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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why I Broke Up With Luke's IEP

It's not a secret.  Most everyone knows that I am trained and experienced Special Education Teacher. I have specialized mainly in special education preschool.  I have written over 100 IEP's and conducted just about as many meetings.  It has prepared me for advocating for my own children's needs. Luke has been on an IEP, or Individualized Education Program, since he was three years old.  He has an IEP because of his vast medical needs and learning struggles.  It is a plan set in place to help support him in the classroom.  Truth is if Grace attended public school she would have an IEP too for her needs.
This past week, I ended his IEP and my relationship with Evergreen School District.  I revoked his services and severed the connection.  Truth be told...his IEP plan really did NOTHING for him.  It was 15 pages of paper that did the bare minimum to help him. He attended a social group for 30 minutes a week, and had small group support for math and writing in the classroom.  He also had special accommodations for testing situations (mainly the state MSP testing).
The beginning of February Luke moved schools.  He began attending Camas Christian Academy. Honestly, I was scared of making this transition for him in the middle of the school year, but things hadn't been going very well in public school.  Over the last 5 years at our neighborhood public school, I have developed quite a reputation.  When one threatens a lawsuit you don't become a favorite parent. Multiple requests to help out and volunteer in Luke's classroom were met by STRONG opposition to me coming into his classroom, issues with his special education teacher, and one very horrible bus incident and Mark and I felt it was time.  Recently Luke confided in me that his previous teacher would yell repeatedly at the class and he told me that he felt she did not like him.  
The plan was to move him to CCA and also access his IEP services from the public school.  It was nearly six weeks before the school district responded to my requests for continued IEP services. During those six weeks, Mark and I watched as Luke found his way in a small mixed level classroom. 17 students, 2 teachers and differentiated instruction (meaning students are grouped and instructed at their academic level).  All of Luke's needs that were addressed on the IEP were being met in his classroom on a daily basis without and IEP.  He was in a small group for math, homework is adjusted based on his needs, accommodations are made to meet his medical needs.  We couldn't be happier! Ultimately, we decided that we didn't want to disrupt his school day by shuttling him back and forth between schools and having him miss instruction and class time.  And I am RELIEVED we will not have to live through the MSP MELTDOWN this year!!!
Since switching schools, I have been able to visit Luke each day in the classroom checking on his work and progress, communicate each day with his teachers, attend a class party and a field trip.  He has been to the symphony, a farm and has gone bowling.
I used to make myself sick debating the public school, private school, homeschool debate.  I have come to the conclusion that there is no PERFECT answer.  They all have there pro's an con's.  What works for one child will work differently for another.  Instead of trying to find the perfect school situation, I am finding the school that best supports each of my children.

When I called Evergreen School District to let them know of our decision to end his IEP, the staff said they were thrilled that Luke was doing so well in his new school and they were proud of the progress that he had made.  However, it was completely different story when I got the paper work in the mail to make it official.  The forms are written in such a way that makes you as a parent feel like you are hurting your child.  It states: The purpose of of this written notice is to inform you that, while the district believes that your child continues to be in need of services, the district will stop providing special education services to your child, based on your written revocation of consent.  It furthers says: The team continues to recommend the special education services, but the parent requested a revocation of consent in writing.  The parent is choosing for Luke to attend private school without accessing any special education services for her child.  Isn't that nice!  Even now it makes me feel like a monster.  Luke's IEP has been nothing but a battle...even an emotional battle in revocation.  I have fought for him, for justice and finally for release.  It is time to let go.  Time for my buddy to spread his own wings without strings attached.  I know he is going to fly.

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