Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Commentary: Flaky Excuses and Outrageous Statements Made During IEP Meetings

The following is a list of things parents/advocates have been told at IEP meetings (some of which were "caught on tape"). We're not sure where this list came from (we found it posted on a Yahoo list serve, but with no link to the original source), but want to thank whomever put this all together:

1. In my IEP meeting, the learning consultant actually told me that my son couldn't attend a specific out of district placement because the school bus driver didn't like to drive on the particular highway on which it was located....Time and time again OSEP has issued policy guidance and hearing officers have ruled that "placement decisions must be made on an individual basis... placement decisions may not be based on category of disability, the configuration of the delivery system, the availability of educational or related services, availability of space, or administrative convenience." Bus Drivers' Preferences, while not specifically mentioned, just doesn't seem to fit into the criteria for placement decisions. I'm beginning to believe, judging from the many outrageous statements I receive, that the IDEA they follow isn't the same one as what I have access to.

2. A parent brought me the IEP the school district was proposing for her child. The proposed IEP had ONE goal. Child will learn how to keyboard. This is because of messy handwriting. The parents want pragmatic language skills, test taking skills and writing skills taught. The mom wrote down the response, she was so flabbergasted. It was, "we don't have to teach test taking skills. The new law says we only have to accommodate them." The parents had the presence of mind to ask for that "law" in writing and to table the meeting until they got the progress reports on the current IEP.

3. At our IEP meeting this week, the LEA arrived halfway through the meeting, left twice to take phone calls, and took a call on his walkie talkie asking whether a student could bring their pet poodle to school!

4. While working to ensure that the audio portion of videos shown in her deaf son's classroom were provided in a format her child could have access to, the teacher involved used the excuse, "I have 30 kids in a classroom, it is hard to make adaptations." Give me a break! I doubt OSEP, OCR, any hearing officer, or any court in the country would accept that as an excuse. Nowhere in the IDEA or ADA do I see class size as an excuse for not providing needed services. For further discussion on the requirements for effective communication, please see chapter 7 of : Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Self-Evaluation Guide for Public Elementary and Secondary Schools Office for Civil Rights Department of Education United States of America

5. When asking our local school how they would handle our son's education...he is deaf, and was transferring out of a deaf school into a public school, they told me...We don't know of any interpreters so he will have to "wing it" in his classes. And we are still fighting them today. How about we put this person in a classroom being taught in a language he didn't understand and then tell them to just "wing it"?It never ceases to amaze me that just because someone knows one language, they think everybody else does.

6. Parents of child in my child's special ed room requested I attend their son's IEP meeting yesterday--which I did. The special ed classroom has a button making business and as of late have been making buttons that say "Proud to be an American" and selling them and supposedly proceeds are to go to aid NY victims. They also make all sports buttons, etc. Father during the meeting brought up concern about special ed students spending too much time making buttons (this is not an all school project) and that it was taking time away from son's learning. Various local organizations have donated money to defray cost. Special ed teachers reply was that their button business is used to gain extra money for field trips, computer printers, or needs in classroom. Am I crazy or is this a no, no? I am curious how SD can justify button business when it clearly has gone beyond educational/vocational training and becoming
an all day business to keep up with orders. Further, am I crazy or isn't that what state and federal funds are for--to provide the funding for special education to meet the children's needs. Since when are the kids supposed to fund educational needs? Sort of takes the F out of FAPE. It appears to take out the APE too. What's left???? Teacher doesn't have to spend any time planning either.

7. My son is nine years old and deaf and in the 4th grade. He is still doing math problems like 4 -1 = 3 and reading things like "See, the balloon is blue." Their excuse is that well he will always be behind the normal children and that he'll never read as well as the normal child (Do they think he's an alien from space?). I'm thinking..."He is deaf, but he still had a brain the last time I checked!" At home
I am trying desperately to get him worked up to his grade level. And I always tell him that he can do anything. He replies, "I know." Why must educators just take it upon themselves to say a child will never be able to do a certain thing? Why do they think they have the right? -A frustrated mother

8. Once at a 504 meeting that was being implemented before my son got his IEP. The school psychologist and I were going over the accommodations/modifications my son would need for his APD. When I asked for the school to reduce the amount of extraneous noise, provide copied of lecture notes and many more. I was told by the school psych now lets not go overboard here many of these things could apply to his disability. I was like DUH then why not provide them!

9. During the course of one IEP meeting, to describe a dyslexic child and explain why the school did not need to provide services: "Why are you so worried? She's not exactly college material." "She's smart, she just needs to work harder." "Intelligence testing is really meaningless." "You really believe THAT kind of child ever can catch up?" "If she would just read the directions, she'd do just fine"..."She'll never be a good reader." "I never write in cursive." No wonder my head is spinning after each meeting....

