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Letter From Rose
Subject: My Advice to Parents

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Hi Pete & Pam:

I've been 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.

Over the 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).

Finally, 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."

She sounded 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."

I trusted her. I thought she was interested in building a real "collaborative" relationship with parents.

Earlier, 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 . . . ).

I assured him that I would follow his advice.

I wrote 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.

I'm still kicking myself. I never sent that letter.

Instead, 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.

This was a very stupid move on my part - to think that this letter would "threaten" the district into compliance (for lack of a better term).

WRONG!

After I 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"?).

I started to review what had really changed for my children since I began "collaborating" with the Sped Supv.

NOTHING had changed!

What lessons 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.

Parents 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.

Funny - after I started writing letters, things changed.

My message 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.

Rose

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