IEP Step One: Notice

I made a big ole deal on this blog about how I think it’s better to work with the system as opposed to against it.  I think I’m gonna stop writing stuff like that. Hand to God, it’s like the Universe is getting my RSS feed.  It reads one of my optimistic posts and promptly sends over a big pile of crap.

Seriously, Universe, it’s time to unsubscribe.

Tuesday I got a call from Charlie’s future teacher telling me that his IEP was scheduled for Friday.  For those who don’t know, IEPs are a big, big deal. It’s basically a huge meeting where all the people who will be involved in Charlie’s education get together and try to figure out what he’s going to need to be successful.  When you’ve got a kid as complicated as Charlie, it’s a bit of a production.  Just a bit.

So when I got the call, I knew it was important that I be there.  I also knew that I was going to be out of town from Friday morning until Monday evening, so there was no way a Friday appointment would work. 

I explained my situation.  I tried honey. I did. I begged her to just have it on Wednesday. She was having none of it.  School’s last day was Monday and that was the last day she’d be showing up to work. 

At this point I could feel my attitude beginning to bubble forth.  I don’t have a degree in special ed, but I taught it for two years and learned a couple of things along the way.  Things like IEP notices should be in writing.  Things like you need ten days notice before having an IEP.  Pesky little details like that.

I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this woman, so I went ahead and told her to make the thing for Friday and I hung up. 

wheelchair 031

I then did what any smart, confident, forceful woman does when faced with an  obstacle—I cried.  Yes, I cried, but then I picked up the phone and called Charlie’s case manager.  I was still a little weepy, but I explained that the situation was unacceptable, that I’d been given no options, and that I was well aware that our rights were being violated.

Thirty minutes later I got a call from the transition coordinator who gave me the option of having the IEP done with the summer school staff the first week of June.

Ding. Ding. Ding. 

Got what I wanted. 

I wish I had grace under pressure.  I wish I wasn’t a big wuss who cries like a seven-year-old.  But those things don’t matter as much as getting Charlie what he needs.  


wheelchair 035

Pictures of Charlie in his new ride. Seems to like the new perspective.  Less thrilled about the shoulder straps.

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  1. TherExtras says:

    Love seeing him smile! You know what to do with extra tie-downs that do not thrill.

  2. Oh NO she didn't! As I was reading this post I had steam coming out of my ears! Then I got to the part that you know your rights and know that what she said was a total violation of the LAW and your RIGHTS! Whew.

    So, okay, great that it worked out in the end. BUT…I still think you should put together a well thought out letter informing the powers that be about the way you were initially treated, and let them know that you are aware it is a violation of your parental safeguards. Maybe you could help some poor mother down the road who doesn't know such things… Gah!

    But I do see where you were coming from and I DO cry after IEPs whenever anyone is the least bit oppositional. It is extremely stressful.

    By the way…that pic of Charlie with the puzzles is one of my all time favorites:-)

  3. Dude, that new wheelchair of Charlie's is friggin' sweet. It's safe to say it's nicer than my car. He really is riding in style.

    So the situation sucked–but I'm cheered by the fact that you not only knew how to handle it, but also knew how to change it. Not that my being cheered is your goal or anything. But it's awesome that Charlie has you in his corner.

  4. Candace says:

    Poor girl! I have heard all kinds of stories like this. I hate it…BUT I am thrilled that you had the sense to get around the problem. It's ok, Katy, I have had crying FITS over stuff like this, in public! LOL! A few weeks ago I lost it in the pharmacy drive thru and after 50 minutes of waiting for their screw up I snapped at the girl "If you had just done it right when I called it in, we wouldn't be here! English is a pretty common language!" and burned rubber out of the drive thru! LOL! I LOVE Charlie's new wheels, BTW. Very cool! Faith hates her straps on her wheels, so we just leave them off. I hope he adjusts to the new thing quickly.

  5. The Henrys says:

    I hate to say this, but it is only the beginning.

    All IEPs have to be at a "mutually agreed upon time and place". They can not tell you when and give you no options.

    Good luck and I can't wait to hear what happened!

  6. Oh man. Can't tell you how many times I cried like a big fat baby.

    I would have called and complained too. Squeaky wheel and all. I squeak a lot. Sometimes the squeaks sound a little like swears.

  7. AmyLynn says:

    It's so thrilling to hear that you stood up for your rights! That Procedural Safeguards booklet they hand out spells it all out, but I do wonder how many parents (and therapists!) actually read it well enough to know what it says.

    My two cents? Yay to you for having a good cry over such a frustrating situation and then picking yourself up by your bootstraps and calling this teacher on it! I agree with whomever said that what you did was best for Charlie but also best for the next parent to be in this teacher's classroom who doesn't know any better.

    Roar girl…we hear it!

  8. JennieB says:

    You go mama! Of course you're going to cry – this is tough. But you also did what you needed to do.

