June 01, 2010,
D.L. asks from Fresno, CA on May 28, 2010
Communication with IEP Team
My daughter has an IEP with the school district she attends. I seek continual contact with the team that services her needs. I have provided a calendar for the teacher to write notes to me daily for the last two years. I email the team when I have questions and evan text some. All is good. I am a very involved parent and am a former teacher.
We just met for the 10-11 school year and they feel intimitated by me which is why they dont keep in touch with me like they should and they want to LIMIT my contact with them to only report cards, progress reports plus the annual IEP...really, I was so shocked. Of course, we are not proceeding til this is resolved. One staff member said "We are busy people with large case load, you have a copy of the IEP and progress reports, what more could you want?"
MORE...of course. Any ideas of how to communicate with your child team to satisify my need to know WHAT and HOW my daughter is doing YET make it doable for busy staff???
Thank you for your ideas in advance...
So What Happened?™
Very long, but wanted to respond to everyone.....
As a former ESE/SDC teacher, I am fully aware and do sympathize that we are all over worked and under paid, but what field isnt these days. With that said, budgets, paperwork and such do not determine the IEP...believe me, I know.
I was not clear in my original posting, I have daily contact with my daughters teacher via a log I provide and I email support staff possibly every 3-4 weeks, I just want that to continue...that is all... The agreement it seems is that that will continue but that instead of me providing a log, I will provide a check list with a comment section for daily contact and emails will continue as they are....I am fine with that.. The teacher this year, only writes the color she got (GREEN meaning great day). That is it. Not to much effort on her part at all, I think. I did request if anything other than green, she briefly describe due to my daughter not being to effectively communicate the situation to me. She has willingly done that. I would proudly report, my daughter tends to get green most of the school year, so the teacher writes the word "green" and that is it. If there is another issue, I will write her a note in the log or see her after school. I have been doing this for my daughter since preschool, and it has been such a relief to me. I am a single mom, working hard and do not always have the pleasure of seeing her teachers. In the past, I have communicated with teachers via email or logs, and this is ALWAYS determined by the person themself. I just ask they talk to me, THEY tell me how. If they could only do it 2 times a month via email, fine, I will watch for the emails. If they prefer me to remind them, I would be willing to do so. Teachers have always prefered the daily log, with the color...I have been accepting that as an option as well. The point is...just talk to me. I want to know what she is doing and how she is doing, by having this information I can HELP the team and SUPPORT them along with my daughter. The cool thing is if I know what she is doing and supporting her, she will SOAR!!!! One day, my daughter will be able to effectively communicate, and this will be a mute point.
Those of you who thought I text and called teachers at home, made me laugh. First of all, I would not have their cell phone numbers if they didnt trust me to use judgement. The teacher gave me her cell number after I picked up my daughter from daycare at 5pm to find her with blood all over her shirt. I checked her backpack, NO NOTE. I called the school, CLOSED. Can you imagine picking up your child with blood on them and NOT KNOWING WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM!!???!!! She gave me her number after that so I didnt panic again. I have NEVER used it, which is a blessing. The team leader gave my her text number, and we have used it to converse about IEP issues (during normal school hours). She runs from school to school, so cell is how she communicates with parents as she doesnt have a set place to call to to leave messages. I email most of the time. The last time I texted her was to find out the location of the IEP as she didnt not indicate where on the IEP notice.
This year, second grade, has been rough for so many reasons. We started the school year with the school district NOT following the IEP and providing support services. I had to fight and contact Procedual Safeguards in the end just to get them to finally provide services which started in Nov. I think this was the begining of our issues. They feel nervous by me, and I dont trust them and it will take time to develop our trusting each other.
Those of you who did mentioned trust, and me having issues. You are RIGHT!!! I dont trust them. I found out about the services not being provided by my daughter. I guess they were hoping I would never find out. My daughter is mainstreamed but pulled out for support services..she is behind her peers.
I loved the point a person made about them maybe feeling I was checking up on them yet really I am checking on my daughter. GREAT POINT!!!! I didnt think of that, and I bet that is it. I am not checking on them or policing them, I just want to know how my daughter is doing and what she is doing. I know these teachers make lessons plans, they know what they are doing. THOUGH..One of the team members said she MAY change her plans weekly so she could not give me a monthly plans. By monthly plans I mean, "This month we will work on nouns and verbs". Brief statement, I dont want a storybook. I am glad I am not her supervisor. Can you imagine your teacher making her monthly lesson plans to them change them weekly. I know my principals MAY let that fly once...lol.
I will check on those websites, thank you so much.
On a more personal note, my daughter isnt wanting to go to school. Her deafness is something she cant really hide. My daughters issues are speech and reading and writing, mainly. She excels in all other subjects. Knowing what she is doing, I can help set her up for success. I feel her frustration when she tries to tell me something about school, and I dont understand her. But I see her so excited when i know the topic at hand, she smiles from ear to ear and tells me all about it. Since I know the topic, I can help her and guide her language so she is learning to become an effective communicator.