10. They are particularly lacking in training here! They pointed out to me that I had the audacity to request an IEP BEFORE the placement decision was made. What an awful Mother I must be!! From OSEP's Guidance Letter re: Deaf Students Education Services: "The decision as to what placement will provide FAPE for an individual deaf child — which includes a determination as to the LRE in which appropriate services can be made available to the child — must be made only after a full and complete IEP has been developed that addresses the full range of the child's needs." The SLP at my sons' last school gave my son the TACL (Test of Auditory Comprehension) while he was......wait for it......UNAIDED! My PROFOUNDLY deaf son, and then dutifully listed the fact that he had failed, in her report. When I asked that IEP services be implemented, the TOD gleefully pointed out that the word "MAY" was in the IEP (and indeed to my absolute DISGUST, it WAS) and that the district didn't need to provide those services after all. (Currently waiting for new IEP mtg. date to be announced). When OT and PT goals were being written, OT proudly pointed out to admin. team members that all goals are specifically geared towards classroom only and don't take into account any life skills. School provided keyboard to said child because of major fine motor delays but unfortunately, there was NO computer to hook said keyboard to FOR FOUR MONTHS; now that they have the computer, the TOD decided, by herself, that it is not helping, therefore it is not used!

11. About two weeks ago, I am at my son's school picking him up. This school is where the District INSISTED he go because he needs SO many services that it would be impossible for them to place him at his home school. (YEAH RIGHT!) Anyway, there I am 10 miles from home, enjoying the clean CO sunshine, (it WAS a beautiful day) when the Principal walks up to me and says "Oh, by the way, according to your sons' IEP, he doesn't need the same level of services anymore and will be attending his home school next year. SO, if you want your son to attend this school next year, you will have to fill out an Open Enrollment form, and of course, you know, this doesn't guarantee placement here for him." Now, shoot me if I'm wrong, BUT, doesn't the IEP Team have to meet (of which I could swear I am an integral part) and THEN the TEAM decides placement based ! ON THE IEP, AND for the District to CHANGE placement, it must be done through the IEP PROCESS?!?!? But, hell, what would I know, I'm only his mother!

12. 11. I advocated at an IEP meeting today where the SLP actually said it was against district policy to tell parents the progress the students were making on the IEP goals. Actually this may be a candidate for most stupid thing ever said at an IEP meeting. Anyway, I did ask for this policy in writing and mentioned that it seemed to
conflict with federal law. She said she often wanted to write more on the progress reports but was constrained by doing so by district policy. §300.347 of the Implementing Regulations for the IDEA state: (a) General. The IEP for each child with a disability must include— 7) A statement of - (i) How the child's progress toward the annual goals described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section will be measured; and
(ii) How the child's parents will be regularly informed (through such means as periodic report cards), at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children's progress, of - (A) Their child's progress toward the annual goals; and (B) The extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the year.

13. I called the State Dept. of Sped to enquire to whom should I address a Fed. Complaint. Said Dept. of Sped gave my name and phone no. to a mediator and I suddenly found myself in the middle of mediation phone calls. HUH? Said mediator, when I was trying to explain various reasons why I did not want mediation (she didn't want to take no for an answer) told me that I didn't really need a lawyer present (school district was bringing one) as it was obvious that I was capable of a higher level of thinking and that made a lawyer, for me, redundant! (But, obviously, the School District still needed THEIRS!) That the parent's level of thinking is at a higher level than that of district personnel is merely a statement of that which is manifestly obvious, and indicative of the norm. However, if the parent did not bring an attorney to the mediation, which was initiated without the parent's knowledge or consent, in an attempt to abrogate her statutory right to file a complaint, she would
not be able to sock the district for the cost of said attorney, after she beats the stuffing out of those mendacious cretins. Such is unfortunately necessary in order to teach them a lesson, since the only language they understand is the language of Green.

14. Here is an exchange that occurred at an IEP review one of my son's teachers had requested: Teacher: I'm concerned about your son. After we drew up the last IEP, he seemed to be doing well in class. For the last 4-5 weeks though, I haven't been able to get him to pay attention in class. I have to go up to him and tap him on the shoulder to get him to attend to what I'm saying, but within a few minutes of instruction time, his mind has wandered off again and he has no idea what I'm talking about in class. I think we need to look at whether this IEP is truly appropriate for your son. Me: Hmmmm......Did the timing of when this started happening in class correspond to about the same time when you accidentally flushed the transmitter for his FM system, which hasn't come back from repairs yet? Teacher: you're right! I never thought of that. I guess the thing to do then would be to get that FM system back and start using it again. It was all I could do to keep from shouting out, "Duh!" at the end of this exchange.

