Monday, February 10, 2014

Advocating with the fury of 1,000 fiery mama bears

My mama's boy has often struggled with school. Sometimes with the learning, mostly with HOW the learning takes place.

His recent diagnosis of ADHD has explained so much. I have worked on changing our diet at home, the organization of our house and his workspace, added more routine to our day...all to support his growth and development.

Of course, I was planning on the school coming and meeting me 1/2 way in the support of Mama's Boy.

But almost two months after his diagnosis...still, nothing.

I went to the school on Friday to pick up The Twins for their birthday treats for their Kindergarten class. Mama's Boy's case worker was there and intercepted me. She was so nonchalant about her approaching me it took me off guard. She asked if I was interested in getting FURTHER TESTING STARTED for Mama's Boy now that we had this diagnosis.

Um, WHAT???

Shouldn't that have gotten started months ago when I dropped off the medical diagnosis?

And why further testing? She CLEARLY stated in our last meeting that if I was able to the diagnosis there would be plenty more we could do for Mama's Boy but WE JUST NEED THE DIAGNOSIS.

I actually had to ask the twins to get in the car and roll up the window because I didn't want them to hear me give the lady a piece of my mind.

I called the superintendent to bring the situation to her attention. I wasn't going to call the principal AGAIN. I had called her two weeks prior, left a message and received no call back.

I returned to the school about 45 minutes later and there was paperwork there for me to sign to get testing started.

I signed. This case worker/psychologist was kind but was late to the game and received my story empathetically, but could do nothing to change where I was emotionally and mentally with this situation.

I received this email this morning from case worker #1:

"Thank you for expressing your concerns today. I have a few dates
available that Mrs. Taormina and I are able to meet with you. I have
CC’d Mrs. Stibbard as we have not had the chance to speak with her as to
her availability. The dates are:
Weds 2/12/14 at 1:50pm this is during Eddie’s PE time
Weds 2/26/14 at 3:35pm
Friday 2/28/14 at 8:30am

We hope that one of these times will work for you and Mrs. Stibbard.
Thank you for coming in to sign the assessment plan offered today.
Copies have been provided to our school psychologist and resource
specialist and they are aware that the timeframe has begun for assessing (Mama's Boy).

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Cody Ostadsharif, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Cupertino Union School District
408-255-2848 x126"

The teacher stated she couldn't make it until the last time.

I replied I didn't want to meet until Mama's Boy's assessments were done.

The case worker replied to that with this email:

"Hi,

Just to clarify you no longer wish to have a meeting immediately as was stated on Friday at approximately 12:10 p.m.? Would you be in agreement with moving his annual IEP meeting from May to whatever day is proposed to review his assessment results?

The testing timeframe began on Friday when the documents were signed. As our psychologist and resource specialist begin to reach the end of the assessments we will propose times to you as we get closer to the end of the assessments. We will do what we can to expedite the time frame for you, however, please note that it will be within 60 days from Friday. Which means on or before 4/8/14. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,

Cody Ostadsharif, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist"

WHAT???? Oh, now you want to get SMART and QUOTE THE SPECIFIC MOMENT I MADE A REQUEST??? Don't get smart with me and expect me to cower in the corner or tuck my tail between my legs. I DONT RUN FROM A BATTLE, especially one that I'm fighting on my son's behalf!!!

They dropped the ball. Legally, a parent request is the start date, at which the Cupertino Union School District had 15 days to create an assessment plan, at which point I would have to approve/sign that plan.

THEN the clock starts for the test, being 50 days (I believe- maybe 60, the wording here is interesting in different pieces of legislation that I've read) and then a final IEP or 504 plan. AND MIND YOU, Mama's Boy ALREADY has an IEP!!!

Filled with rage, anger, lots of stabby feelings...I sat in front of my computer ready to type out all of my feels.

I followed her email with my reply. I think you can see my level of frustration from the tone and the word choice. But please tell me they didn't deserve this.

Sent to the caseworker, the teacher, the principal and added the superintendent of Cupertino Union School District.

"You’re right. Let’s clarify Friday.

I think what I actually stated was that you and your school staff have severely dropped the ball when it has come to Eddie and providing services within his needs assessments and that a meeting to provide additional services needs to happen now. If this meeting is not for his additional services, why are we meeting? So that I can continue to tell you and the school that you are failing my son? That I have done everything you have asked of me and that now when the table is turned and you have a legal obligation to provide further services-or at a minimum according to you, further tests- you have not?

On October 24th, Mrs. Stibbard, you, and I met to discuss Eddie’s achievement, concerns, and needs. I expressed my concerns for Eddie’s lack of organization, his lack of focus, and his development as a 5th grader preparing for middle school.

The three of us were in agreement, but you expressed we needed some other diagnosis to provide further services. I expressed my concerns that he had ADHD, and you stated that if I was to get the diagnosis, there were many more ways the school could support him, but that it couldn’t happen until I received the diagnosis. “Just get the diagnosis,” you told me.

On December 19th, after two doctor appointments, a teacher assessment, parent assessment and final medical assessment, I received the diagnosis that I was anticipating and immediately brought it to the school. I personally handed it to you and you stated that we would get the ball rolling and try to see how we could begin to support Eddie with this diagnosis.

I asked for clarification, to make sure, was there anything else I needed to do at that time to get further accommodations and you stated NO.

I foolishly believed you. I have since received a minimum of three emails from Mrs. Stibbard about Eddie’s lack of focus, missing work, and test performance. I requested from Mrs. Stibbard information about where we were with supporting Eddie with this new diagnosis.

I called the school approximately two weeks ago to ask Mrs. Taormina, left a voicemail and received no call back.

I refuse to wait any longer on the testing. The woman who handed me paperwork on Friday said she would personally make sure this would be fast tracked. And I insist that this be done.

Maybe you see this as something that can be waited on, but I am personally taking the reigns on this. Your school is failing my son. He has less than one half a year until middle school, where this performance will definitely be one that will continue to keep him behind.

As far as I am concerned, the testing time frame should have started on DECEMBER 19TH. However, you dropped the ball on that one. Own that. Be responsible for how you failed my son on that day- as we teach our children they will be held accountable, so should we as adults be held accountable.

If this is a problem and you cannot fast track this as the other case worker stated on Friday, I do want that meeting, and I will have to insist on a meeting with the superintendent as well. She has been cc’d on this email.

-Angel Geden
 Angel Geden, M.Ed."

Let me just say, I will advocate with the fury of 1,000 fiery mama bears. I am the lioness, queen of the jungle, something far more fierce than any other animal. I will fight for my cub until I have exhausted my last breath. This is a battle I refuse to lose because winning it is too important to the future of my son.

1 comment:

  1. I have a son with autism so I understand your struggle. You have to be a squeaky wheel. You have to stay in the SPED Coordinator's ass basically. There are definitely more kids diagnosed with learning disabilities and not enough staff to handle it. Gone are the days where they put special needs kids in one classroom now that they are discovering these kids are just as smart, if not smarter and need an entirely different way to study. Girl, don't even get me started or I'll write a novel on your page. Just keep being his mouthpiece and don't stop until you get what you need for him.

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