This is a post long overdue and tonight I am finally sitting down to write out some of the things that have been going on with me and Sir Charles these last few weeks. I’ve known for the last two years that at the end of this school year there would be big decisions to be made. What I did not realize at the time was how it wouldn’t feel like I was making any decisions, but was, instead, being told what I should do with my child by a person who rarely sees him (if at all).
About a month ago, Charlie’s classroom teacher broached the topic of Charlie’s placement for next year. Charlie’s teacher is not the same one he had for the last two years–there was some staff shuffling in August and we got “new teacher” as I’ve now been calling her for seven months. I like New Teacher very much, and my complaints are in no way with her or with the other staff in Charlie’s classroom. They work hard for my boy and I know it.
This topic was broached with me because there are no special ed classes for children in grades 1-3 at our home campus. There are children in inclusion, but nothing for a child that might need to spend more time in the special ed room. While Charlie has proven himself to be pretty adept academically, he also needs to work on many other things like speech therapy, occupational therapy, and so on.
Two years ago I learned that children like Charlie are nearly always sent to a school that I will call “Canterbury Elementary.” When I say children like Charlie, I mean children who don’t go into inclusion–there are several children of varying diagnoses who have been sent from our area to Canterbury.
About a month ago, New Teacher told me that she’d started looking for a place for Charlie to go next year, and after speaking to some administrators, she thought that–you’ll never guess–Canterbury Elementary would be perfect to him. It’s a severe class. These administrators, to the best of my knowledge, have not worked with Charlie personally. They *may* have seen him in the last three years, but I’m not certain of that. This has not, however, prevented them from suggesting that Charlie attend Canterbury even when both the classroom teacher and I raised concerns about how this school would fit in with the rest of his academic career.
I’ve got a ton of reasons why I don’t want Charlie to attend this school, and I’m going to go lazy-style and just list them:
- I don’t think a severe class is where Charlie needs to be. Maybe he’ll get tons of one-on-one attention, but I don’t know that for sure, and my experience with severe classes hasn’t been the best. Cognitively, Charlie is very aware, and I’m just not convinced he’ll blossom when surrounded by children who are cognitively quite behind. I also think that social skills and integration are very important to the disabled and unless Charlie is disruptive, I think he should have plenty of access to regular children and classes. PS: The research backs up my thoughts on this as well. This is, however, sort of a minor complaint compared to the the two other issues, which will make life with four children even more fun (and by fun I mean difficult).
- This elementary school and its corresponding middle school don’t feed into our area’s Junior High and High School. This means that when Charlie hits seventh grade–a vulnerable time for most kids–he’ll be shuffled to a Junior High with a completely different group of kids than the ones he’s been in school with for the previous six years. In Fairy Tale Land I could keep him with his peers by sending him to a different Junior High and High School, but it would be further away from my home and it would be a different school than the one attended by his three brothers.
- The reason they want Charlie to go to this particular Elementary School is because it has spaces available. The reason it has spaces available? Is because public perception is that this school isn’t as good as some of the others. I’d go and check for myself, but I can’t because it would violate student confidentiality. We currently live two blocks from a school with an A rating (this is some sort of state ranking thing that I don’t completely understand). They want to take him to a B school. I know it’s a little nutty, but I feel like I should be offered a school that is comparable to the one we are attending now. I had to pay more for the house by the “good” school–shouldn’t I get the benefit? Lord knows my property taxes are higher as a result.
My husband called Special Ed and asked that they accommodate Charlie at our school (this is laughable because people ask every year and every year they turn them down, but we thought we should at least ask). He was told that we’d have to wait and see what the IEP committee decided about his placement. So, they “decide” where he will attend, but then pretend that they haven’t decided when we call to talk to them about it? Stellar.
Can you see why I’m annoyed? I think I would feel better if I felt like the people in charge were looking out for Charlie more than they were trying to make sure they had evenly distributed children at certain schools.
No telling what the next step is–I have some calls to make.