15. At an IEP meeting for my 5 year old daughter I inquired about adding a ramp to the playground equipment. Here are some of the many reasons that were given me for NOT doing it. "If she could get her walker up on the equipment the other children
would have a hard time running around her" "If we built a ramp then neighborhood children might ride their bikes up here, get hurt and we would be sued" "Walking up that ramp would just make her too tired to walk back into school" And my favorite.... "I don't know how we would put a ramp on the equipment without making the playground look strange" All documented in the IEP! Eventually we got the ramp and the special ed director called me at home over the summer to tell me exactly how much the school system had to spend so that my daughter could play with other children...dramatic pauses and all.

16. I got several rather startling statements on tape: Asst. Principal: "Yes, I realize we haven't done an evaluation, but I really think it was your OLD school's responsibility to do that." TOD: "We don't have to do an evaluation for specific learning disability because your daughter already has a primary disability. Deafness." SLP: "Now that we all understand what the district's philosophy is, we need to go ahead and write an IEP based on that philosophy." TOD: "You guys don't have the only disabled child in this district. We can only do so much, and that's why we have TC. I mean, I don't understand why you don't think your daughter should sign. Can you explain that to me?" Asst. Principal: "Sir, have you thought about hiring a tutor for your daughter? Isn't your aunt retiring this year? I think she could be a tremendous help to your daughter." Asst. Principal: "You say your daughter is at a 7.6 grade level now. Well, what if she regresses over the summer? Where will that leave us? You two need to work really hard this summer to maintain her skills. LD kids often suffer regression." And finally...........from the TOD......"I wish we could afford to place every child where they really need to be. But we can't." This one is almost too easy!

17. We just a received a note that our child's IEP was up for review and as we had been to the last one there was no real need for us to be there. Yea right...did you roll on the floor laughing?!?!?!?!?

18. The author of Who Pays for Audiograms Used in Schools? reports receiving an e-mail from a teacher with a address, who told her that what she wrote doesn't apply in HER county, because in HER county, parents have the responsibility to provide the audiograms. These people JUST DO NOT GET IT! And what is the scariest of all, is they are teaching OUR KIDS!! Oh, I understand now!! HER county is not part of the United States and therefore not subject to FEDERAL LAW!! That's the only
reasonable explanation. If they are not subject to Federal Law, then they are not
eligible for any federal funds. They should cough up everything they've been getting and refund it to the taxpayers, with interest!

19. The school contracted with a stuttering specialist, but since nothing was working they stopped paying the bills. Can we stop paying our school taxes since nothing they do seems to be working very well?

20. Objective, under the goal of personal independence: "Johnny will independently cross the street safely, 50% of the time." And what about the other 50% of the time?

21. I am going to request our daughter get either auditory/verbal therapy and / or aural rehabilitation. At our meeting last month, the sped dir. said she had never heard of these so she didn't think the district should have to pay for them. Oh, this is RICH! I can see it now, "Well, your honor, the District feels we should not have to pay for this. Since I have never heard of this stuff, it cannot possibly be appropriate. Yes, your honor, 'appropriate' is defined as stuff I know about, and feel my budget can afford.

22. These aren't from Educrats, but I think they deserve a place on this page anyway. The following are two Supreme Court rulings released on the same day. "Employers who did not know their supervisors were sexually harassing employees still can be held legally responsible for such misconduct." "School districts are not liable when teachers sexually harass or abuse students unless some administrator knew about the misconduct." Does this mean that teachers are not employees of the school districts in which they work? Or does it mean that teachers do not supervise students? Or does it mean that the Supremes are again granting school districts "most favored entity status," consistent with its ruling that teachers, unlike other professionals, cannot be sued for malpractice, thus supporting and perpetuating the notion that school districts are not subject to the laws established for the rest of the nation?

23. I was told repeatedly that it was against the regs for our daughter to have any other problems because of her hearing problem. (Unless of course she was blind or motor impaired.) I think these educrats forgot to send God a memo about their regulations.

24. "Let's not put that in the IEP because then we're required to provide it. If we leave it out, then it's optional whether we provide the service or not." Well, they are half right.

25. Testing this year was done with tests normed on hearing-impaired children. Based on test results, our child may no longer qualify for services since he no longer scores 2 deviations below "standard". Since when does qualification for services depend on testing normed on those with the handicap? We are talking apples and oranges. If they want to know his ability to benefit from regular education, then they have to use testing normed on the general population! See our document Educational Evaluation of Deaf Children.

