Tuesday, September 22, 2009

School Fights...When to Fight

The missing original interm report which was altered by the school via white out was found while I was looking through every school paper I had in the house. I was surprised and thrilled! When I showed it to the lawyer I had to point out “you need to hold it up to the light and look at the back of the paper to see what the original grades were. They were written in BLUE ink and the new grades were written in Black ink! On the facing side you could see that some grades were written in black (over white out) and the rest were written in BLUE ink! I had given up on ever finding that interm report but I finally found it when I stopped looking for it.

Another VERY surprising find was that the school had performed an evaluation in 2007. This was done without my permission and without a hearing. Those are the only two ways a school can perform the evaluation! I had received this evaluation just before Snow White transferred to the new school but thought it was just one of those plans the school was going to implement. It wasn’t until after I received and reviewed the evaluation from the Dr. I employed over the summer to perform the requested school evaluations that I saw….they were the SAME!! No wonder the school hounded me over and over again to sign the papers! They over stepped themselves and the law by a full year!!

The school insisted they had no recommendations to follow from the previous school but also state they did their best. I know they did their best to undermined my daughter’s education as much as they could. They board her to death on purpose!!

After the last school meeting the Friday before school started the school still insisted that they would hold my daughter in 4th grade based on her grades. They said if she had gone through their testing she would have been classified as Chapter 15 but based on the recommendations of the Dr. who tested her over the summer she is not Chapter 15. “Children with disabilities are not held to the same standards as others and are passed on to the next grade even if they do not meet the state standards.” Ok, I find that appaling in many ways since their view of disabilities is so vast how do they get away with it? Why are they encouraged monetarily to have a quota of disabled students?!” Oh, now I find out that the school which is a short distance from my daughter’s old school takes in a number of children from poor neighborhoods. This is a good thing in my opinion but tax and school money wise apparently is not a good thing. The school needs money and this is where their Gravy Boat comes in! They are educators! This shouldn’t be the case!!

My daughter was classified at Chapter 15 illegally due to the evaluation by the school without authorization but still classified as such. They tried to cover their butts and I didn’t just lay down and do as they told me to.

As soon as I had the test results in my hands I called the Principal and requested a meeting be held to let them review my daughter’s test results (August 14th). The tests they badgered me about having done for the past year. Remember I had not received Snow White’s report card until about a week before this and I had received her test results. The Principal said she would agree to meet with me and during the conversation she asked if my lawyer received the copy of Snow White’s records? The Principal went on to say “I made the copies myself and sent the box down to the Special Education teacher to mail out.” I told her that I had not heard anything about it since the school asked if I really wanted a full copy so I guessed they had them. I called the lawyer’s office to find they had not received them. I called the Principal back and told her they had not received them. She called me back later that day to say “If you would like us to start making the copies it will be $100.” I told her I would pay her the $100, pick them up at the meeting and deliver them myself to the lawyer! Didn’t she JUST tell me she made the copies?! How is it not possible they were not made and sent out?! Why didn’t my lawyer call and tell me? This was supposedly done before the end of the previous school year and school was about to start again!!

I went to the meeting that Tuesday without my lawyer because he was in court and the notice was too short. I understand the short notice thing but I NEEDED to let the school know the testing was done so my daughter should be in 5th grade not 4th like the lady said on the phone the week before. Oh, I called the week before and asked for a meeting with the principal to discuss who my daughter’s teacher was since I had not heard anything yet. The woman who answered the phone told me who my daughter’s 4th Grade Teacher will be.

So, I attend the meeting with the Principal, and I was introduced to the other two women at the table. One was said to be the Superintendent and one was the Director of Special Education (DSE). The DSE was none other than the woman who sat next to me at the previous meeting and said they didn’t have to take recommendations from outside sources and that outside sources usually misspelled the names of the students tested which meant they were not sure the real student was actually tested. This was the same woman who said she observed my daughter in class that day and my daughter was actually at home with a fever and vomiting and did not attend school that day. She also misspelled my daughter’s name in every instance she used it in that observation report she handed to me.

