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WRIGHTSLAW: CREATIVE SOLUTIONS CONTEST # 1
On Thursday, September 9, 1999 we published an issue of "THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE," our free online newsletter.
We described our new WRIGHTSLAW "CREATIVE SOLUTIONS CONTEST" and said:
Some visitors to our site write about problems with their child's school. Other visitors write about their creative "win-win" solutions to school problems.
To SOLVE school problems, you must learn to think creatively. Don't allow yourself to get bogged down in anger, resentment, helplessness, and other negative emotions. Don't waste your energy debating about the unfairness of the situation.
(We know this is tough but this advice is the essence of our next book, FROM EMOTIONS TO ADVOCACY.)
Wrightslaw is sponsoring a CREATIVE SOLUTIONS CONTEST. Here is how it works:
First, read "The Problem" and if you have a Creative Solution that may help this parent solve her problem, send your Solution to email@example.com/
In the subject line of your email, write CREATIVE SOLUTIONS CONTEST #1
We will publish the winning Creative Solutions on the Wrightslaw site.
After the newsletter went out, we received many different, creative, interesting solutions. We realized that we should not be the only judges to determine which is the "winning Creative Solution." Instead, we decided to publish the Creative Solutions and submit them to you the readers for your votes.
Read the Solutions (below), then send us your vote by noon, September 15, 1999. Please provide the number of the Creative Solution you select as the winner. A number precedes each submission. Please send your vote by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put MY VOTE # (all caps and then the number of your favorite entry) in the Subject Line.
"Georgia Mom" sent us another email which we added below. To refresh your memory, her Problem is also repeated below.
The Problem from Georgia Mom:
Georgia Mom asks "How Can I Get the School District to Transport my Son To School From Home?"
I have a 3 year old son who has cerebral palsy and is autistic. He attends a special needs Pre-Kindergarten program at our local school in Georgia. He is supposed to ride a special ed bus back and forth to school.
The bus driver refuses to pick him up at our house and makes him walk 3/4 of a mile between the house and the main road. The reason they give for refusing to pick him up at home is that we live on a private road so they donít feel it is safe.
Last year, a substitute bus driver drove him home every day for two months. The substitute bus driver is willing to attest to the fact she had no problems at all, even in bad weather.
Most of the time, I donít have a vehicle to drive down the road to get him. I am disabled so it is hard for me to walk down the road to get him. Most of the time, I end up carrying him home because he canít walk that far. Carrying him is making my back problems worse. The doctor says I will need surgery soon because of this.
Our doctor wrote a letter asking the school to transport my son to the house. He explained that the long walk is causing my son to have bad tremors in his extremities. He said my son is having to take medications that should not be needed. Nothing changed. The doctor called the school board but was turned down.
My son is missing school Ė he misses about as much as he goes to school. This does more harm than good.
Are there any laws pertaining to this problem? I think I have exhausted my options through the school district. I donít have money to hire an attorney.
What can I do? Where can I go for help? Do you have any suggestions about how I can handle this problem?
* * *
On Saturday, Georgia Mom wrote to us and added:
Thank you so so much for your help. This is a very troubling problem for me as the situation is getting worse now and all my son does is cry when we leave in the mornings and cries all the way til he gets back home at noon. It is really taking a toll on his health now as well as mine. Thanks for your help.
It means more than you could possibly know.
(Georgia Momís name is Nancy, her email address is Broknangels@aol.com and she is interested in receiving any direct emails and additional suggestions from our readers.)
* * *
The responses to the Creative Solutions Contest follow (each Solution is preceded by a number):
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 15:28:28 EDT
I, too, live on a private street. I have had difficulty with many public agencies (especially the post office) in that regard. What has worked are a couple of things. With the post office, for example, I gave them a letter assuring them that the association that takes care of the private road (i.e. those of us who live on the road) are obligated to make sure that the road is paved, plowed in winter and maintained. I gave them a copy of the "Private Road Association" agreement which is filed on the land records of the town and obligates those of us who live on this road to do this. Perhaps you could have such an association formed (very simple, an attorney could do this in about 2 hours total) and the agreement filed with the land records.
