Tuesday, October 21, 2008

School Frustrations, Voting etc.

Tyler voted for the first time today. Yay, Ty!

Three weeks into the school year last year we transferred four of our children to the public school system.

I didn't want them exposed to the swearing and bad attitudes but unfortunately there was plenty of that at the Christian school in the high school since our school would take kids who got kicked out of public. But it was more hidden at least. And the teachers never ever swore and the kids weren't assigned to read books for literature littered with the f word. The Bible was used in the classroom. But Tyler and Jessica didn't have any suitable electives. Tyler was assigned to home ec, which was taught by a computer program. That was when I knew it was time for a change with them being college bound.

I really didn't want to take Jasmine out of the school but if I left her in, she would have first child tuition and I would also be driving 24 miles twice a day with high gas prices. I was hoping that she would get extra help in the public school not available in the Christian school and that would make up for taking her from her cozy environment where her teacher really loved her.

But extra help is not to be had. There are a multitude of forms required for special help and it varies school system to school system but the one I have for Jasmine says "Physician's Statement required for orthopedically impaired/other health impaired/traumatic brain injured." I went in with this form and requested help for her fine motor skills--after all you do have to write, cut & paste, trace etc. at school--and for her adhd and lack of organizational skills which also effects her math.

This is Jasmine's writing homework today. This took her a long, long time and is her very best work but I know that it will get a S- at best because the letters aren't the same size and it starts out spaced and then gets more cramped because it is very hard for her to do this.

I met THREE times last year with the child study team and was told she didn't qualify for any help. She had to be failing in those areas. But she had an "N" in writing and "N" in behavior, to me that is failing and makes her eligible for special accommodations--occupational therapy and maybe special seating or a separate testing area. NOPE.

Here is what the Shand's team at the UF wrote on her paper in addition to what was checked.

EEC sydrome, fronto-nasal dysplasia with abnormal brain development, syndactly of hands and feet, leg length discrepancy, ADHD symptoms. Needs OT/PT, supervision for classroom accommodations with IEP. ADHD section 504 accommodations including preferential seating, positive reinforcement, organizational skills, small reachable goals. Jasmine needs psychometric testing for IQ and development/academics and to rule out learning disabilities. She may have difficulty with executive function and and impulse control due to her brain


But with all this, I still can't get her any help. Even if the teacher would sit her off to the side for testing and would understand that Jasmine's best may differ from the norm it would help.

They have this chart at school and almost every day now it has a number on it. The number 2 means that seatwork isn't done. By the "Character Counts" at the top, I assume this is a behavior chart and I don't consider seatwork not being done as a behavioral problem unless it is because she is busy talking or playing.

Today she got a #2 with a note on the back "Jasmine said she didn't have time to do her homework." I wrote back, "No, she didn't. That's my #2 not hers." There were six worksheets and two stories to read and we had dance and soccer. We worked 45 minutes and got done what we could. I meant to have her finish after soccer but it went late and she needed to shower and get to bed.

Here is an example of why I think there is a problem. Jasmine did a four minute time test at school today and only answered a few problems. There was a blank time test on the back. It's not suppose to be used as a time test, just homework, but I decided to time her on it. I set the timer for four minutes same as she did at school. I told her to answer the problems that had a 1,2 or 3 in them first because she can count those quickly. She doesn't have any memorized because they don't stick but does understand how to just count one more or two more. I told her when she did all the 1s, 2s and 3s, then go back and start trying to figure out the harder ones. She got 18 out of 25 right in those four minutes. If she can do it here, she should be able to do it there. If she can't, then there is a problem that needs to be addresses. Like maybe she needs to take the test separately or sit by the teacher or be reminded to do the ones she knows first. And it's not that I haven't met with this teacher twice already this year.

Okay, I'm done venting for now. Whew.

After this week we all needed a pick up so here's what we had for supper. (That's chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes, potatoes and stuffing. We had an Asian salad too.

Erg. Dessert has ten more minutes to cook then has to cool 30 before it can be frosted!


Lisa said...

Wow - I can't believe the frustration you must be feeling with Jasmine's school ignoring her learning issues and sweeping them under the rug. And to get a very specific letter from her doctor and still not get any more help! I think I'd write/call the state department of education. That is so unfortunate to have such an uncaring attitude. They're supposed to be helping the kids! However flawed the No Child Left Behind act is, do you think they'll start paying notice when she hits 4th grade?

Your dinner and dessert look yummy! We went out tonight.

Lisa said...

Oh - also, I sit next to a gal at work who has two special needs kids. They have fragile x. Her son is 9, is non verbal and has many needs. Her daughter is now in middle school, so is dealing with a lot of changes there, but she has less severe issues, as is common with the girls with fragile x. I've heard her on the phone several times in the last week discussing the IEPs with her children's teachers, therapists, and other providers. Even conference calls to discuss how they're all coordinating things, etc. This co-worker spends a lot of time advocating for her children, but they seem to be doing a great job. Sounds like the FL folks could learn a bit from the IA folks.

homeskoolmommy said...

Hi Kathy!
Thanks for your kind words on my blog yesterday. It was a busy day, so I just this morning had a chance to visit yours. Your family is beautiful! I will be praying for wisdom for you as you make decisions about a church home for your son and yourselves. That must be such a difficult place to be in life. My heart broke for him as you recounted the story of the way he'd been treated. I LOVE to see teens using their gifts to minister! Blessings to you all!

Chapter Two Manmi said...

Hi Kathy,
We are having trouble getting ELL (formerly ESL) services for our children though they've been home from Haiti less than a year (and are older--11, 9, 6). One thing you might try to find is a "child advocate." We have just gotten in touch with one. I'm unclear if we have to pay her but the point is, child advocates are very well versed in the rights of children needing services and advocate with or for parents. The one we called was referred by a friend whose friend used her to finally get services for their child in a neighboring district. The child also needed an IEP but they were given the run around until their advocate came with them to the meeting. Don't give up. The school is wrong.
Praying for you!
Chapter Two Manmi

One Crowded House said...

Kathy- my next door neighbor is actually a child advocate- and helps parents of kids with special needs. She sits in on IEP planning meetings- to advocate on behalf of the parents.... I am not sure if it is a free service or not- but maybe scan the internet or phone books- to see if there is something similar in your area.... my guess is they would know the "legal lingo" to throw at the school as well to help get J some services!

BIG DOG said...

It was great taking Tyler to vote for the first time. You should have seen the workers.
They were excited for him.

BIG DOG said...

Kathy - you are doing a great job!