A Guidance Counselor ignored our parental consent form and conducted some tests on our daughter against our written instructions, even though she also signed the form acknowledging our concern. Our parental control was totally ignored.
This guidance counselor is listed as an IEP Team member, but my wife and I can not trust her anymore. Can we demand she be excluded from the IEP Team?
You can demand, but if you do, you set yourself up for a big fall – and you are likely to be labeled as unstable. Parents need to request the services their children need and attempt to keep things unemotional and businesslike.
When parents demand, they ensure that the school will fight forever to keep from giving in to parental demands.
Your goal is to:
- get what your child needs as painlessly as possible and
- protect parent-school relationships.
In some circumstances, this requires a great deal of self discipline – more than some people possess. At that point, you need to get assistance from an educational advocate or advice from an attorney who specializes in this area of law.
IEP team members tend to play different roles- the pitbull and bully, the know it all, the conflict-avoider, wet blankets, snipers, etc. We discuss “dealing with difficult people” in our book From Emotions to Advocacy. These dynamics play out in most organizations.
Parental demeanor needs to be a blend of Miss Manners (polite) and Peter Columbo (“I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you can’t do X,Y, Z to help my child?”). Parents also need to document problems and their attempts to resolve problems in polite letters that will become part of the child’s file that can be used later, if necessary. Be sure to keep a copy for your own records.
If you learn that you cannot trust someone – that’s important information to have. To paraphrase Sun-tzu, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.”
Write a Polite Letter
You may want to write a short polite letter expressing your concern and distress when you learned that the guidance counselor ignored your wishes, as expressed in writing on the parental consent form, and tested your child after you made it clear that you did not want these tests performed. These actions are more concerning because the guidance counselor signed the form acknowledging your wishes. You were under the impression that the school wanted to work cooperatively with parents, not make unilateral decisions against the parent’s expressed wishes provided in writing, that you are requesting their assurances that school personnel will never do this again. (Note: They will not do this because to do so would be to acknowledge that they did something wrong. You are just making your point.)
If you did this, you would have to do some research to decide who to send the letter to – who has power in your school district – principal, superintendent, school board member. The letter may elicit a reprimand that you will never know about. The letter will probably remain in the guidance counselor’s file forever and may make him/her more cautious in the future.
You’ve just learned an important lesson – that many school people think they know what’s best for all children and that parents can and should be ignored because they are overly emotional, ignorant, etc.