Mayo Moments

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fighting the Powers that Be

As I mentioned in the last post, I am becoming increasingly distressed by Leah's absences from school.  I have spoken with the school numerous times - the last two times, directly requesting help from the Educational Assistants, to have her assessed for an IEP, to have space made available for her to nap so she can stay in school more often, that work be sent home so I can assist in keeping her current etc.

Unfortunately, the response has not been good and I have been forced to move on to the next step.  Today I drafted a letter to send to the principal reiterating all my requests, my reasons for them and quoting supporting information from the school board's website.  I have cc'ed Leah's teacher, the Educational Resource Teacher and the Coordinator of Special Education at the School Board.  If nothing comes of this, then I will lodge a formal complaint with the school board.

I am greatly disheartened that it has come to this.  I can't believe that the school would not be more proactive in seeking/providing assistance for her.

I have included the body of the letter below.

Further to our conversations on February 15th and 22nd, I would like to re-iterate my request for a Team Meeting to discuss the educational and support needs for Leah.  I understand that the lack of an official diagnosis may make this a more difficult process, but the facts speak for themselves, she is missing an astonishing amount of school, and while at school it is noticeable that some days she is lacking the ability to work to her usual level.

As mentioned in her report card, Leah is constantly struggling to catch up on school work missed due to her frequent absences.  I understand that Mrs. ****** is working with her as time allows to bring her up to speed, but I cannot imagine that she has sufficient time to meet all of Leah’s needs. 

As of the date of the printing of Leah’s report card, she had missed 29.5 days of school.   As we discussed, this figure does not include the many, many days that she has come home after an episode.  She is normally a good student who is eager to learn, but with this amount of missed instruction, it is a terrible strain on both teacher and student to attempt to remain up to date.  As stated on the website;
Belief 6:
The classroom teacher needs the support of the larger community to create a learning environment that supports students with special education needs. 

From our conversations, I understand that any work sent home cannot be assessed for marks, but currently I am not receiving any type of work/practice for her to do.  I am willing to help her at home, but am not being given the opportunity to do so.  I have asked that any practice or work that needs to be sent home could be given to one of her three siblings at the school.

In doing some reading on the NCDSB website, I am given to understand that Educational Assistants are assigned to the school not a particular student, and I would like to again request that some time be dedicated to Leah to help with her school work and her trips to the bathroom/office/etc.  Based on the Emergency Protocol established at the beginning of the year, the school requested that Leah not be allowed to be alone when outside of the classroom.  Since then she has used other students to ensure her safety, I would prefer that safety issues be attended to by an adult.

I had also requested giving Leah an opportunity to lie down during the day, possibly at lunch.  We have noticed that a brief nap or chance to rest seems to be very beneficial to her and might give her the opportunity to remain at school more often.  I understand that dedicating a staff member to her for this time would be difficult, but again, that is where an EA would be an asset to her.  As for a lack of space, even a quiet corner in the library would be sufficient if a more suitable space was not available, or until one is made available.

While I understand best practices for a teacher would be to modify the teaching program as a student requires it, and I appreciate the offer of an IEP prior to the EQAO testing next year, to ensure she receives some sort of accommodation if required;  I strongly urge that an actual IEP be in place for Leah now. This would allow the IEP to follow her from teacher to teacher for continuity.  Leah’s needs are unique and a new teacher would need to have an understanding of what has worked in the past and what those needs are.  I am requesting the assignment of an IEP at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure she receives the necessary accommodation.   I strongly believe she needs one now.  Again, quoting the Guiding Principles:
·         The guiding principles for services to students are rooted in the belief that the Special Education Department advocates for all students.
·         Students and their successes are the focus of all decision making.
·         The foundation of programming and delivery is early ongoing assessment and intervention.

I am distraught at the idea of Leah falling so far behind that her marks and foundational studies are negatively affected.   This will hinder her chances for success as she progresses through her schooling.  This is something I am not prepared to allow.

As always, I can be contacted by phone or will make myself available for any meetings that would assist us in accessing the help that Leah needs.

Thank you,

Heaven only knows how this will turn out.  Keep us in your prayers.


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