You could also remind the bus company of who DOES drive down your street with no problems. Mail man. Garbage man. UPS truck. Whatever.
You could also petition the town to have your road become a town road. Then the bus HAS to pick up your son. Call the planning and zoning commission or your town clerk to find out how. My understanding is that this is a simple process. If there is someone in your town's political covey who is sympathetic to your plight, this is probably the quickest and easiest solution of all as they can push this right through.
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 15:41:05 -0400
From: "John Willis"
Locate a friend with a video camera. Have the friend tape two minutes of you and your child struggling down your road. Go to your doctor and tape a one-minute plea from the doctor. Then add 45 seconds of the substitute driver cheerfully driving in your road and 45 seconds driving out in bad weather. Tape a one-minute testimonial from the driver that the drive is no problem. Take last year's final report card to a store with a photocopier and enlarge the part that lists absences. If there are any nasty comments about the absences, include those in the enlargement. Film a close-up of the enlargement for 30 seconds while you explain that this shows the child's absences from school last yea, caused by the lack of transportation.
You should now have a six-minute documentary videotape. Make an appointment with the superintendent of schools, explaining you want to meet in a room where you can use a videotape player to show a six-minute tape. When you have the meeting, explain your problem in three calm, polite sentences, show the tape, and give the superintendent copies of the letters from the doctor and the driver and of the whole report card. Then ask the superintendent to schedule you for ten minutes at the next school board meeting with a videotape player available.
John Willis Peterborough, NH
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 12:43:04 -0700
From: "Teresa Champion" <email@example.com>
Hi, Do you have a taxi service or public transit service in your community? Have the school district contract with them to bring your child to school. If a private car can get down your road, then a taxi certainly can. If you have a public transit service, often they have smaller van/busses that pick up senior citizens. This could be contracted to pick up your son and take him to school. Contact the Kiwanis or Lions or other service organizations. This is could be a service that group could take on. If they can't take him all the way to school (I don't know the distance) they can get him to the top of the road for the bus to catch him. Best wishes, Teresa in Oak Harbor, WA
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 13:16:38 -0700
From: Jim Walsh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It appears that some pieces of information were not included in the problem statement. It is not apparent where the problem source resides. Could it be with the Director of Special Education, the District Transportation Manager, or some other group?
One of many steps may be to invite the Special Education Director one afternoon and the Transportation Manager on a different afternoon when the child returns from school to help solve the problem. The parent should state this as a genuine request to obtain help to solve the problem. On each afternoon they would meet the child at the spot the bus stops and make the trek back to the house. It is much easier to find a compatible solution for this type of problem when decision makers can experience the problem. The Director and Manager may have an opportunity to carry the child back to the house. There is something about carrying a child that establishes a bond between two people.
Another method to transport the child may be offered. A motorized chair may be suggested that is either left at the bus stop or transported on the bus. A high school student may be interested in escorting the child on the private road. A bicycle/stroller type device may be used with the help of a high school student.
This is a "soft touch" situation that would benefit
From managers having opportunities to feel good about helping a youngster and a family. Invite their input to develop some suggestions.
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 18:02:27 -0400
From: S Roberts <email@example.com> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 - if you have a taxi service provider in the your area (even if they are a town over from you). call and speak to the owner to see if arrangements can be made for pick up at home/school drop off home/school (AM & PM). get a written price quote from the provider. write a request to the school/board that as an alternative to bus service (they usually pay in a separate line account for 'special transportation services'. perhaps that proposal will be much cheaper for them rather than paying a bus service. this may help convince them to pay for it if the cost is less!! and we all know that a taxi will go on public or private roads. unfortunately, particularly in small towns (same as we have here) their big issue is liability and for some weird reason private roads aren't covered under their liability coverages - go figure when you live in the country??
2 - another idea. place an ad in a local newspaper to see if a parent that drives by the area of your road would be willing to accept a contract through the school to transport your child. they'll get so much per mile. there are still some 'home-bound' moms around here & there.
Some years back, when my child was in a special ed pre school program, the closest place was a town over. we had to drive 20 minutes to/fro in the am/pm. the school reimbursed me for transporting my child. our son's program ended up being split up in 2 towns then in 2 places within our town. that's when we finally got a special bus transport for him thru the school directly.
