E.N. asks from Dexter, NY on January 17, 2007
Need Advice on How to Deal with a School District!
My son's school is trying to force me to medicate him for ADHD. They are upset with me because I went outside their district and had an independent evaluation done. It came back that he was gifted in the asspect that some of his developmental/educational levels were of 5th to 6th graders versus his current grade (2). It was also found that he has MILD ADHD and the doc suggested we not medicate him because it is not affecting his daily life. The school has refused to accept the doc eval and wants to do their own. In short he has been pegged since pre-k and because i don't do everything they ask of me he is a labeled child. He is having reading problems...well in my opinion it's not a problem but an obstical. He can read but because he doesn't read how he talks they knock him down. They have pushed him to slow down and sound out words and now that he has they told him he needs to speed up! They need to make up their mind! There has been talk among teachers that there must be something wrong with him because he only weighed 1 lb 6 oz at birth. I have a girlfriend who has taught at the school for the last 5 years and she has overherd plenty of conversations regarding him and I. i am at the point of loosing control and telling them exactly what I think.
Does anyone out there have any suggestions on how to handle this nightmare? I have a meeting in the morning with the teacher and whatever school personnel she feels she needs present to help strong arm me. This has been a battle since day 1 and it needs to end! Help me Moms!!!
Your Mom In Need, E.
2 moms found this helpful
A.J. answers from Rochester on January 22, 2007
I went through the same thing with Gates-Chili and they ended up putting my son in a 15 to 1 class. This putting him behind. When I got him retested it was not his ability to do it more so that he was smart enough and hated the teacher that I admit was hard to deal with. She had signaled him out and that was that. In the longer here is what happened I had to have be tested and retested and mainstreamed back in to a regular class this causing him to be 2 years behind (please understand that hte first 5 years of school are the foundation). Finally I had to put him in a catholic school and normally when one comes from public they fail the first year. He passed and they are helping to catch up on what he has missed. DO NOT LET ANYBODY BULLY YOU!!! Hope this helps :) A.
P.M. answers from Binghamton on January 18, 2007
Hi when my son was little and first started school the school was trying to do the samething to me.The school kept telling me they wanted him tested for ADHD but i told the school no because they were full og it.My son was a preemie too when he was born he weighed 2LBS 14 ounces.The school is still tryiny to get him tested but the drs say that he doesnt have it.I wouldnt worry to much about it they cant force you and if they tell you they wont let him contuine to come to there school i will keep fighting.I think its the teachers now adays.Good luck
E.B. answers from New York on January 22, 2007
Get in touch with the Citizen's Commission for Human Rights at ww.cchr.org. They can help you deal with this o at least recommend the best course of action - you arent' the only one, unforunately this is a comon problem in the US.
No matter what, please don't give in, you are absolutely in the right!
Best of luck,
H.P. answers from New York on January 18, 2007
I want to start by saying that I am sorry that you are going through this. It is hard enough to be dealing with health/educational issues with your child without the school system making it more difficult.
I am a school psychologist in a Connecticut School System. If your son was a student of mine, or in the system that I work in there are many interventions that come to mind. First of all, we would complete our own evaluation. Not that we don't trust an outside doctor, but we like to gather our own information as it pertains to our curriculum and our guidelines for eligibility. Second, I as the school psych, would sit in and observe your son in class to help the teacher come up with strategies to help your son stay on task, learn more effectively and challenge where needed. I am incredibily insulted by the fact that there are teachers and schools out there that are pushing you to medicate when we live in a society that OVER medicates. Definitely stand by your beliefs with that. As far as the advice to get an attorney, I would seek out a parent advocate first if you feel that you are not being listened to. The parent advocates know the school system and what your rights are and will get the appopriate services for your son. Many times when attorneys have come to PPT meetings, they are less competent than an advocate. It will save you time and money. Also by getting an attorney and taking such an aggressive stance from the start is only going to establish a more uncomfortable relationship between you and the school which in turn will make it harder to work with each other. An advocate will speak your concerns to the school in a way that will get attention, but will also clarify to you what the school is looking for.
On a slightly different note, I am also very disappointed in some of the mothers that have responded to your request. Many of them have lumped public schools together saying that we "only want to medicate", "teachers don't want to teach anymore", and other such comments... as someone who IS a mother and a woman who works in the trenches day after day with SPECIAL needs children I CAN tell you with certainty that there are still great teachers out there and great school systems who want to do right by the student and their families.
Please feel free to contact me if you have other questions that I may be able to help you with. Good Luck.
S.C. answers from Elmira on February 17, 2007
I live in Elmira and have a son with ADHD and Bipolar. Last year I have ALOT of trouble with the school district. I have been able to get help now though. I made a referral for my self to Children Intergrated, and they were able to help gain alot of support and help I needed. I have also gotten involved with a groups called FingerLakes Parent Network. They have also been a great support.My E-Mail is ____@____.com if you'd like to contact me. Good luck!
