Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm Warning You Now....

I just need a vent...a school related vent (surprise, surprise).

**Let me preface by saying that I don't expect teachers to do all the teaching...we work diligently at home on a daily basis.  Everything I'm posting here, I've already voiced to the school...and I just get blank stares.  We live in a "one school" county, meaning the school she is in, is the ONLY public school in the county.  Period.  We simply can't afford private schools or even tutoring until I find a full time job. 

My youngest is dyslexic...well the school can't deem her that because it's considered a medical diagnosis, so her IEP has decoding deficit listed as the learning disability...doesn't matter how they word it to me...it's the same thing.  Anyway,  my child is 10 years old and can't read or write more than her name...and I'm dead serious!!  She's been receiving "special ed" classes for 4 years now...and in my opinion, there should be a little more progression.

This year = new school for her.  I walked in the first day and requested an IEP meeting with all of her teachers, and although they didn't understand why I wanted all her teachers present (don't you have to read in every subject?) they obliged.  I thought we were off on the right foot, and I was being a proactive, concerned parent advocating for her child....instead I feel like I got the old brush off!

It seems that her "special ed" this year consists of the special ed teacher in her regular reading class with the reading teacher assisting WHOEVER needs assistance..."integrated learning."  Now, I'm no educator, but you can't just pick up a 5th grade reading book and expect her to catch on...it doesn't work that way!

Fast forward to last week, when for the 100th time, I receive a letter to sign her up for "optional" after school tutoring.  I declined, as in the past these are usually more of a group-everyone-into-the-cafeteria-and-we'll-do-homework-together sessions, and that doesn't work for her.  Well the principal didn't like my "no thank you" comment I wrote on said 100th letter and quickly picked up the phone to call me.

Gracie failed her math SOL (Standard of Learning) last year, so this year not only does she have her regular 5th grade math class, she also has an additional remedial math class as well.  I understand the remedial math class is mandatory because she failed, I've gotten over it. 

Back to phone call from the principal...  She tells me that the tutoring is also mandatory, even though the sign up sheet clearly states "optional."  I bucked her on that, and requested state/county documents stating the exact policy...still haven't received them!  Ms. Principal then goes into chipper motivational speech mode and says "we just want her to pass this year's SOL!"  Fire lit through me!!  My response was "well that's where we have our problem...see, I just want her to learn to read & write!"

So here it is the first week of October, and the kids have been back in school almost two months, and still no confirmation on getting her in the remedial reading group!!  If their actions don't give someone a clear view of their priorities, I don't know what would!  They could care less about teaching her to read/write...as long as the school is accredited....over my dead body!

I won't even go into how today, the so called special ed teacher called me...after getting Gracie out of class, asking her for my phone number and then using Gracie's cell phone (because she didn't want to take the time to go look it up) to call me about a meeting she said she scheduled but "forgot" to notify me about??

Guess where I'll be bright and early tomorrow morning? :)

Now, because I didn't want this to be a complete b**chfest, here are just a few examples of how dyslexics "see" words/numbers on a page:

Click Here For Interactive Examples

And also two other examples:

Now...how is she EVER going to pass their precious SOL tests without learning to read?  They can put her in every remedial math class but if she can't read the printed material, she can never pass!  Why am I the only one who gets that?

AARRRGGHHH!!  If you've gotten this far...God bless you!!


  1. hey gorgeous, stand your ground sweetie...you are the only one fighting for what's important for your girl...even if you have to go to the media to get your point across...they should have put something in practice by now surely!



    hello gorgeous xxx

  2. I really can relate to this post, my nephew (that has lived with me for the last 6 years) has dyslexia, he was in a mainstream primary school and it was really hard at the best of times and that was with the school trying to be supportive! I really hope the school realise there responsibility to Gracie and that she gets the support she needs. Your doing a great job x

  3. Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry you are having such a difficult time with the school system. I hold welcome sessions for folks who are new to homeschooling in our area, and that is one of the things that is so common in the parents' decision to home school~~the lack of support they received in the past from the school system for their particular situation. Sending big hugs!

  4. First, this comes from loads of personal experience (4 children, all with special education needs - 3 of them with severe language-based learning disabilities, and a host of other issues) - go here if you haven't yet: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/index.shtml . There are timelines that must be followed, i.e.-notification. They cannot notify you the day before a meeting, write a formal letter of complaint.

    States must meet the federal guidelines for special education. They can maximize (Massachusetts does, Maine does not), but they have to meet the regs.

    If you haven't yet, get a copy of your state's special education regulations and read them.

    Find an advocate. Most states have organizations that have advocates, most at no charge. I used to be a trained parent advocate in Maine. http://advocatesforspecialeducation.com/find_virginia.html

    She probably needs extended year services as well (services, usually for 6 weeks during the summer). The school department has to provide them. The Virginia DoE special education website has a host of information on it.

    Be the squeaky wheel, you will get the grease - trust me. Just make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's. Document everything, every request for a meeting, put in writing. Don't accept anything verbally.

    You may need to consider independent evaluations. We paid for an initial set for our oldest (believe me, we didn't have the money but it was some of the best money we've ever spent). They came to a very large P.E.T. (pupil evaluative team meeting), laid out the documentation, compared it to the school department's documentation and told the school department, in no uncertain terms, what further the department was going to pay for, what they were going to provide and when. We then put a special ed attorney on retainer, again money well spent. All of a sudden, T.J. got everything he needed. He was in third grade at the time.

    Don't give up, even when it feels overwhelming. You are your child's best and greatest advocate. It's worth every bit of blood sweat and tears - you only get one chance to do it right.

  5. It sounds as if you are a wonderful parent - don't give up! Our system here in the UK is different from yours, but many of the problems are still the same. As an ex-teacher, I completely agree with Lori - know your child's rights and be the squeaky wheel - and don't give up!

  6. Thanks ladies...I've ordered the remedial reading program they will be using in her school (they said they had to order the books...whatever) and I have another IEP meeting to be scheduled sometime this week, if I don't get any results there, my next step is the county special education director...I just want her to be able to read!!