing. Because of the love I have for my son, and my determination to see him succeed, I will face conflict. I will stand up, even if it isn’t comfortable. I will ask for what he deserves and needs. I will do this. I will.

Please join me on my journey. This should be a learning opportunity for all involved!

3 comments:

mcewen said...

Unless you're good a short hand, your advocate may suggest that you tape the proceedings [you have to tell them in advance] = makes sure that everyone minds their 'Ps' and 'Qs'.
BEst wishes

Vivian said...

Ok Blogger is not being my friend, so I will try this again.

Sarah, I am so very proud of you. You need to remember that the school has no reason to be angry about your advocate unless they are not doing what they should. You are doing what is best for your children and that is admirable from all sides. You are awesome. Keep on truckin' Sister! =)

Molly said...

Sarah-
I actually hired an attorney to deal with my neice's school district. As a special ed teacher, I was pretty sure I could convince them of her needs, but they totally blew me off and refused to even assess her. After meeting with the team and the attorney...of course they were all on board.
Do what you need to do to make the right things happen.