L.W. answers from New York on January 19, 2007
go to the superintendents of school. call your doctor in on it. make the biggest stink you can think of.. AND CALL A LAWYER. THE SCHOOL ARE NOT DOCTORS AND CANNOT FORCE YOU TO DRUG YOUR KID. LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR AND IF YOU HAVE TO WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR EDITOR.. MAKE THEM LISTEMN
M.D. answers from New York on March 03, 2007
I have had a very similar problem with my school district. When my daughter was in 1st grade, the teacher came to me and explained that Hannah was having problems learning to read and asked if I would have her tested. I agreed thinking it was what was best for my child. Not so, All the tests were slanted towards what they wanted to find. The tests that didn't fit thier conclusion were labeled "subjective" including the psycologist eval in the classroom. We were told she had ADHD and we should take her to our doctor to discuss medication and treatment. My husband and I were blown away. Hannah was not in any way hyperactive and according to thier own psycologist eval 85% on task during class. They insisted that she had the inattentive part of the disorder and this was why she could not read. (she had no behavior problems -she just couldn't read) They also tried to strong arm me into going the medication route. I had her tested on my own and found that she had very mild ADD, a very high IQ and Dyslexia. The doctor said her ADD was too mild to require medication. What she needed was more help reading. My suggestion is -PUT IT IN WRITING. Anything you want on the record. Any kind of testing you want done. Anthing you think should be in his file. Put it in a letter and submit it, they have to put it in his file and they have to abide by it. Have the doctor write a letter stating that he feels your son doesn't need medication and submit it. Also if you can, get an advocate. They can help you be less emotional and they know your rights.
A laywer is a last resort. I ended up getting after school tutoring for my daughers dyslexia, at our own expense. She is in 5th grade now and doing great. She needs extra time on tests etc..She has an IEP for math (when she did one of the school evals she mixed up all her signs and did the complete math test wrong , so she ended up with an IEP in math-how funny is that) The school still refuses to use the word Dyslexia or provide any special reading instruction to deal with "her reading problem". But she is doing well in regular classes after her extensive one on one tutoring she received. By the way, Hannah had and has great teachers. It's the school district that I believe is the problem. They want a quick CHEAP fix to the problem. They want to label the problem. Unfortunately thier problems are our children. I am still fighting for Hannah and I will probably have to keep fighting for her until she graduates. Keep fighting for your son, your the best advocate he's got.
D.R. answers from New York on January 18, 2007
Hi E., I want to say that I am so sorry that you and your son are dealing with this, I know how frustrating and intimidating it can be to feel like you are up against the "powers that be"... that said, I must say that I am incredibly offended and saddened by the number of people who responded to you who feel that the schools are the enemy, and that teachers just want to sit around all day with a roomfull of medicated children. I am (pre-kids) a special ed teacher, and I also served on the CSE committee which is the way that kids are evaluated, and if need be classified, and all their individual plans made, etc. First of all, there is nothing "easy" about going up against a parent - nobody wants to do it, it actually usually leads to an incredible amount of work and risk that you have no idea about. Teachers work their asses off, get paid little money and even less respect, it is often a very mentally and physically exhausting job that less and less people appreciate, and people teach their kids that we are the enemy, which makes our job that much harder and depressing, and the kids get less and less out of their education. For the most part, teachers are very idealistic and do the job because they love it and they desperately want to make a difference. BUT.. there certainly are lousy, lazy, tired-been-at-it-too-long teachers out there, and administrators too. I've worked with great ones, crappy ones, and many in between. I have also seen a few kids where medication absoultely saved them. (By the way, someone wrote about food allergies having a tremendous impact on their kids performance/behavior, and I have seen that too, it was nothing short of a miracle when certain foods were omitted) But for the most part, I agree with you and most of the people here about medication. It would be an absolute last resort for me. Please realize that while your child may be performing differently than you may think in the classroom, he is still your child and YOU KNOW HIM BETTER THAN ANYONE. Do not forget that, and do not be shaken in your belief. I would absolutely not medicate him, at least not yet. And I WOULD absolutely have the district evaluate him. They are not evil-doers out to get you and your son. It can only help, it's free, and it will help your child's education whether or not you decide to give him extra services (and YOU will be the one to decide in the end, do not let them make you believe otherwise...YOU must sign off on any classification). You would not believe the number of parents who try to manipulate the system. This is why they cannot go solely on the eval of your doc. Many parents are understandably upset and defensive when it is suggested that their child may need some extra help, and they go to a friend, family member, whatever, who happens to be a doc and will write whatever they want. So it's hard for the schools to go by an outside source alone, and they shouldn't. Just like they/you shouldn't let their evaluation be the only one. You did the right thing going to your doc, and your docs eval should be an equal part of the process. And when they do the eval, ask them who does what. If there is a teacher/evaluator in particular that you think is going into it with a bias against you or your son, ask that they have someone else do it. If you aren't sure about his teacher... I have had many students where the parents tortured me but I loved their kid and did everything I could for them.... just ask your son. Don't lead him, just openly ask him if he likes his teacher and if she/he like him. He knows. And absolutely keep every sliver of paper, keep a log of all calls/communications, be organized and be cool. Be sure you get copies of the evaluations, and bring a parent advocate to the meetings. Leave the threats out of it for now, it just makes you look emotional and unreasonable. And please try to have an open mind and know that it is of the most benefit to your son to have you and the school working together. There is nothing inherently wrong in getting extra services if that is what your son truly needs, it will give him more help, more individual attention, and more people involved in him and keeping an eye on things, which might be a great thing if you're not thrilled with his regular teacher. Special ed is not the "special ed" that it used to be, it can help so much, you wouldn't believe the number of kids who get one service or another. And if he doesn't need it, the evals really should show that, and at the very least will give the parent-school team more insight into your child's needs. These evals would help EVERY kid, it's the individual attention that they would all get in a perfect world. Hope that helps, and best of luck, D.
