at this advocacy business for a while - and I'm still learning. Iím
sending you this letter in hopes that it will help other parents avoid
the mistakes I made.
past year, the situation at school escalated for both of my sons. One
of my sons has PDD, the other has a nonverbal learning disability (NLD).
I reached the point of frustration with my district. I sent two well-written
letters detailing my complaints. I sent these letters certified, return-receipt,
and included a copy to the Superintendent and Special Ed Director. Soon
after this, I received a phone call from the Sped Supervisor. She wanted
us "to meet so we can work things out."
nice and sincere. She seemed to understand my frustration. She suggested
that I call her any time. She even gave me her home phone number so
we could "talk things out."
her. I thought she was interested in building a real "collaborative"
relationship with parents.
I had called our Complaint Officer for guidance about my sonís IEPs.
After I told him the whole story, he said "Send a letter to the Sped
Director and copy me ("MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS" he said . . . along with
a sensible lecture that I don't understand how many parents don't do
this even though he tells them to . . . ).
him that I would follow his advice.
the letter, with a copy to him, as he advised. I thought my conversation
with him was the beginning of a complaint/resolution process. It scared
me a little, but I felt we were right.
kicking myself. I never sent that letter.
I gave a copy of the letter to my new friend, the Sped Supervisor. I
told her that I hadn't decided what I would do with the letter.
a very stupid move on my part - to think that this letter would "threaten"
the district into compliance (for lack of a better term).
rejected the second draft of my sonís IEP, my new friend, the ever-pleasant
Sped Supv, was clearly annoyed with me. She said "No disrespect intended
but you are not a professional. This method was used with MY son and
it was fantastic." (What works for one child must work for all children?
Doesnít this take the "I" out of "IEP"?).
to review what had really changed for my children since I began "collaborating"
with the Sped Supv.
have I learned? First, I was too trusting. In truth, I wanted to avoid
conflict or confrontation. Second, by giving them my complaint letter,
I told them where I was coming from. Now, they had MY evidence. Two
months had passed for my sons during this "collaboration period" and
nothing had changed.
must send letters to set things straight. When you write letters,
people HAVE to listen. People CANNOT interrupt. People CANNOT ignore
you or brush you off. Now, when I write letters, I add that I want them
to respond in writing.
after I started writing letters, things changed.
to parents is this: Don't try to "make friends" with school staff. This
wonít accomplish much for your child or children. And, if things donít
work out, youíll be twice as mad because youíll feel they betrayed you.