During the meeting I gave the testing report from the Dr. to the Principal.
She made copies for everyone and handed them out. No one looked at them but tucked them under their crossed hands on the table. I was sitting next to the DSE and to her left was the Superintendent and to my right was the Principal. The meeting started off with the Principal apologizing for any misconduct or behavior I thought was inappropriate at the last meeting. The DSE stated that no such shouting, anger or pounding of fists every happened. She even laughed as she said this!

This meeting was important and I decided not to show my anger towards the DSE. I decided to not look at her through the rest of the meeting. How could she?! How could she just sit there all calm and lie like that?! And give that awkward laugh about it all?!! I had to remain calm and fix what was wrong for my daughter. Anything I had to say to DSE would have to wait until later.

The Principal focused on the grades of the last quarter and how bad they were. I reminded her what my daughter’s grades were before attending this school and within the first three quarters. The Superintendent stopped me and said she “I have to say this. You will not leave this meeting happy. We cannot pass your daughter based on these grades.” Just as I was about to say something the Principal spoke up and said “ You didn’t contact us about summer school so we thought you knew she would repeat this grade.” I spoke up and said “You know I didn’t receive her report card until about a week ago.” She responded “We didn’t know that. Why didn’t you ask for it sooner? All parent’s know the report cards go out the last day of school.” I was fighting back tears when I said “I don’t know the routine of this school. I thought you were holding it until her test were back. You said…the last meeting it was said if I don’t sign the papers to have her tested she would be held back.” The DSE tried to interrupt but I spoke up and faced her “You said if she was tested she would pass. If I signed the papers for the school to test her you would pass her. She was tested as I promised and now…” I had to stop because I was not about to shed tears in front of them.

The DSE said “I don’t know where you come up with this stuff. We never said if you had her tested she would pass.” I was at the end of my rope with this woman! She lied about observing my daughter that day, she lied about the outbursts from the last meeting and now she was lying about what she said?! I stopped breathing for a minute then decided it was better to forget she was in the room and resume the meeting. Something had to be done NOW so my daughter would start off the school year right and in the right grade with the right accommodations to insure her trust in the school.

I reminded the Principal that summer school was not an option due to the lateness of the report card. She explained that summer school would not have been a factor in promoting Snow White as it was just an introductory to 4th grade and not something to pass 4th grade. Thinking to myself …Um, why mention it if it would not have been a help???

I did mention that Snow White passed the State Exams for her grade at Proficient and Above Average. They all said that didn’t matter as Snow White “did not demonstrate the concepts of 4th grade.”. I asked if the school has separate concept of 4th grade than the State but they said they were the same. Still they held fast to the point they would not promote Snow White to the 5th grade. The Principal added that Snow White told her “I did less work in 3rd grade and they passed me.” I also reminded the Principal that Snow White also told her that she didn’t do the work in class because it was too hard. Yet, she would blow through a whole weeks worth of incomplete work in 15 minutes at home but I couldn’t understand why she didn’t accomplish this in all the hours she was at school. I also reminded her of Snow White’s words “I cannot go in that room with all those important people…” She was intimidated by them and told them what she thought they wanted to hear! The Principal let out a little giggle as did the rest but she said she understood but hoped that Snow White would understand this year that she does have a voice. In the back of my head I am thinking why should she think anything different this year? The school has always done what they please no matter what I say and I am her Mother. If I don’t have a voice here why would she?

I give up on convincing the school and think the lawyer will have a better hand at this. Since school starts in less than a week and the lawyer is in court all this week, I move on. “So, no matter what grade she is in what will be different this year?” Their focus is on Snow White changing and I tell them her Dr. who did the evaluation fears that if Snow White is retained she will withdraw from school and eventually outside interests too. They still maintain that she WILL be retained and incorporate all recommendations by the Dr. I ask how and they explain she will use a computer rather than writing out her assignments and tests. She will have classes in school as to how to use the computer in these tasks.

