Saturday, July 30, 2016

Moving

We are excited to be moving to a new school district for this next school year. Last year went pretty well for Hayden, but the year prior was extremely difficult for us as a family. I only alluded to it on this blog for multiple reasons.

For one, I wrote a blog post that the school asked me to take down, by way of my lawyer. Included in that post was a statement that read something like, "They managed to drag it out for a year, but we finally have an agreement on our due process." Due process means taking the school before a judge, to decide if they are in the wrong.

I amended the post rather than take it down. You can view it here.  I suppose the wording was probably incorrect, though that surely wasn't what they took issue with. The school didn't drag out the due process for a year, just the requests that I was making, including that he have a behavior plan, something that is required by law. That was definitely dragged out, in fact for about two years, if not more. But I'll explain that another day.

Going over documents the night before an IEP meeting with my super supportive husband.

For two, the school district retaliated against our family. Retaliation refers to some form of discrimination, coercion, intimidation or threat. You can learn more about retaliation and parent rights here. I will tell that full story another day, as well. It was very painful but the story needs to be told.

I don't plan to name the school. I don't need to. It's not about pointing fingers so much as educating the public. I have always wanted this blog to be about positivity and the sharing of information and ideas. There are so many things that parents of special needs kids don't talk about, or can't talk about, because of pressure from others. When my son was left on the bus, I couldn't share the story at the time. I was able to a few years later; you can read about it here. I shared it because I want others to be aware that these things can and do happen, and that there are things you can do to try to prevent them, and actions to take when they do unfortunately happen. It was an important story that needed to be told. The story of our due process experience is important as well. And as I process through what to share and how to share it, I will.

Rylie at baseball this summer.

The moral of both stories is that kids with special needs need to have advocates. Parents are unaware of laws that are out there to protect them. It is a goal of mine to share information for other parents to know what they can do, what they NEED to do, to protect their own children. The Wrightslaw website is a great place to start.

The kids on Hayden's birthday.

Children with special needs should not be seen as a burden to public schools, or as objects to be placed in one box or another. They are human beings who deserve to go to school and be treated with respect and kindness, just like any other child. This is all I ever wanted for my children. I didn't go searching for a fight.

And to clarify, none of this has been about the individual teachers working with my child. For the most part we have been lucky to have teachers who truly care about kids and only want the best for them. This entire process and the problems we've encountered have been at a level above the teachers themselves, mostly at the district level. His previous special education teacher was very kind and understanding, and has been a great help in Hayden's transition to a new school.

Take my picture mom! It's too small!

School starts next week, and I couldn't be more excited. Hayden's new special education teacher has already reached out to us and is more than willing to support his needs. I know he is in for a good year and I can't wait to share more about it with you. He works really hard and deserves to be in a place that does right by kids with special needs.

I told my husband the other day that I was trying to be brave, and he said that I'm not brave, I'm strong. I know that's because of the things I've experienced, and the attitude I've taken toward overcoming. I want not only to overcome, but also to lead those who have been in my shoes to become stronger themselves. I hope this blog inspires each of you spread your wings and soar.