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Thursday, June 17, 2010

1st Grade Placement Update

I guess I should start off by saying nothing was actually agreed upon in the IEP for Kayla's placement in 1st grade. I didn't sign off on it so I know there will have to be another meeting in SC to actually determine what type of placement Kayla will be in when school starts there.

For what it's worth this is what happened though.

Her teachers and therapists at her school sent their reports on to the school board team who met to review her file and determine what would be the best placement for Kayla and then give me their determination.

This is what I was given:
Supplementary Aids & Services:
- Picture schedule
- Adult supervision during all unstructured situations
- A goal to address independent skills (not sure why this is listed as a supplementary aid/service).
- Small student to teacher ratio
- Intensive case management

A self-contained small group setting with intensive academic interventions on grade level curriculum as well as instruction in adaptive and independent living skills. Daily opportunities for inclusion for socialization and academics, as appropriate. The team should review this portion often and continue to provide additional opportunities, as appropriate.

It was explained that she would be in this self-contained room for the areas she is weaker in and pushed out to the inclusion classroom for areas she is stronger in. When I narrowed down exactly what that meant I was told it was recommended she receive 1 hr for math, 1 hr for reading and 30 min for writing. When I said I wanted to see a break down of her day to show the percentage of time spent in the self-contained room vs inclusion room I was told basically you can see it would be at least 2.5 hrs based on the instruction for math, reading and writing.

So she would be in the regular room for social studies, science, with all the specials, lunch, recess.

Reading it that way sounds like the majority of the time she would be in the regular classroom - so why is the placement recommendation written that she should be in the self-contained classroom - that makes it sound like that would be her main placement and classroom.

If we were staying here in MD I kept asking why she wouldn't be in the regular classroom and pulled out for the math/reading/writing help and was told because that school (her home school) doesn't have a specific room for that.

I brought up the fact that according to IDEA's definition of Least Restrictive Environment, "to the maximum extent appropriate, school districts must educate students with disabilities in the regular classroom with appropriate aids and supports, referred to as "supplementary aids and services," along with their nondisabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, unless a student's individualized education program (IEP) requires some other arrangement. Some supplementary aids and services that educators have used successfully include modifications to the regular class curriculum, assistance of an itinerant teacher with special education training, special education training for the regular teacher, use of computer-assisted devices, provision of notetakers, and use of a resource room.

By telling me that Kayla wouldn't be able to attend this school for 1st grade (if we were still living here) doesn't show me that they tried to the maximum extent appropriate to provide any of the supplemental aids or services to make it work for her in this school. There didn't seem to be any brainstorming on any ideas of how to make this work for Kayla; of what she could use to succeed in a regular first grade classroom in this school. The only thing I was continuously told is that they didn't have a 'classroom for her to be pulled out to for the intensive academic instruction in math, reading, and writing.'

I asked about having a 1-on-1 aide to help her stay focused and on task and was basically told she didn't really need a 1-on-1, but yet she needs adult supervision during all unstructured situations. It was mentioned that having a 1-on-1 aide actually fosters more DEpendency rather than making her as independent as she can be. On one hand I do see the risk of that happening, but I think at this age Kayla probably would benefit from an aide. Maybe even part-time.

Then there was this observation chart I was shown; not sure if this was throughout the school year, over the course of one week, or what exactly, but it listed behaviors in different settings. This was the first time I heard about most of these behaviors occurring. And after reading this list it makes me think even more that she would benefit from having an aide in the regular classroom.

Clarification: I was told 3 or 4 times about touching the food, but I thought that was at the beginning of the year and wasn't happening any more. I also knew about having to get Kayla before the whistle blew at the end of recess. The other behaviors I didn't know about, although it doesn't surprise me about Kayla I just didn't think it was happening in school. And they did make it seem like it wasn't a big issue, but they wanted her team in SC to be aware of things she does.

Behaviors throughout the school day: touches chairs, crawls under tables, touches other students, gets up and walks around the room, sits in chairs at the tables next to the carpet, has difficulty staying in her chair and staying focused on questions and activities, touches other students lunch/lunch boxes, (recess) rarely gets in line when told; teacher has to get her before blowing the whistle or she'll run to another part of the playground, plays in bathroom with paper towels, soap, water, looks under stalls, tries to leave gym on occasion, exits computer programs frequently instead of completing tasks.

I don't know why those issues were never addressed although they assured me this wasn't on a consistent, daily basis, but did happen fairly often.

We didn't really get anywhere so we just ended the meeting without me signing the IEP; just saying I would take what was written to SC with me.

So now I have to try and talk with someone in the SC school district about her placement...which I would like to state that she's in a regular 1st grade classroom with an aide with pull outs for ST/OT and math, reading, and writing. I was told that all the schools there do have a resource room, but only 2 schools have a 'special needs' classroom. Neither of those schools would be Kayla's home school based on where we just bought our house. I don't want her bussed even farther out to another school without at least trying an arrangement at her home school first - especially if they have a resource room I would think that should be able to work for Kayla.