D.B. answers from Binghamton on January 26, 2007
Hold the phones the school district can't tell you what to do to your son, sorry i went throught that at my son's old school and i mean i was livid but i moved and put him in to a diffrent school district and he is happy and doing alot better. but the school needs your permission to do any thing to your son testing wise- Good Luck
E.L. answers from Rochester on January 27, 2007
Erika, I went thru this years a go with a few of my five kids in the Brighton school system. My general impression is that schools today have little understanding of normal behavior or tolerance (in general) for those who do not fit to what they think the <<mold>> is. They want quiet, manageable kids (especially the boys) and they really don't have tolerance to wait for late bloomers or kids with indivuality who don't seem to fit into the system so they push some kind of medication.
When I subbed as a school nurse, it was hard to understand why so many kids came in everyday for their ritalin dose. I think in all my years growing up, I knew one kid that by
todays standards was probably ADD. The rest of us had rules and regulations and discipline in the school and there were maybe 40 in a class at that time. We all learned to read and write and we went on fine with our lives. I was a rather shy child. It was not easy for me in the least. But,If we were in school today, I bet a whole bunch of that generation would have been on medications. My son who is 30 now thinks we made a big mistake getting talked into putting him on Ritalin. We never saw much difference anyway. His personality was somewhat reticient by nature and school work did not come easy to him at all. He is prone to depression but doing better, and now he is getting a master degree in cell biology. Even my pediatritian felt he needed medication. He certainly was not the hyperactive type. I have another son that was in special classes because he could not march to the drummer's tune... he says today he was lazy, nothing else. The professionals felt he has some kind of learning disorder. It cost us $500 to get him tested. The doc said he had some kind of visual interpretation problem. Hard to believe... I think my son was right and it was mind over matter when he was ready to achieve. Now he has a master degree in mechanical engineer working for GM! My youngest was on ritalin for awhile. I can't say it helped and we stopped it after awhile. He is a great upbeat kid with his own personality that maybe was too individual for the school. I see that he takes after some of our family members that may not have fit into today's world either (what that is for sure, I'm NOT sure!) A lot of it is genetic, no matter what!! My son is not much of a scholar to say the least, but definitely a late bloomer. He is 21 now and living many miles from us, but he is working and has just started college again and I think he is now ready to do the work required. He is certainly very enthusiastic, more so than in the past. So my husband and I were very frustrated with the schools and society in general which has become more and more liberal and drug oriented when it comes to controlling children. I used to not believe in home schooling. Today, I would reconsider as long as I could get help in educating the kids. My advice to you is listen to your heart. Try to be as objective as possible in analizing your own kids. Most kids in my estimation do not need medication. Most kids need better guidelines, appropriate rules and consequences for breaking rules. Appropriate awards for achievement. They need more goals to achieve and less liberal thinking by schools, politicians, etc. They are kids, not puppets on a string. They need lots of love and a warm, loving, stable environment, which of course not everyone has, unfortunately. They need to learn to be independent and make good choices so they will be productive adults. No two kids are the same. It is not easy for everyone. Some do not fit into today's competative society, but there are places for anyone to fit in if they choose to do so. If you can change schools, I would do it. I'm sorry we did not put our kids in a smaller private school from the get go. We had a lot of kids and it would have been so expensive, but it might have well been worth it. Meanwhile, the kids do grow up and hopefully coming from a loving home, they will grow in to good adults. When something good happens, like a newspaper article, about one of my kids, I do email it to the high school. I want them to know that any of their former doom and gloom preconceptions about any of my kids were just not what they would have predicted. Don't let the school ruin your life. I have friends that really had to fight for the rights they felt their kid deserved. It takes a lot of energy, however, to fight the system. Do what you think is right for your child. Be his advocate. To tell you the truth, some of the kids who do not fit into the system grow up to be better adults. I had one kid who fit in to the school...cheerleading and all that stuff. You would think I would be delighted, but I was not. She got into stuff that I did not approve of; I didn't like her friends all that much, and she was influenced by them in a way that interfered with her life as well as mine. She was a better student than all my kids. She is now 23 and did graduate college. She lives on her own, and it has taken that for her to realize how tough it is to make a go of it independently. I finally feel that she is starting to see what it takes to be responsible and mature (although she is not quite there yet!!)
My thoughts will be with you!! PS. sometimes counseling with the right person (outside the school) is worthwhile for you and/or the child.