I am such a proud mommy and am so blessed to have such a wonderful dynamic daughter. My goal is not to control every move the school district makes. My goal is to see my daughter attain her goals, excel and SOAR!!!!.
D.S. answers from Sacramento on May 29, 2010
I would go higher up. Go talk to the principle. If that doesn't help go to the school district. Keep going until you get help or until they listen to you.
J.B. answers from Atlanta on May 28, 2010
Well, I'm a former Special Ed teacher, and do you understand how much paperwork they have to do on a daily basis? Unless everyone agrees to make daily progress reports part of your child's IEP (which would be highly unusual), then you shouldn't expect them. I understand you being concerned about your child's performance, and that's wonderful, but you should really try to work something out on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Special Ed teachers in most systems have been asked to add even MORE case loads to their already bulging pile due to economic downturns and lack of funding. They're some of the most over-worked teachers you'll ever find. No one needs to be texting daily -that's for sure! I'm sure rather than being intimidated, they are simply exasperated.
If they cave and start doing all of this for you and your child, then they have to do it for EVERY SINGLE CHILD. That's completely impossible. As a parent, you are primarily still responsible for your child's education, where they receive it and how they use it. The school functions as a place for learning and learning facilitation, but it's not the whole package. It's wonderful that our schools now have a system set up for special needs children, because for many years they did not. However, given the limited resources and money -they can't do everything. I don't understand why regular progress reports wouldn't keep you up to date? The only time I can see any daily communication being necessary is if you're dealing with a behavior disorder -and only then for a certain period of time.
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on May 29, 2010
Unless the IEP is not working for your daughter, I have to agree with the team at school. Why such a need to helicopter? I mean we ALL want to make sure our child is getting everything they need at school, and sure, checking in once or twice between report cards seems reasonable, but these people are INCREDIBLY overworked. I have an ADHD daughter and I work part time at her school, so I'm very familiar with the whole process. Please try to keep lines of communication friendly and appropriate for the situation, it's in your daughter's best interest. Calls and emails should be done at school and during business hours, please don't call or text teachers/staff at home, that's really crossing a line :(
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B.R. answers from Sacramento on May 29, 2010
My thoughts as reading the first part of your post were that you were probably being a bit aggressive in contacting them. I have to agree with them for the most part that you need to back off. If you have a specific question that comes up in between IEP sessions, I think you should talk to her teacher about those things. Other than that, I do agree with them that the scheduled IEP meetings and reports should likely be enough for you. Funny that you say you are a former teacher, yet you are having problems with this.
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K.V. answers from San Francisco on May 29, 2010
Before having our 2 boys, I worked w/kids w/disabilities for almost 20 years. The last several years, I was an aide for kids who were included in the regular ed. classroom. I don't know what kinda classroom setting your daughter is in but I'm gonna have to say, I agree w/most that you might be asking too much of this IEP team. As others have said, your child is not the only one on their caseload. I also agree that texting is not an appropriate form of communication. For most of the kids I worked with, part of my responsibility as the child's aide ( as well as support for a handful of other kids) was to keep a daily communication log w/the parents. I didn't write in the log daily, just when needed. Based on what you've said, you have the yearly IEP, the report cars (probably 3x/year?) & the progress reports.....how frequent are these? You also have the calendar for the teacher to write in weekly. Plus, you hav P/T conferences so anything beyond this does seem a bit excessive. I just cannot imagine what else/more would need to be said beyond these forms of communication. I also wanna caution you from getting overly-involved. I have a very dear friend whose oldest son has a severe developmental delay. She became his strongest advocate which is a parent's job, disability or not, but she stretched herself too thin & her 3 other younger kids suffered from this. Meetings several nights a week, conferences, board meetings etc. I admire her greatly as she not only opened the door for her but for other people w/disabilities but it was too much. Once he it high school, I had a serious talk w/her about her need to be involved in every aspect (some of this stems from her now control-freakness!) & that she couldn't be there for EVERYTHING. She had to step back, let nature take it's course & remember no new is good news! I wanna encourage you to think about this as well. If you start now feeling the need to control so much, it will get exhausting....for everybody. It sounds like you have all of the appropriate forms of communication going on right now so I suggest you stick with that. Best of luck!
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J.S. answers from San Francisco on May 28, 2010
I guess it depends on how your daughter is doing. If her current plan is working well then perhaps just let it work. All parents (IEP kid or not) have the opportunity to have a quick chat with their child's teacher at pick-up time. I used to come a few minutes early and walk to my daughters' classes so I would be there when the bell rang. One kid one day, the other the next. That meant that I spoke directly with a teacher every other day. Generally this was just a quick 'hi, how'd it go today?' kind of thing, but it gave the teacher a chance to let me know if there were any unusual issues that day. If there was something needing to be addressed I knew about it right away without taking up more than a minute or two of the teacher's time. ( I also would be helping put chairs on desks, or pick up scraps of paper off the floor, etc. during our chats so I was not delaying the teacher's usual exit time. Activity also helps keep conversations more casual and less intimidating.)