3 - also better yet - if all else fails, you can check into his medicaid plan or state/county family services program that provide programs for disabled/special needs to see if they have a transportation service that you can get paid for through medicaid. i know they'll reimburse people for even you transporting your child to/fro to doctor appointments. i've never used that resource, but I know we have such a thing in our area. (we live in Alton NH and it's the county agency that we go through for medicaid, respite etc.). the program might be a special medical bureau program - but still comes through medicaid in the long run I believe.
just to add a little other note - the school would not provide our son a separate bus to/from school later on in the higher grades (he's now in 7th). he would have to take the regular bus. we live on a dirt road with few houses. the road is a mile long and has a turn around at our house which sits at the dead end of the road. the regular bus won't go down because of the width of the road (the width of the road is not to todays standards). our son was being left off on a main highway, with cars traveling 55-70. he had to cross the highway and walk alone down the 1 mile to our house. he could not be trusted to do that. he's a wanderer. several times I had to nearly call in a search team. we didn't go to the school over this because my husband felt they would accuse us of NEGLECT. and besides that, that year that we did try the regular bus because we had no other option = my son was constantly beat up by a punk on the bus. they still refused because our son isn't wheelchair bound - he's autistic. we did not want him in that situation so we had to find a sitter 'in town' for a half hr daily until I got out of work and I drove him home. it ended up costing us in the end doing that, but I felt he'd be a lot safer. now Iím able to get out of work at the same time he gets out of school. thank goodness. the school really got off responsibility rather easily.
well, we wish you the best of luck and hope something here helps. god bless. Susan email@example.com
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 18:20:02 -0400
From: "Karen Foster" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not knowing the specifics, or the resources in your area, this is hard, but here are some brainstorming ideas.
1. Call your county road commission and see if you can get the private road made a public road. If you can pull it off, it will undercut their main excuse.
2. Consider contacting the media. One good newspaper article, perhaps with a photo of you carrying your disabled child down the road, could really put the school on the hot seat.
3. If your family is receiving any help from a public assistance agency, see if they have a volunteer program which could help. Our local Family Independence Agency has volunteers who take clients to medical appointments and so on. Even if they couldn't help every day, even once or twice a week would reduce your burden.
4. Pay a reliable older child to tote your kid in a wagon. Lots of middle school aged kids can't get "real jobs" but would love to earn a few bucks a day. I once paid a 12 year old $1 a day to walk my 7 year old from day care to her tutor and back. It was only a few blocks but involved crossing a state highway. She took her "job" so seriously, she even arranged an acceptable substitute when she would be unavailable.
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 15:35:54 -0700
From: "Jamie & Leia Holley" <email@example.com>
Tough question and you are right this is one for the creative thinkers.
One solution may be to ask for an assistive technology evaluation. In order for your child to benefit from school he has to be able to get there, RIGHT. Well this sounds like something that can either creatively fall under assistive technology or the orientation and mobility clause.
Does your child have issues getting around school, i.e. walking long distances? Document this and have his teachers document it. Request an assistive technology evaluation in writing. Specifically you are looking to find something to help your child travel long distances from one class to another and outside to play on the playground. The evaluation can also focus on the needs at home, thus the walk to and from the bus. So he needs a motorized wheelchair or a golf cart to travel the distances. Then I'll bet the school district will decide pay for the bus driver to drive that extra 1/4 mile than have to pay for the Assistive technology device.
Another idea, what about an evaluation to determine the orientation and mobility issues. He has significant mobility issues when it comes to getting on and off the bus. What about around school? He is the school's responsibility until he is home. So if they won't drive him the extra way then they should provide an aide who will help "teach" him "mobility" to your front door from the bus. Again I think the school would rather pay for someone to drive the 1/4 mile vs. pay an extra person to be on the bus and walk him home. The problem is if they do decide to try to "teach" him how to walk to the bus, you will still be responsible to get him to the bus in the morning. Again I believe they would opt to drive him.