The Superintendent said the school records will be ready the day after school starts (they didn’t have them ready for me to pick up). Also, I wrote out a check to the school for $66.50 for the records as they said it would cover what they could copy. The Principal said “It would have costed over $600 to copy the whole file.” I will take what they will give me and leave the rest up to the lawyer.

One thing we all agreed on was that since Snow White had no idea she would be in 4th grade again it would be very beneficial for her to meet with her teacher before school started. This would help avoid some of the gossip and rude comments by other students and help Snow White feel assured she was in a safe place. It would also give me time to speak with the lawyer. The meeting was set up for following Friday at 3 pm. This meeting was selected by the Principal.

Ok, so the first meeting was Tuesday and the next meeting was set up for Friday. The Thursday in-between I receive a call from the DSE who called just to make sure I understood there was no need to hold the Friday meeting. After all, she is going to be in 4th grade and it’s nothing new to her. There is nothing more to discuss. I objected and said “ I thought the purpose of this next meeting was so that Snow White could meet the teacher?” DSE said “I don’t know where you come up with this stuff. No one discussed her meeting the teacher. The teachers will be in meetings until 3 pm and no one will stay after for this meeting. Why would you ask for a meeting when you know the teachers will be out?” I reminded her that the Principal set the time of the meeting not me and I had no idea but thought it would be best if Snow White met with the teacher rather than be thrown in to the fire.” The DSE actually LAUGHED at me!!! Something in me snapped! I said that I still expected the meeting be held and that Snow White meet the teacher!” She said again that she didn’t know why I was so upset and making up stuff. I really lost it and actually YELLED “OK, LET’S JUST THROW HER IN THE FIRE AND LET HER JUST DEAL WITH IT! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT! RIGHT! FROM NOW ON I WILL BRING A TAPE RECORDER WITH ME SO I JUST DON’T MAKE UP STUFF! HOW ABOUT THAT?!!!” She started to respond but I hung up on her!! I called the school and left a message for the Principal “I do NOT appreciate the way your staff speaks to me! I do not appreciate the antagonizing phone calls! Call me BACK!!”

The Principal did call me back. I asked her if the meeting for Friday was to be canceled and she said “No”. I asked her if it was part of the plan for Snow White to meet the teacher at Friday’s meeting and she said “Yes.” I explained the phone call from the DSE and the Principal said “I don’t know why she would say that? Of course the teacher will be there. That was the plan we agreed on.” I asked her if she spoke with the DSE and she said she had. The Principal asked me why I thought the DSE would say such a thing and I told her that woman lied in the meeting, she lied about the previous meeting and what was promised as well. I said “If I never see that woman again I wont be disappointed but if she has to be in the meetings I do NOT want to sit next to her! I cannot stand that she lies and right to my face!” I also told her that from now on I WILL bring a Recorder to every meeting and Record every meeting so I don’t Make Up Stuff’!

I met with Snow White’s lawyer Friday for an hour just before the meeting with the school. I told him everything that happened and he asked me over and over again if the Superintended of the schools was really there. I told him the name but he said I must have got it wrong so I described her to him. Then he laughed! The woman in the school meeting had long beautiful braids of silver and black, I told him she was very strong and verbally to the point. He looked at me quizzically so I added she is African American. I thought he was questioning the braids but he knew the Superintended had very short red hair, when I said she was African American he knew I was not introduced to the Superintendent of schools as the Superintendent is very fair skinned, actually lighter than me and I actually reflect camera flashes. Another couple I know in the area pointed out the Superintendent in this years school calendar and it was NOT the woman introduced to me in the meeting. I am ashamed that I did not know who was who in the meeting. I have now made it a point to know the names of the school board and all educational supervisors. I have no bias towards race, color, creed or religion. I was made a fool because I didn’t know the difference between who was Superintendent and who was pretending. A very fair skinned, short haired, red head and an African American with braids half way down her back is a very big difference in who I would later describe as the person who was in the meeting. How could the school hearing go well if I described the woman who was in the school meeting as the Superintendent of schools? The woman in the meeting is part of the school and I pointed her out in the school calendar to my lawyer. This is a point that will be addressed in the hearing. Thank goodness someone thought to ask me!!! I will pay more attention to who is who in the meetings I attend now, rather than just believe what I am told by the school.

