Several of you have emailed, tweeted, or asked on Facebook for updates on how the IEP meeting went last week. Unfortunately, I am still iffy on what the district can really deliver on and what is most appropriate for Taylor. Our meeting last week took 3 hours – now I asked at the beginning how long these meetings generally take and I was told there is not a set time, that’s great, but you know they have a ballpark. I figured out about halfway through when they all started looking at watches and having to step out, taking a phone call, etc. that we had gone past the time frame they usually have. That was ok with me, because I am there to advocate for MY child and it takes the time that it takes. I realize I talk a lot and ask a lot of questions, but that is just who I am.

The overall feel of the meeting was that they really aren’t sure exactly what is most appropriate for Taylor because I homeschooled him before this semester for several years. He was only in school for a couple of weeks in January before he was placed (grrrr) on homebound. For those that aren’t sure of the difference, as a homeschooled family we were not involved with the school district at all. As a family we were totally and independently in charge of Taylor’s education. Being placed on homebound is a placement done by the school district for various reasons (including as a way to skate around long term suspensions as in our case). As a homebound student the education still falls on the school district and Taylor was entitled to a whopping 5 hours per WEEK of “instruction”. I truly feel that the rules that allow such a limited amount of instruction is not acceptable for probably any child and this is an issue I feel strongly about and will try to get some policy change on. However, that has to wait until I get things more settled for Taylor first.

The meeting itself was them pretty much giving me an idea of what they had already come up with. My listening (I really did my best to listen) and then responding. Then bringing up my points after they were done. All of this was working on what will happen for Taylor starting next year. The school is starting a new program in the fall that they want to put him in. On paper, well no when spoken about by the staff during the meeting, it sounds like a plan that has some positive qualities. However, I am hesitant on being able to trust they will be able to deliver. We have heard many things from the district over the years and honestly they have failed my son so many times that it is hard to trust them to do what they say. With the IEP in place we have more legal grounds to stand on if they don’t, but I honestly just want to see the school stop failing my son and not have him suffer when they fail him. By fail him I don’t mean give him an F grade, I mean that they are not succeeding on providing him the education that he is entitled to. Big sigh (I do that a lot on this topic).

After that part of the meeting I brought up what has been happening this year and the messed up grades (we have access to view grades online at any time), the lack of communication from the school to the homebound educators, and about them making up for how they have totally screwed up teaching him any math (algebra) this semester. Also, to find out if the homebound instructor had all of the required work for him thru the end of the year or not. Those questions were all answered with “I don’t know, but I will find out”. I can appreciate that answer and understood why he didn’t know the answers that moment.

At the end of the day there were 3 things that were on the table that were to happen ASAP. First, that they find the answers to those answers to the questions about what was going on this semester right away (there is less than 2 weeks of school left). Secondly, that within a day or two (yesterday at the latest) I would receive my copy (I offered to go pick it up even and save postage) of the completed IEP. Finally, Taylor’s primary teacher/caseworker for next year would meet him at the library Monday (yesterday) during his homebound time just to say hi, get a feel for each other, and try to start building that connection that is really needed.

So here is what happened instead. We had hoped the one person would contact his homebound teacher sometime before the end of the day Monday to get the answer to her about if he had more work that is required or what – he didn’t. I emailed him this afternoon and did get a reply. One of those parts of the reply makes no sense to me at all though. They said that since Taylor has been on homebound that they have received NO WORK FOR MATH so he has basically no grade then right after that they also stated they felt that appropriate services were provided to Taylor and so they didn’t feel they owed Taylor any compensatory services for math. Wait! What? How can they say that neither homebound teacher has turned in any work for Taylor in math but yet say that is appropriate services? Big sigh (again). Then I get an email from the leader of the IEP team saying that sorry, she is sick and has so many other things to do and that she will have my copy of the IEP to me within 20 calendar days at least – wait? what? again? Strike 2! This next part really is the worst. His teacher/caseworker said he would come by the library and he would email if his schedule changed. I really had to work with Taylor to get him on board for this and we came up with a plan for Taylor to talk to the teacher about computers since Taylor really is into that and get them off on a positive note. We sat there during homebound yesterday and 5:00 rolls around and goes by. I don’t say anything to Taylor, but I am watching the clock – nothing. Finally, at 6:00 Taylor says to me “I guess he isn’t showing up, yet another person from school who lied to me”, he was immensely bothered by this man – who is supposed to be the one he can rely on next year – to let him down on their first meeting. Late this morning I did receive an email from the teacher saying a meeting was late which caused something else to be late, blah, blah, blah. I really feel he should have emailed or called me yesterday when he realized he couldn’t make it. Now I have to work on building Taylor up for this meeting all over again. Huge, giant, mega sigh.

I am so thankful that I have had such great support and classes available to me from the MPACT, Missouri’s Parent Training & Information office, and that we have an wonderful advocate through the Missouri Protection and Advocacy Office. This is an amazingly complex tasks to take on and full of loopholes that the schools try to use to their every advantage. I do truly understand that the schools have a big job in educating our children and keeping everyone safe and staying on budget and that they are stretched very thin many times BUT my job, again, is to be an advocate for my child and make sure he receives the free and appropriate education that he is entitled to just as any child in our country is.

I will keep you all up to date as we move along this bumpy road.

(image source)