If you need legal help does your state have a legal aid office? In Kansas it is called Kansas Advocacy and Protective Services (KAPS). We consulted the attorney there recently concerning an issue with the school district and were able through help from Wrightslaw information and the attorney solve to our issue and meet our sons needs without Due Process.
best of luck your friend in the trenches
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 18:39:30 EDT
My solutions would be sent a copy of this same letter to your local newspaper (letter to the editor section) as well as the state newspaper. I figure it won't be long before something is done. Good Luck.
Bonnie Rice Richmond, VA
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 18:36:58 -0500
From: Becky L Milton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As a fellow Georgian and a mother of a child with disabilities in special education for 10 years, below are my suggestions:
1. Write a letter to the Director of special ed indicating you will no longer be able to walk your son to and from the bus stop.
2. Attach a letter from your personal Doctor indicating your own disability and your upcoming surgery due to carrying your son.
3. Attach the letter from your son's Doctor indicating the trauma this has created for your son.
4. CC: Copies to Paulette Bragg, Executive Director, Special Education for the State of Georgia.
5. CC: Copies to Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia, Att: Vickie Hansworth
6. CC: Copies to Superintendent of the County in which you live.
7. CC: Copies to Parents Educating Parents, Att: Linda Shepherd, Executive Director (indicate my name for the referral)
8. Also, indicate in your letter that you expect a written response from the director of special ed within 10 days.
9. Finally, keep your letter brief and to the point. Do not go into personal feelings.
Note: You may contact me directly at email@example.com and I can help you draft the letter if necessary.
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 20:41:22 -0400
I actually don't have a creative solution yet. I am an attorney in Atlanta, and the mother of twins with Asperger Syndrome. I do not know where the mother in your problem lives, but if she is in north Georgia, perhaps I can help her. Please feel free to give her my e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Carol L. Wilkerson
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 20:52:45 -0500
From: "Janet D. Fortus" <email@example.com>
Try calling the hotline for school truancy or for educational neglect. Since it is due to the district's negligence that he is truant they should go to bat for you.
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 21:57:53 -0400
From: "HOLLY GLEASON" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Get the local media involved - have the newspaper do a human interest story on you and your family. Have them mention/highlight the hardship the school district's transportation policy causes. Maybe the publicity will "shame" the school district into reconsidering.
I suggest this because several years ago, a local parent wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, complaining that the school superintendent was not providing his daughter with a proper education to meet her documented special needs. His letter exerted LOTS of pressure on the school superintendent. No one likes to see their name in the press for the wrong reasons!
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 22:48:00 -0400
From: "Ray E. Martin" <email@example.com>
Problem: How to have son picked up by school bus on a road that is designated a private?
Option #1: File for file motion that to be considered public via small claims or state DOT.
This option removes that school's reason for failing to use road.
Option#2: Hire private nurse/attendee to move son to and from home to school bus stop, then send bill to school for reimbursement.
Providing transportation to and from special needs services is clearly spelled out in IDEA, by failing to provide transportation, school LEA is failing to implement child's IEP and thus failing to provide access via 504/ADA. Using recent school to pay for nurse case, what every services are needed to allow to successfully participate in their IEP, must be made for by the school.
Option#3: File Due Process for filing to implement IEP, failing to provide transportation services and support services for child.
Option#4: File formal grievance/compliant with state educational authority, for failing to implement IEP, i.e. - providing the transportation to/from services.
Option#5: Elected Home bound services - then ask for least restrictive environment, i.e. - child school; LEA would have to defend position of not have child at school.
Ray E. Martin
* * *
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 1999 22:11:44 -0500
From: "Della Nagle" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Under the federal 504 legislation, the school should be mandated to provide whatever it takes to give your child an education. When my daughter had an abnormal chest problem and had to catch a bus to a magnet high school that met at the local elementary school, the school provided her a bus to the door until her surgery that corrected the problem. They also provided two sets of books so that she didn't have to carry them back and forth. Check with the special ed advocate at the district. If that doesn't get you anywhere call an attorney and sue them in federal court.