26. Occupational therapy and physical therapy denied (our child cannot use the left hand very well as a result of partial paralysis). Reason: Our child does not need the left hand for educational purposes. Gross motor problems could not be seen by the school PT, since our child did not have any problems on the swing and on the see-saw, in addition our child was able to walk!!!, jump and run. Coordination needed for going down the stairs or dribbling a ball while walking are not considered needed for educational purposes. Doctor's certificates and PT eval disrespected.

27. They told me they don't have to provide an interpreter all the time because my child has "other issues" besides deafness. Is he deaf only part of the time because of his "other issues", or all the time? If he's deaf all the time, that's when he should have an interpreter.

28. When offering justification for wanting to send my son to a "cluster" site instead of allowing him to stay in his home based school, she told me they wanted to put him with other deaf children to "enhance his lip-reading ability!" Didn't you know - speech reading is contagious!!

29. "What the parents are asking for is an impermissible maximization of services." Silly us, we thought it would be a novel idea for the interpreter to communicate in our son's language.

30. I had a principal "refuse" to authorize his staff to attend another IEP meeting. I laughed out loud for that one!...not very lawyerly of me I suppose! And he said it on tape!

31. When a SPED Director was trying to convince the parents of a 2nd grader that retention was needed, she commented that "he was so immature that he (child) doesn't have all his teeth yet." The father replied, "is that why reading is so 'tough' for him?"

32. When a parent inquired about whether the IDEA Amendments were in effect, a SPED Director replied, "they haven't been grandfathered in yet". Sometimes I wonder where Educrats get their training.

33. We are at this meeting and the sped director says, "Geez, why are you picking on us, we aren't the only school district which isn't providing ESY. There are 400 other ones that aren't either." Having anticipated this not-so-clever comment, I said, "You know, I thought you might say that. And let me tell you why I am picking on this particular district on ESY. There are really three reasons. First, my client happens to live in this one. Second, you happen to be a well-known sped director and whatever you do will certainly "get around." And third, I've calculated it out and in my lifetime I could never get to all of the other 400 districts even if I work night and day so I've decided just to focus on one and then the others will probably have to follow suit because they won't be able to say that all the other districts routinely deny ESY because this one won't be doing that anymore, will it?" You know he's never used this reason again with me.

34. "Your list of accommodations prevents the teachers eliminating your son's ADHD." Now if they can do that, I'd like to market their talent.

35. "We can't let him have a water bottle, they're not allowed in case they bring vodka in them." Are we talking about the kids or the teachers here?

36. "ALL Middle School kids have social skills problems. They just learn by watching their peers." So THIS is what our kids are learning in school?

37. "During the Adaptive PE evaluation he was worn out after 15-20 minutes. I will be seeing him twice a week for 50 minutes a session." Sounds like this one needs a basic lesson in math. Maybe working up to 50 minutes a session...but to start out with 50 minutes?

38. "We don't have anyone who can do that." Then they better get somebody. This is no excuse!

39. We don't have any place he can go. We have a space problem here." Same applies, it's no excuse. If it's needed for the child to receive FAPE, they have to find the space.

40. Can the parents do that? Insist on staff training for the disorders?" This one should be a "no brainer". We shouldn't have to insist upon it though. It should be the school's responsibility.

41. "He doesn't really have to learn cursive. All he needs to do is learn how to sign his name." Then why do the kids in regular ed have to learn it?

42. When a parent of a sped child asked for him to be placed in a class with his typical peers, the IEP team coordinator stated, "But then we would have to place him in a class that had all Down syndrome kids in it. Those are HIS typical peers." This is certainly a creative interpretation of the IDEA.

43. Although the school district and director of special education had verified the child's disability and entitlement to receive special education services under IDEA, it was the school district's position (prior to hearing anyway) that they would not provide the child with an interpreter until the child "stopped using her disability as a crutch to get attention from her teacher and classmates". At the conclusion of the due process hearing, the school district was ordered to provide the child with an interpreter.

44. At a meeting called to evaluate a child : Parent: You need to get your Dr. on staff/retainer to do some medical testing. School: We don't have a Dr. on contract. Parent: Well, I am requesting an IEE (at which point the parent showed them supporting documents in the CFR and the Fed. Regs.) School: Oh, we don't do that here. The parent was dumbfounded and asked them if they still considered Florida to be part of the Union.

45. My family does not drink milk. Understanding that the school lunch program offered orange juice as an alternative to milk, I sent my daughters for hot lunch that day. They were told they could not have OJ because they did not have a "note". When I called to ask about the "note", the school administrator told me that they couldn't provide OJ to just anyone because then "all the kids would want it" ( will be anarchy!!) and OJ is only available to children who have a note from the family doctor stating they are "SEVERELY lactose intolerant". So...I guess mildly or moderately lactose intolerant is okay???

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