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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Processing


"The most consistent predictor of a child's success is the active involvement of his parents." ~Christine Yoshinaga-Hana

My kitchen is in shambles, the floor need a good sweeping, laundry folded and put away, lunches packed...but here I am typing because I need to PROCESS.  It has been another whirlwind weekend.  But like always... I am trying desperately to keep up, or just keep my head above water.  I am trying to PROCESS what schooling options for next year are available for my kids, specifically Luke. 

In response to the school districts latest IEP for Luke, Mark and I have decided that instead of "fighting" the system, we believe that there must be a better schooling option for Luke, and Grace for that matter. We feel like we have been fighting the school system for several years, and it really isn't worth the effort.  We.are.done. 

My whole way of thinking is challenged.  I had faith in a system, in a process that I believed would help my baby boy.  The system that would "get him the help and services that he needs", or so I was promised by special education staff in late 2010.  I don't know if I was so exhausted from a new baby and all these new symptoms and NO explanation (2011 was my year of discovering all of Luke's new medical issues) BUT I believed the special education staff at BBC.  AND the part that made me feel secure was the fact I was trained as a special education teacher.  I figured they would want to make the "special education teacher parent" happy and Luke would be "taken care of".  This has not been the case.at.all. 

My sweet little Grace falls into another great place in public education. Do you hear my sarcasm??? She is low enough in subject areas to be behind, but not low ENOUGH for them to do anything about it.  As an educator this is the most dangerous place for a student to be in, and it is the easiest for teachers to overlook and not "address."  I feel as though I have been fighting for anyone to pay attention to her and her needs since she was two. 

Ok...so enough pity party.  Mark always tells me 10% on the problem and 90% on the solution.  SO....here we go.  As I see it...I have 3 options for schooling Luke and Grace.  First private school, second homeschooling with community programs/classes and third transferring to a different school with the school district.  Here is where I am at with the different options:

PRIVATE SCHOOL...I have currently toured 3 different private schools. I just want to say these are all great schools with great programs.  However, when looking at these schools, curriculum and academic programs, I am parent looking for something DIFFERENT than most of their families that attend these schools. And that is ok.  Luke really does not "fit" the typical student mold at all.  My main questions are about accommodations, how the school handles bullying, curriculum used, modified homework assignments, their policy for a student missing some school due to medical and therapeutic appointments.  The first school I looked at is very academic and I feel wouldn't be the best fit for Luke or Grace.  I think it is excellent to push kids and achieve great academic success, but that is just not where my kids are. 

Another school told me that I would NOT be ALLOWED to register Luke at their school until I provide a copy of his IEP and have their support teacher review it.  After the review, they would let me know if Luke was ACCEPTED or REJECTED.  This left a bitter taste in my mouth.  They call themselves a Christian school yet only allow in CERTAIN students.  I do understand it...well sort of.  Some accommodations may be too difficult for teachers to make.  Yet...here is Luke...a child that would benefit from a Christian environment yet he has to be deemed "ACCEPTED" to their standard.  Doesn't seem quite right.  Here I am pleading with them, begging them to let me pay 5,000 plus dollars a year for him to be in their school and "they will get back to me in a couple of weeks."  The tears rolled down my cheeks ALL THE WAY HOME.  I was praying "God, why does this have to be so difficult and painful.  You created Luke, you gave Luke to us.  I am trying my best to raise him according to Proverbs 22.  Train up a child in the way they should go...Lord, the Christian school doesn't even seem like they want OUR Luke."  Sadness followed by anger followed by grief followed by clearing my head because the next day I had ANOTHER school to look at.  There was no issue with this school accepting Grace.  I could register her if I wanted.

The third school was opposite in almost every way to the previous school.  It felt homey and welcoming.  As the tour proceeded I began to open up about Luke and Grace and our life.  While I was talking with the gal giving the tour, I noticed a boy (about Luke's age) working with a one-on-one in a large room.  From my background I could tell he had special needs.  I thought this was VERY interesting.  I LOVED that they were including kids with special needs.  I saw the small class sizes, the kiddos interacting with the teachers and extra parent help. They run background checks on all the parents so they can all help.  I talked with her extensively about Luke.  It was a breath of fresh air to hear that they would accept Luke without needing to see his IEP.  They believe in individualized instruction for all their students and that students grow and learn at their own rate.    YES...YES I thought to myself.  When I got home I began reading the school handbook.  I will have to be doing some emailing tomorrow to clarify a few things.  Not certain how flexible they will be on their rules.

This week I will be looking at the homeschooling community/classes in the area.  More specifically Evergreen Flex Academy and River HomeLink.  This will give me an idea of programs available should we decide to go down that route.  My main concern regarding homeschooling Luke or Grace is the fact that I would need a break somewhere in the week.  I LOVE them so much, but being a good mom means I have to meet my needs too.  Whether it was visiting Grandma or fun classes or sports etc. there would have to be a built in break for me each week.  Just being honest. Also, if we chose to homeschool one child we would send the other to private school because we have learned we HAVE to keep the peace.

The final option would be to transfer the kids to another school within the school district.  I would have to apply for a boundary exception and wait to see if we were approved.  Maybe a new school with a new special education staff would be more invested in Luke.

My final thought in this whole school debate is preschool.  I thought for sure I wanted Bella to go to preschool but now I am not so sure.  There is no written rule that says she has to go to preschool at 3 years old.  Just not sure of anything anymore.  :(

Anyway...the reason for all this school talk believe it or not is that registration for all these schools (private and preschool) begin in Feb.  CRAZY!  If you want your kids to have a spot you have to register SOON. 

Praying for direction and having faith in the journey,
Carissa :)

2 comments:

Emily said...

Hi Carissa,
I've been following your blog for a year and I don't think I have ever commented. I'm one of those "lurkers" who reads it, soaks it up, and prays for your family. While my kids don't have the degree of special needs that Luke has, I do have three kids with IEP's, and the struggles that come along with making sure they are getting the services they need. I'm right there with you, making school decisions for next year. We'll for sure have one in private school. I'm pretty sure we'll have three in public school, and one homeschooling. I'm praying that God will give you HIS wisdom, and clarity as you make this big decision. He already knows what is best for Luke, Grace, and Bella. He will make it clear to you, too.
Emily

Carissa said...

Hi Emily,

Thank you so much for your encouragement to me. I am thrilled that you have been reading the blog. Thank you for your prayers too. School is such a big decision and I just want what is best for the kids.

Prayers for your family as you navigate the system too!

Blessings,
Carissa

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