* * *
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 23:52:36 EDT
1 You and your child have rights!!!! Get in touch with the Office of Civil Rights.
2 Report the schools noncompliance to pick your son up from home.
3 Save all Doctors letters.
4 Just maybe a Lawyer would take your case Pro-Bono
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 01:55:02 EDT
I solved a similar problem for a child with VCFS by taking a video of the child walking the drive to the bus pick-up point. I showed it to the IEP team and reserved a time slot for "Comments" at the school board meeting where I could show the tape. I never had to show it to anyone. Just the suggestion caused the district to pick up the child at her door.
Public exposure is as potent as the law. We need to tell the public what is really happening to these children who are the least able to advocate for themselves.
Connie Sabin, RNP, JD Special Education Advocate Penngrove, California
ConSab@aol.com (707)664-8636 (phone and FAX)
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 04:24:59 -0700
From: "cwfreak" <email@example.com>
In California, there are Regional Centers that provide service to parents of special need kids. I'm not sure about other states. If there is such an agency in your state possibly they may help by providing am electric "golf cart" that the parents could use for the short 3/4 mile trip. Or, maybe the school district would do the same.
Joe Nardo, Director of Pupil Services
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 08:32:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: DoxaDoxa@webtv.net (Nancy S)
I don't know all the details about the cerebral palsy child, but would it be possible for the doctor to prescribe a wheelchair to minimize the tremors instead of medicine? Especially if the tremors are exacerbated by the long walk from where the bus drops the child off.
If the child was to be in a wheel chair and the doctor recommended that the school pick him up at his doorstep for this reason, it would seem that the school would be hard pressed to turn them down. The logic would be that a 3 year old would have great difficulty wheeling himself to the bus stop in his wheelchair. And, if the Mom is straining her back to carry him, until things got resolved it would also minimize her strain.
To a 3 year old child a wheel chair might be considered "fun," unless because of the autism the change might be difficult.
Is the child receiving medicare/medicaid where he could receive an OT eval with a specialist in sensory integration? I don't know where they live, but there are several good ones here in the Atlanta area.
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 07:48:47 -0500
From: "Williams, Robert" <Robert.Williams@Wichita.BOEING.com>
Dear Georgia Mom,
I have an eight year old son with Asperger's Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder), Epilepsy, Dyslexia, and ADHD. Every year is something new and challenging, but we always seem to handle it.
First, and foremost, I would ask you to sit down, and relax. Pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. OK, now congratulate yourself, because you nor any member of your fine family has done anything wrong. Now, before we start, pull yourself away from the issue at hand, look beyond it, over it, and above it, and tell me what you see. That's Right! Your son, very good. You see your son because YOU and only YOU are your son's greatest advocate.
The answer to your question, "Are there any laws pertaining to this problem?" is a simple one. Yes Ma'am there are, and lots of them. "What can I do?" well, this is why I said to congratulate yourself. By requesting help and knowledge on an unfamiliar subject through Wrightslaw, you (your son's greatest advocate) are taking the right step to bettering your son's future, and your peace of mind.
As I said before, there are lots of laws that pertain to your issue at hand, and Wrightslaw sells a book which pertains to all of them. It is available on their web site for a nominal fee, and includes commentary of explanation by Pete himself. They also have lots of valuable information on their web site and a Newsletter that you can get. These laws entitle your son to receive mandatory services from your school district and state. The laws I am talking about are mainly the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, commonly referred to as the IDEA Act, coupled with your state's Board of Education regulations. I will say that these entitlements are not privileges, their entitlements guaranteed by the law and if your school or state cannot provide the service to your son then their supposed to use funding they receive to contract out for that service.
Now, to start I would have you do some things. First, write a letter to the Principal of your school requesting an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. Write this letter as if you were writing to your mom, keep it nice and clean. Second, start learning, and gathering all the information that you can about your son, the IDEA Act, and IEP meetings. The best source of information that you could use would be to go to the Wrightslaw web site and get a copy of their "Summer To Do List" and begin doing everything that list states to do to get you started. Please, do not let all this information you'll be getting bog you down. Yes, it is a big elephant of information and projects you are facing, but if you only eat a little piece of the elephant at a time, then pretty soon the whole elephant will be gone.