In the meeting with the lawyer he asked me about the Dr.’s recommendation and I told him what she said “it would be detrimental to Snow White if she were held back. There is no academic reasons to hold her back. If she is held back she will shut down in school and then shut down in her outside interests.” I explained that she faxed a letter in that regard to the school already. He called the Dr. and had me speak to them requesting a copy be faxed to his office and it was sent post haste. He gave me a letter and a copy for myself to deliver to the school at the beginning of the meeting that day.

The letter stated 10 ways the school violated Snow White’s rights and the recommendation of the school certified Dr. stated in the enclosed letter the school had already received stated it would be detrimental to retain Snow White. It also stated that if the school did not promote Snow White to the 5th grade proper legal action will be filled that following Monday, the day school started. I handed that letter to the Principal as soon as I arrived at the meeting. She faxed it to the real Superintendent of schools and waited to hear from her before starting the meeting. Then it was unanimous in the schools eyes that they were not in the wrong as the testing now states that Snow White is not really a Chapter 15 or covered under the disabilities act.

I told them this from the beginning but they pursued it and pursued it. They badgered me in every way possible. What they did to my daughter is unforgivable and must be undone! They tried and tried to paint her into a little box of what they needed funding for! There are so many children out there that actually NEED this funding like my Niece! My Brother and Sister-In-Law fight month to month for my niece to have appropriate services.

Back to the meeting on that Friday, the Teacher did show up but she was late due a friend being in a near fatal car accident. She wasn’t very late. The attendees were myself, Dr. Kelly (school psychologist),. Principal and 4th grade teacher. Snow White was in the main office waiting until we adults discussed what was expected before Snow White was to come into the room. The teacher and Dr. Kelly were given copies of the report of the Dr. and recommendations. The teacher seemed to be on board and offered up that she has many things in her classroom such as 9 lap tops. We discussed Snow White’s interests and how she could incorporate them in the classroom. Since an AlphaSmart or computer was one of the recommendations she saw no problem with Snow White using one of the in class computers. There were so many things this one 4th grade teacher said was at her disposal I wondered why these things were not available to Snow White when the School thought she needed them but now want to implement them.

At the end of the meeting it was agreed that by the end of the first week of school there would be another meeting to redo the 504 Plan and Chapter 15. By the end of the third week I had not heard anything from the lawyer or the school. I did receive a flyer in Snow White’s folder saying Mrs. Dunn, the original school Occupational Therapist, would be in Snow White’s classroom. A week later I emailed her requesting a meeting. Within two days she agreed to meet with me. I received an email that Friday stating she would meet with me and I immediately agreed. My boss understood only half of what has happened over the past year so he gave permission for me to take leave early that day. What really prompted this meeting was the fact that I allowed myself to believe the school would do as they promised. They said they would abide by the recommendations of the Dr. One recommendation was that Snow White be allowed to use the computer rather than write out assignments and tests. I received an email from the teacher asking my permission for Snow White to use the computer for her assessment next week. I thought they were already giving her instructions and she was using the computer. My mistake for trusting them to do what they said they would. Snow White had not used a computer nor told she was allowed to use it after three weeks of school. She was told that only 7 students per week were in the computer group and only then could they use the game disks in their free time.

Oh, the outcome of the testing over the summer was - Snow White can use both hands for everything, holds her pencil in her right hand like a lefty which results in major criss-cross firing of the brain to manipulate a pencil….meaning it does take her longer to write things down. The rest of the testing shows that she has a major distrust of teachers and the school system as a whole.