    What a cutie you have!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Way.TO.GO!!!!! I am glad you are letting them know from the get-go that you are not going to be a push over. Here are two peices of advice that will help to put a little intimidation into your IEP group……Make sure you have your State,school district policies with you. I would also have at least one book on planning IEP's and if you can get it quickly, Wright's Law's "Special Ed Law" book.

    You don't have to have read these (although it helps) BUT bend up the covers a little, like they have been studied. Get some of those post-it flags and put them through out the books, marking your places. Set them on the table when you walk in, with a notebook & pen (preferably with notes about what you would like to see done). The fact that you have all of these things and it looks like you have almost memorized those books will scare the crap out of them…:P

    I know you don't LIKE to be that way, but they don't hesitate to use intimidation to get their way.

    The other thing I have found that works really well is to bring a tape recorder. At the beginning of the meeting, just casually sneak in the conversation, "Is is ok if I tape this since I can't really concentrate on what you are saying AND take good notes at the same time? I will give you a copy after I sign the IEP if you want." They are usually so flustered that you want to tape the IEP meeting, they agree. Most policies are not specific as to whether you can or can't. You just have to ask permission. Make sure you tape asking for permission – if nobody speaks up it is OK. Then you have it on tape that nobody objected if you ever have to use the taped IEP meeting for further proceedings.

    Good luck!

    Steph and Christopher

  10. You had me in stitches to start with. Seriously, the universe needs to unsubscribe to my blog too. Thats why i don't write so much anymore – whenever i do, I get a great big fist of cr*p coming back at me. I was wondering if thats how my mild child turned into severe.

    As for the IEP – you go girl! I cry at everything too. I'm a big wuss. I hate how everything is so hard (we got two days notice for a school physio assessment that I can't attend this week). But at least you picked yourself up and got the job done. Great going.

    Thanks for making me feel like I'm not so alone on this trip.

  11. Kristin says:

    i cry after iep meetings even if no one is oppositional. i think they are so overwhelming

    cool new ride

  12. Congratulations on the new chair, Charlie! He looks absolutely great in it, fantastic posture and SO grown up.

    I give it 6 months max before he's ready for a powerchair – he's supporting his head brilliantly, he follows directions, has good understanding of cause and effect and ample control of enough bits of him to use a joystick or directional switches (note – it doesn't necessarily need to be hands, loads of people drive powerchairs with feet, chin, elbows, head switches, knee switches…)

    Well done about the IEP. I wish all disabled kids had such a powerful advocate.

  13. Sometimes I think that having been a teacher in my previous life is like a double edged sword for me…but this time, my friend, it was to your benefit. Good job!

  14. Baylee and Blair's page says:

    Girl… I cried so many times on the phone with people about Baylee and Blair's care/appts/surgeries it's not even funny! It's what happens when we get really frustrated!

    LOVE the pics… SO cute!

    Hugs – Tiff

  15. Seriously? Giving you a couple days notice about an IEP? We've had ours scheduled for about a month. That seriously made me mad that they'd treat you like that. You are, in fact, the most valuable member of Charlie's team – perhaps they should have asked you what worked for you?! Wow. Glad you got it worked out. And for the record, I cry like a 7-year-old too. 😉 Oh, our IEP is today. I'm a little nervous. Send us positive thoughts!

  16. You know what? It's okay to cry! I am a total crier and sometimes the best thing to do is cry, get it out of your system, then keep on going. All in all you did a great job for standing up for Charlie and you should be really proud of yourself. Also, I love the yellow wheelchair. So cool!

  17. You are not a wuss. You made things happen for someone who could not help themselves. I am a stay at home Dad. You would be amazed at the results when one of us gets weepy. Great job God bless, and peace my friend.

  18. Wahzat Gayle says:

    some days I cry with you! Happy that you got it postponed though!
    Sigh why does it have to be sooooo hard.

  19. sitting on the mood swing at the playground says:

    Good for you! I can't believe a date was told to you rather than agreeing upon time/date that works. the photos are great.

  20. Miss Burb says:

    are those laws state or federal? just curious because we'll be starting the process soon (Friday is our IEP meeting)

    I would have cried too. that's just how I am :)

    I would just DREAD having to deal with that teacher, too.

    and I really don't understand how these IEP meetings can be set up so far in advance! I mean, I know my son doesn't develop along the same timeline like everyone else but things change with us from month to month, let alone a whole summer.

  21. A good crying hissy fit does a body good sometimes, and helps get stuff too.

  22. GingerB says:

    I want to send you an e-hug, Katy. It is OK be a mother first and a mama bear second sometimes. And for hell's sake, I cry at therapy sessions, even though I am a friggin' litigator by training and you know I will cry at an IEP. Now you'll have time to prepare now to lead that meeting and kick some collective butt, if they don't just bend to your will. Some awesome ideas in the comments here, by the way.

  23. Wherever HE Leads We'll Go says:

    Love the new ride! That smile is the best!

    As for the phone call and the IEP process. I definitely would have done the same thing – cried like a baby – and then pulled it together to do something about it. We will be in this process in August and I dread it with every fiber of my being. I am not good with confrontation.

    Hoping the rest of the process goes MUCH smoother!