Before going to your IEP meeting, learn as much as you can from as many resources that you join or visit after reading Wrightslaw's Summer To Do List. Many of the resources put out a Newsletter, and other material that you can use. Also, there are many advocating resources in your state and community waiting by their phone for your call for help. Such as, Families Together, Rainbows United (a United Way), and many more. Many can be found in your phone book at home, on-line, or just call information on your phone and tell them your situation, and they will give you a phone number to a resource that may be able to help you, or one that can refer to a resource that can. Also, your school is required to furnish you upon request, copies of your son's file, and Parental Rights in Special Education which explains due process procedures. The due process explains how you should proceed should the IEP meeting fail to give you what your son is entitled to by the IDEA Act. Some resources may even advocate for you, or at least attend your IEP meeting with you in an advisory status.
I will tell you, that after you start these things you are still not done; however, at least you are on your way down the right road to securing a better future for your son, and becoming a more powerful advocate as well with more people on your side.
In closing I would just say, "God Bless, and YOU GO GIRL."
PS A mentor of mine once said, "Never go to a knife fight without a knife, and never go to a gun fight without a gun." I would say to you, never advocate for your son without knowing what is rightfully yours and due to your son.
Rob Williams Jr.
Technical Writer Commercial/Military Derivative Aircraft Wichita, KS
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 08:59:56 -0400
From: "Margaret Vadala" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is obvious this parent needs an advocate and an attorney. By going to www.autism-pdd.net and clicking "states" then choosing "Georgia" I went to the link for advocacy and got these resources. Call all of these people, send them copies of the letter submitted to WrightsLaw....the school MUST pick him up at the house as this is affecting his health, thus interfering with his education, if he NEEDS it they must provide it!! Here is the list of resources:
COUNCIL ON DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES FOR GEORGIA
Eric Jacobson, Director Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities 2 Peachtree Street, N.W., 3rd Floor, Suite 3-210 Atlanta, GA 30303-3142 (404) 657-2126; (888) 275-4233 E-mail: email@example.com URL: http://www.ga-ddcouncil.org
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY AGENCY
Joyce Ringer, Executive Director Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc. 999 Peachtree Street, N.E., Suite 870 Atlanta, GA 30309 (404) 885-1234; (800) 537-2329 (in GA only)
CLIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Charles L. Martin, Director Client Assistance Program 123 North McDonough Street Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 373-2040; (800) 822-9727 (in GA only)
Once this is done & you have an advocate/attorney, you need to write and call the school, cc"ing the Superintendent, Board of Ed President, CPSE chairperson, & School Principal. State that you are demanding an emergency IEP and if they choose to ignore your requests again that you will invoke your due process rights & will also contact Local Newspapers, and TV/ radio Stations and will tell them how this school district ignores the needs of their children with disabilities.
* * *
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 10:06:12 -0400
From: "Bette R. Jones" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To the Mom that thinks she has explored all the solutions for getting her child from the bus to home (3/4 miles):
First of all, you must not give up. If you have not had success with the current methods, there are hundreds of other ways to get what you need for you and your child. You have heard the old saying: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
Next, define the problem. Many times in solving a problem this is the most critical step. Is the problem that you don't have a vehicle to pick your son up from the bus stop? Is the problem that the bus can not travel on a private (and sometimes not well maintained) road because if they did that for your son they would have to do it for every child? Is the problem that you feel intimidated by the power of the establishment that runs the bus system for the school and as a result you have not worked up the chain of command to the top? Some of these questions seem to me to be way off the mark. It seems to me that the problem here is simply getting the child from the bus stop to home safely and within the limits of exercise that he and you can tolerate and benefit from.
Having the problem defined, then there are several solutions that would work. One solution would be for the bus to transport your child to your door. That would be ideal, however it seems to me that is the only solution you have explored.
One solution would be a wagon that you could pull. If this exercise would not create problems for you it might even be helpful.
Another solution would be for you to have a used (or new) golf cart that you can use to go and get him from the bus stop. You might look for a used cart at golf clubs. If you can afford to purchase a cart, then pick out one that has a relatively new battery that can be easily recharged.
If you can not afford to purchase a cart, then there are several solutions to this problem. If you are on medicaid have your Doctor write a letter to the medicaid people stating that you have a medical need for a cart.
