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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kayla's School Placement

There are 8, or 9, schools in this district. Not every school has programs, or services, to accommodate those with special needs so they have certain schools that contain certain classes. An example is there are a couple schools with classes for those with autism.

Then there are the 'educable mentally disabled' (EMD) classes, 'trainable mentally disabled' (TMD) and a 3rd one that I forget the name (for the most 'severe' disabilities.) Kayla's home school has the TMD class and the one that would be a 'step below' that one. They don't have the EMD class, which is where they suggested would be the best placement for Kayla.

At her placement meeting I stressed that I wanted Kayla to be at her home school in a general ed 1st grade classroom as much as possible, with pullouts for the individualized help she needs.

Basically, what it came down to was the home school didn't think they would be able to accommodate her (even though, by law, they are supposed to provide the services and supports she would need).

They never said she couldn't go to her home school, just that they didn't think it would be the best option for her and she wouldn't get the level of support she could get at School B.

There is a teacher in the resource room but they felt that with the 40+ kids that shuffle in and out of there that Kayla's day would be 'disjointed.' That what the resource room teacher would be teaching would be above Kayla's current level and she wouldn't get the specific instruction she needs.

The students that use the resource room have mild learning disabilities, or medical diagnoses like ADHD, and are just getting that extra help to get caught up.

One option was having Kayla spend part of the day in the gen ed 1st grade class and part of the day in the Kindergarten class. (no thanks.)

We were told School B has the EMD class and there are only 5 students (1st and 2nd grade this year, no K students) with a special ed teacher and an assistant. The students join the regular gen ed class for the usual 'lunch, recess, specials.' School B has 'programs' for those with 'mental disabilities.'

I again stated my vision for her placement and read statistics from reports on why inclusion was a better placement and is more beneficial for all involved.

Then the school psychologist and special ed teacher from School B spoke up saying they have more flexibility on scheduling and with what they have at their school they could make what I wanted happen.

They would assign Kayla to a regular gen ed 1st grade classroom (and they had a specific teacher in mind already); the assistant in the special ed classroom could be Kayla's aide in the gen ed classroom. Kayla would get pulled out for a much smaller amount of time to the EMD class for intensive instruction on reading and writing (they use the Handwriting Without Tears program - yay!)

So we visited School B yesterday. I didn't want to like it. I had a chip on my shoulder and was upset that we had to consider another school. I was upset that she wouldn't automatically be going to her home school. I was upset that her home school didn't seem like they were making a real effort to do what needed to be done for Kayla to be successful in their school. I was upset that we didn't really feel welcomed ... they were nice enough ... it just felt like a general lack of 'how can we make this happen?' but instead a "she has a cognitive delay and needs to go to another school."

But the truth? We actually really did like School B. It's an art-infused school. The mission statement is "...committed to providing meaningful opportunities through arts-infused, technology-based, and differentiated learning experiences that create lifelong learners."

They have 2-D and 3-D art classes, music (vocal and instrumental), dance, drama (among all the other regular core academic classes.) A couple times a month the arts teachers come to the classrooms and they do the arts in the classrooms pertaining to the lessons. I think Kayla would absolutely love something like dance and drama in the classroom.

We met the gen ed 1st grade teacher and she was wonderful (also Teacher of the Year 2 yrs ago!). So open and welcoming and accepting. She had no hesitations of Kayla's placement being in her class with a pull out to the EMD class (instead of the reverse of Kayla's placement being the EMD class and 'joining' the 1st grade class for some things.) She's open to modifying Kayla's work (and told me last year she had a student she had to modify work for - the class had 20 spelling words, this student was only tested on the first 10, although she was exposed to all 20 in the classroom.) Last year she had 4 students from the EMD class join her class and worked closely with their teacher on modifying their work.

So even though a part of me wants to fight to have Kayla in her home school, we've decided to go with School B because of what they are willing to do and what they can offer Kayla to make it successful for her. Tomorrow we meet to go over the finer details of placement on her IEP and get her proposed schedule; I want to make sure the majority of her time is specified to be in the regular gen ed classroom.

I just wish this all didn't have to be so stressful!

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The Munck Family said...

Praying all goes well, and Kayla gets the best. I think IEP and stress are one in the same aren't they?!

Carol N. said...

It sounds like School B is a winner. Can Lucas go there too when he's old enough?

starrlife said...

Sigh.... it is sooooo stressful. SOunds like you did a good job though! You got them to acknowledge your right s and needs and then you got to pick the one that you felt gave the best option for her- Yeah! I surely hope it goes well for her. I HATE those terms/categories!!!! Trainable!! That's horrible. Hugs.

Ellen said...

I hope Kayla has a great year at School B!

Bailey's Leaf said...

Sometimes what we want to be the best choice turns out in the end not to be the best for our child. If school B is more structured to being suited to Kayla's needs, why not want to send her there than to have a school muddle their way through (wrong, I know, but hear me out) and leave her with an education that they don't mean to be lacking, but most likely will. Please understand that I know that legally they should accomodate for the special needs that Kayla needs, but school B seems to be such an exciting choice for her. What a wonderful opportunity for her!

I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that, but you aren't moving for a very, very long time (if ever?), so you are set for at least a good while, right?

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

I am so happy to hear that school B was so wonderful, even though it is not her home school. you are right - why does it have to be so stressful??? as if there are not enough other stresses?!?! the great part is that the teacher at school b is great and teacher of the year - you can't beat that. i hope all goes WONDERFULLY at school b :)

Finding Normal said...

