Friday, March 16, 2012

You Don't Know Me Very Well

It was a week ago that we had our second meeting with the school team to discuss K's IEP.  The good news is that this one was far less painful than the previous one.  The teacher had very little to say...well, maybe because it was my turn.

That sounds pretty assertive of me, doesn't it?  Shut up, Mrs. Negative Classroom Teacher.  It's my turn.  The fact is, I'm not particularly assertive.  I am determined.  I am tenacious.  I will work through an issue until I've beaten the proverbial dead horse into a puddle.  I am excellent at being the squeaky wheel (pleasantly persistent, thank you very much).  But I'm not particularly assertive.  There are times, though, when I can be, let's call it "strategic."

In the two weeks between meetings, I had plenty of time to do more research, gather more ideas, formulate more questions, and write a whole new list of things to cover.

*side note*  It is typically recommended to dig into a meeting until it is all hammered out, no matter how long it takes.  I've decided that splitting up the meeting actually works much better for me.  Not only do I get the extra time to absorb all the overwhelming information from the first meeting, but I get plenty of time to prepare for the second.  Granted, it gives the school/district team time to do the same, but I'm okay with that.  I think the whole idea of sitting there for hours is as much a strategy for a parent as it is for the school/district team.  There has to be some strategy to just plain wear a parent out and a long meeting can do just that.  Also, I'm less emotional when I'm not so overwhelmed and it's very helpful to leave emotion out of these meetings whenever possible.

Husband and I talked about what we wanted to accomplish and decided that there was one especially important concern that we wanted documented:  K is now about 2 years behind in reading.  That affects every other subject taught in school.  In the past year, she has not made much progress at all.  The gap is getting wider, not narrower, between her and her peers.  How do you (meaning the school team) plan to close the gap?  This was strategy on our part.

Originally, I just wanted the concern documented.  We were actually at this meeting to discuss the accommodations and services.  Boy, did this concern take the meeting in a totally different direction.  It was fine, but just not what we had planned.  Is any of this process EVER what we plan?  It was our intention, though, to plant the seed that we know what is expected - K to be at grade level - and to put everyone on notice that we won't stop until that day...and probably not even then.  We want a plan; we expect a plan; K deserves a plan.

We have been working with a school team since K was 3 years old.  The team we have now is not the team we had then.  This team has been with us for 2 years now, which is long enough to know me pretty well, I think.  Certain members of the team have been with us longer, so they should know me very well.  It came as a surprise to me when our school district program specialist (aka Budget Barrier) said,

"Ultimately, it is the school district that makes the final decision on placement for FAPE, but that doesn't mean that your input isn't important.  You are a very important part of the team."


Dude, you don't know me very well.  Hello?  Tenacious. Determined. Smart. Educated. Well-informed. Ph.D. in K.  Do you really think, for even one millisecond, that I will allow anyone other than my husband and I to make the final decisions for K?  Seriously?  Have I ever just blindly accepted anything on the table without at least questioning it, let alone reserving (or using) my veto power?  Clearly, I'm not following the school district rules.

I may not like the barriers that are put in front of me, but I would not be doing my job - I wouldn't be me - if I just looked at those barriers and accepted them.  No, I will look for every way around, over, under, through that barrier.  I may not always get my way, but it won't be because I didn't try.  Mr. School District, I will promise you this:  you are an important part of the team and I know you have a job to do; your input and recommendations are valuable and we will keep an open mind; but in the end,  decisions will either be mutually agreed upon or they will be mine (and my husband's) alone.  Maybe those aren't the "legal" rules, but that's how I roll and it's never been any different.

I think that perhaps I am just as ridiculous as they are sometimes.  I continue to be surprised, even when I really do know better and they continue not to know me very well, or perhaps they just forget what I am like.  Whatever the case, I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of his misguided assumption about me.  Every time I think about it, I giggle.  Thanks for the laugh, Mr. School District.  I have renewed energy.  Statements like that just fuel me.  I'm far from beaten down.  Bring it!

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