So that's the latest. Fun times I tell ya.

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Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

oh this sounds so stressful! i am sorry you are going through all of this right now and with the added complication of moving to a new state/school district/school!!! I am sorry to hear that the behaviors they listed were not ever brought up to you or addressed throughout the school year. how in the world can you attempt to work on those things if you are not made aware of them? i hope all of the information they have given you will be HELPFUL when you meet with the people in SC!!! Best of luck!!!!!!! thinking of you :)

Tina said...

So frustrating :( ((((HUGS))))

Tracy said...

All that sounds so familiar. Our schools here just seem to talk circles around me and it gets so frustrating. Hang in there. Hey, it looks like you and I will be in Orlando together! I am looking forward to meeting you.

Becca said...

Omg, this is definitely stressful!! I am envisioning our entry into a very similar battlefield in the not-too-distant future.

Why on earth didn't they tell you about those behaviors as they were happening? Makes me wonder what Sammi's teachers aren't telling us now.

RK said...

I'm wondering why you didn't hear about these behaviors as well. I'd be making sure to mention to the SC team that if these kinds of things happen, you want to know at the time...communication however you prefer it, but something. I would be very upset to be approached with a list like that without prior knowledge.

This definitely doesn't sound ideal, and I'm sorry that's the case. I'm really hoping the SC gang is really on the ball and realizes how lucky they are to get to have Kayla in their district!

Christina said...

UGH!!! IEP meetings are SO stressful! Sounds like you went in prepared and stood up for her, which is awesome. I hope SC is more accommodating!

Anonymous said...

I'd be pissed off if I were you.

You're absolutely right. At Kayla's age, a one-on-one aide would benefit the whole classroom, not just Kayla. With the right aide, Kayla could be redirected or be re-focused, and still be independent and included in ALL tasks.

Someone is dropping the ball, IMO.

I'm not sure how it works in the US but I'd advocate for one-on-one.

As far as the behaviors not being addressed to you, I'd be very upset. Does Kayla have a daily communication book? We asked for EVERYTHING to be addressed so that we can support the teacher and EA as best as possible at home. It's been a painfully slow process for us, but Gabe has made some progress from many of the same behaviors that Kayla is having.

I send tight hugs your way, Michelle & Joe. It will get better.

Regina said...

I don't look forward to this! We just had Jayden's first IEP meeting a month ago for preschool. I'm hoping we did the best for him. After leaving and thinking about it a few days, I started second guessing all the things that were put into his IEP. I guess it was a huge learning thing for me. We'll see what happens when school starts in August! Good luck at the new school! Hope it all works out!

Anonymous said...

Having heard their list of "behaviors" Kayla sounds like what she is. a TYPICAL kinder. I don't know if you remember me well, I was in her room with Ms. H. in New Mexico. Well I'm in a different dept. now and I do lunch duty for 2nd and 3rd graders and guess what I spend most of my time telling them! Don't touch other peoples food. :)

Remembering Kayla, I don't see why she can't be in a gen ed 1st grade. Yes she has her moments, but show me a 1st grader that doesn't.

Stand firm, I'm glad Kayla has you for a mom, you are her best advocate. If all else fails, bring her back to NM, we miss all of you!!!!!!!

Bailey's Leaf said...

At least things were kept open for SC. Doesn't really sound like a great school. So glad that you aren't continuing there.

Maybe I'm wrong, but wow.

Cate said...

there are so many things I want to ask. I'm sorry it didn't go well, or at least better than it did.

so the school board team, they don't actually know her? they're just using written reports from the people who actually interact with Kayla? that sucks. (The only IEP meeting I've been to has been with Abby's teacher and all her therapists right there in the room.)

Are you in touch with people in SC who can give you some tips/background before you get there?

ugh. It all sounds unpleasant, but you did an awesome job.

Lisa said...

just want you to know that you are being a great advocate for Kayla...

Beth said...

I'm an occasional reader of your blog. Sorry you're having so much trouble with the IEP. It's so complicated!
I wanted to let you know that one of the world's best speech therapists is going to be moving to the Charleston area next year! Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson of TalkTools fame is planning on moving some time in 2011! Be on the lookout--you couldn't get a better therapist for speech clarity.
Our family loves the Charleston area--wish we could vacation there every year!

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

*sigh* I'm so sorry you're going through this. It so royally sucks.

Katie said...

I am in NC, and it seems like you may have a similar situation to ours in your new area. At the risk of offending anyone in these areas, I have to say that I have been really disappointed with the services that have been offered to Ben. I have worked in special needs classrooms in Missouri before I even had Ben, so knew what things should be looking like. BUT...saying that, I know that his teachers care about him and he could have been kicked out of his elementary class many times over for his behaviors, but they just deal. It's very very very hard trying to work (fight) with a school district that has done things a certain way for years and years. Ben STILL has no aide...and he is non verbal, and has some major behaviors. I hope you get what you are looking for...don't give up!