As a mom, I'd be wishing school A would just accommodate. But as a teacher, I'd say school B all the way! They have the experience and the program is already in place. And they seem excited to have Kayla. I think school B will take the "more alike than different" approach, while school A would not. Good luck!

Becca said...

We'll be entering into this wonderful world of placement next year, too. I'm not looking forward to the decisions we'll have to make, but I am absorbing as much as I can from those of you who are already experiencing it. Thanks for this insight. It really does sound like B is the best place. If you're worried about Kayla not being able to spend time with and getting to know the children in your neighborhood who will be going to the home school, are there activities that the neighborhood gets involved in that you can be sure to join so she still gets to know them? Good luck!! Can't wait to hear more.

Cate said...

It sounds like a really good school.

Educable? trainable? What year is this? They need better names for the classes, I think.

chelle said...

Will Lukas be able to join her when he is ready for school? (I think they allow for that here)

I say you go to the best school possible .. granted it is nice to be closer, but programs and education can make such a difference for all children.

Christina said...

Awh it sounds like the new school should work out well, even though it's not what you wanted! I hope she has a great time!

Rachel said...

wow that sounds like it turned out really good! Honestly I am not looking forward to Sam hitting school age! It seems super stressful! Hope y'all are doing well!

AZ Chapman said...

I think school b seems right hope all goes well

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I'm sorry it's so stressful. Schools just don't have the funding they need to provide equal opportunities to all children's varying differences. I'm glad that there IS a school in your district that is so flexible and able to help Kayla in every way she needs.

Hope it's a great year for you all!

mom26kids said...

it sounds like school B is a great program for her. Inclusion really is the best thing for our kids. Mariah will be going to extended day kindergarten and I told them I don't want her pulled out I want to see how she does with supports in the classroom. I am a little worried because this teacher is really unorganized and isn't consistent. I don't know how well she will do. I just hope someone pushes her to do her work so far in preschool they were afraid to push her. You can get into power struggles with her but, if she isn't expected to do things she will take that all the way and do nothing. good luck with everything

Michelle said...

I soooo wish it could all be less stressful too - for me and for you! (((HUGS))) Michelle!

Arizona mom to eight said...

The second school sounds so much better. We pressed our home school to allow Meghan to attend fully included in Kinder, they grudgingly agreed and then proceeded to make our days awful.

By law they had to let Meghan in the school, but they did not have to try very hard. sigh, we pulled her out and are doing on-line charter, I wish there was a great school here for her. Praying for Kayla. most of my friends love their kiddos schools, I think we were theexception in some respects.

Anonymous said...

Kayla will flourish with school B!!! Your sister did not go to her home school for 9 yrs. we had to drive her to the other school.. she made friends..had fun and etc.:)There are alot of children(who are not special needs) who do not attend there "home school". They go to different schools for a host of reasons!! School A seems they would just let Kayla flounder without really any guidance (because of limitations with resources)...School B will be (hopefully) full of positive surprises!! and lots of learning ,reading, writing and math!! :) I think, about 95% of us struggle with academics and the other 5% are lucky they do not have to.... I miss, really miss, Kayla and Lucas and ,of course, you.. the house is to empty!! Love mom/grandma

Short Leg Lucy said...

My best friend of 12+ years, Katelyn, has down syndrome and I found that the more she was included with the class, the better she did. She is now in her 3rd year of college and after many of her professors proclaimed they couldn't help her, she's on the honor roll as an art major.

Cole said...

Thanks for sharing this. Abby is only at a 1.5 yo but we're thinking about this now. Sometimes its hard not to go into this stuff without a chip on our shoulders. I've had community members suggest the "special preschool" for Abby and it drives me bonkers. I haven't even wanted to go visit it b/c of the stigma. Then I started wondering if I was the one applying the stigma. I don't know. But I think it is awesome that you were able to step back and at least visit and hear what they were presenting. What if you lived closer to that school you know- would you be bothered by her attending it? Or if the move to that school wasn't tied into the idea of EMD but was just a better school in the district would it bother you? I just wonder not so much of you personally but of the concept. I know my husband is the middle child of 3 siblings. He didn't go to his homeschool but his siblings did. He didn't go for other reasons- but his parents felt the other school was better for him- and it was a better funded school. Just thinking out loud. It's so different nowaday from when we grew up. I grew up in towns that only had one school so this which school to attend wasn't a choice. It's so strange nowadays. But it does sound like in Kayla's situation it is great that there is a school that is willingly placing her in the reg. ed classroom as opposed to the reverse. Good job momma!

Tina said...

I guess in the end it's more about what works out best for Kayla and school B really seems interested in doing something forworking with her! I think you made the right decision by going with them. I hope everything works out and that Kayla is happy in her new school environment!

Nancy M. said...

It does sound like a really good place! I hope she likes it!

Shelley said...

Michelle - school B sounds great - all opportunities for Kayla. It is so hard isnt' it? Ultimately it is the home school's loss - but Kayla's gain from the sounds of it. Good luck!

Kristen said...

The classes sound very similar to here, but our EMD/TMD classes have been changed to ID-Mild/ID-Mod. I *hated* the TMD term, which is what Ethan was labeled for a while. Trainable? Yeah, I train my dog.