The key is to show you respect their time. The class teacher has 20+ students and a resource teacher often has several more and is expected to produce written evaluations, reports, etc. for each one. They really are busy.
Having said that, if your daughter is not doing well with the current plan than a once a year IEP meeting is not enough. My nephew has several learning and behavior issues that are addressed in his IEP. During his first few years of school there was a meeting with his team each quarter to evaluate and fine tune the plan. During that meeting, they set out a new plan as well as a back-up 'next steps' type of thing in case the new plan didn't get the desired results. This gave the teachers a head's up about where things were headed if this plan didn't work, which they appreciated. Now his team meets twice a year to check in. It took a lot of work to get him to his current plan which is working much better, but if they had only met and adjusted once a year he'd still be really struggling. My SIL really had to fight for those quarterly meetings at first, but they made all the difference.
Step back and take an objective as possible look at your daughter's progress. Are her accommodations working for her? Is she progressing well with the current plan? If so, back off a little. I wouldn't agree to just report cards, progress reports and the annual meeting though. I require more than that with my non-IEP kids. I think texting should be a definite no-no. Regular voice mail and/or email is sufficient. Requiring daily notes is a lot to expect of a teacher over the long haul. If your child is experiencing an unusual situation that you would like to get a handle on, a daily check list (very simple) could be used for a couple of weeks until the child's situation has improved, but daily notes for two years straight is a lot to ask. Popping in to say hi as the kids are being picked up is a much easier solution for the teacher. If there were ever a more serious conversation needed, I would send my daughter out of the room to play on the playground to allow us some privacy. I don't know the severity of your daughters situation, but this worked for us.
Try to find a good middle ground. One that addresses your need to stay informed, but also respects their time.
I am updating in response to the additional info that your daughter is deaf. Do you think the school is equipped to handle this specific challenge? If not, you need to get the support of your audiologist and document exactly what sort of support/education your daughter needs to become a proficient communicator. If you have the resources to provide her with private support (lip reading, sign, etc.) that is a good idea. However, the school is legally obligated to provide her with an appropriate education for her needs. If you can not afford your own extra support the school must provide it. In this era of cutbacks and extreme lack of funding, they will fight this with everything they have. (not that I blame them) If you can afford it, the school would appreciate your supporting them in this way. If you can't, fight them for it. You have to document that is is necessary, not just desired. I have a friend who's son attends a private school for severely Autistic children and the school district pays the tuition, as they were not able to provide her son with an appropriate education.
Seek first to work with the team and repair the relationship. Take an objective look at your expectations and try to separate 'necessary' from 'desired'. The school is responsible for necessary only.
Good luck with this.
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S.K. answers from Sacramento on May 29, 2010
I understand your concerns and your desire to be involved with what is going on with your daughter. It's more than I can say for many parents with kids who have IEP's. However, I will have to take the side of the IEP team. With the cutbacks and layoffs of many teachers, these people are extreamly overburdened with their caseloads. They cannot possibly be expected to teach the children, keep up with regular IEP's, and then also keep in contact with every parent on a regular daily basis. I would try to follow the lead of the team and trust that if there is a problem they will let you know. Progress reports are there to give you an update of what is going on. You can also keep an eye on your daughter, and if you feel something is starting to go awry then you can try to contact the team and set up an appointment. But again, please try to trust the team that is working with your daughter and let them do their jobs.
Also, if you are concerned that you do not know what homework she has and that sort of thing, then I would try to get and addendum to the IEP that states your daughter and her teacher will fill out a daily planner so that you know what is going on. But I think, even though she is 8, she should be working on this on her own, it will help her to become more self sufficiant and it also helps her to be involved in her education.
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on May 30, 2010
You sound like a real burden to teachers. It is one thing to make certain that the teacher(s) are fully aware of your child's needs and occasionally communicate with you, but think about your demands on the teacher X however many students are in the teachers class(es). Every parent would like that same consideration for their children, IEP or not. Add to that the massive preparation time to provide each child a good educational experience everyday.
One thing a teacher can do for all parents in this digital age is to provide lessons, assignments, scores of student work and updates online. They can provide PowerPoints, copies of worksheets, and other material online as well. There are a plethora of companies who have tools to provide these services that are purchased by school districts. They are for the expressed purpose of enhancing communication with all parents.
I don't blame you as a parent acting on behalf of your daughter. Truly not. You might find a private school more responsive where the impossible is not expected of teachers. They tend to have far fewer students.
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L.C. answers from San Francisco on May 29, 2010
Here is a website that you can check out. It's the law! Your school district is required by law to provide you any services that you ask for! It comes out of our house taxes! Good Luck to you! You are the only person who can fight for your child! ~ Lucy B.
How Will Individual Education Programs (IEPs) Change Under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act .... Education Laws & Regulations · Special Education ...
www.disabilityinfo.gov › Home › Education › Laws & Regulations - Similar
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