Yes, my friends, that title is in quotation marks because it’s what the school system’s director of special education said to me yesterday after my daughter’s fifth IEP meeting this year. They initially cut her services to almost nothing and we fought to get a few more services put back in place. But when I finally said, “What do I have to do to get her parapro reinstated like she’s had all this time?” the answer was that I had to go through a due process attorney. I restated it, asking if she meant that I had to get a lawyer and sue the school system, and she said yes.
This is a school official saying to my face, “We’re not going to do anything that the court doesn’t MAKE us do.” Wow.
I hate that only two years ago I published my first book about my daughter and at the time I bragged about how incredible and accommodating her school was. It just goes to show, everything associated with special education is dependent on the political climate, the personnel changes that take place in a school and at the school board, and the whims of the people in charge.
What was really interesting is we have been asking throughout this process, “WHO made this determination?” and the answer has always been, “the IEP team.” Yesterday, I responded to that statement by saying, “I’m on the IEP team, and I DIDN’T decide this.” The director replied that I wasn’t the only person on the IEP team, and that the rest of the team members had decided my daughter no longer needed services.
And so, we take their advice and we sue. We meet with an autism-specific attorney on Monday, after meeting with our daughter’s psychiatrist to see what recommendations he has. It might come to nothing, in which case we’re prepared to take our daughter out of school. But I almost feel like we have an obligation to take this further. I am a college educated teacher myself, with a Master’s degree in education. If I can be bullied and run over and lied to about what services are available, what do you think they’re doing to the young couple who didn’t finish high school and lives in a trailer park, but who love and care deeply for their handicapped child? At the risk of sounding like I’m just on a noble crusade, I’ve got the time and the credit score necessary to hire an attorney, so someone has to fight these people and make them do their jobs. I guess that someone is my family.