If that is not possible, then ask for help. Within your community or county there are organizations that help people in need. These service organizations have contacts through out the community and often can find help for someone even if the problem is outside the normal agenda for the organization. I would start with county governmental organizations such as the health department. It is their responsibility to provide help for people that are in need. Tax payers gladly pay for this service because ignoring needs means having to pay out much more in the long run to fix problems that could have been much more easily solved earlier.
If that doesn't work, then there are private organizations that work with the disabled. Easter Seals and other local organizations such as Lions (for eye exams, glasses, and hearing aids), the Moose, Kiwanis, the Woman's Clubs, etc.
How you ask for this help is important. When you write a letter or make a phone call, know exactly what you want to say. Describe your problem in as few words as possible. Note that I said describe, not tell. Do not say I need to get my child from the bus to my house. That is telling, not describing, and focuses on you not the child.
Do say, my child, age 3, has to walk 3/4 mile from the bus stop to our home each day. This walk is creating tremors because he has cerebral palsy and is autistic. I am disabled and can not continue to carry him home. I need a little red wagon, or a used or new golf cart so that he doesn't have to walk all the way.
When you can present your needs in a clear and concise manner, with a clear focus on the needs of your child that you can not solve, then there is help in nearly all communities.
As a last resort, write a short clearly written letter to the newspaper.
These steps (define the problem, explore solutions that would solve the problem, and communicate with people that have the power to help you solve your problem,) are applicable to any problem. In todays world nearly all problems can be solved this way. Happy Problem Solving, Bette Jones
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 07:43:26 -0700
From: "Bruce and Becky Green" <email@example.com>
This mother's situation is heartbreaking. I suggest she bypass the school district and appeal to some of the many organizations such as Rotary or Kiwanis. These community service oriented clubs may have funds available to buy her a golf cart or offer to spearhead a fundraiser for that purpose.
Thank you, Rebecca Green
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 12:07:27 EDT
I had a similar problem when my son (not special education) broke his leg and was casted and on crutches. His "assigned" bus stop was about 1/8 mile from home on a very narrow road. The school refused to have the bus stop for him in front of our house, even though the bus drove right by the house for bus stops further down our street. Rather than deal with the school, I called the Board of Education's Legal Department, advised them of the situation and further advised that should my son fall with his crutches & cast, get hit by a car as a result of his awkwardness on crutches, etc. I would hold the Board of Education entirely responsible for injuries and/or delay in healing. The Board of Education immediately ordered the school bus to stop for my son at our own driveway. Our driveway remained his "assigned" bus stop from then on, even after the healing of his broken leg.
Perhaps this inquirer might call his/her Board of Education's Legal Department and advise of the health impairments and inconveniences with the request that they look for the best interests for all in the event of any unfortunate event or medical problem exacerbated (to either child or parent) by their thus-far refusal to pick the child up in front of his own house not in a demanding sort of way, but to establish potential future problems that might be avoided.
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 12:38:02 -0500
First, you need to contact your state Protection and Advocacy. They have advocates at no charge that can represent you at an IEP meeting. After you have them about your situation, call the school and request that an IEP meeting ASAP. Your problem should be resolved.
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 19:56:41 -0400
From: Proulx <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Door to Door" transportation is written in IDEA 97. If the bus cannot get down the road, they are required to hire a small transportation company or a cab. Request an IEPC, and add "door to Door" transportation with aide to the line on the IEPC.
Our district is far from our 4-year-old child's school (Almost 2 hours each way via bus, 25 minutes directly). The district was unable to change the pickup time, so they are reimbursing us for travel and we have hired a driver. This is also an option.
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 17:41:31 -0700
From: "~ Tinkerbell" <email@example.com>
My suggestion is a contact whom I've met electronically through my work in the field of family violence. His resume includes:
"I founded CAVNET as a nonprofit corporation over a year ago, and operate it in my private capacity. I am a trial attorney in Washington, D.C., in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where I enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act."
The web address for CAVNET (California Victims' Network) is www.asksam.com/cavnet. Marc has helped many people and he might be just the ticket. I will let him know that he might be getting a call.
Always be sure to walk a mile in someone's shoes before you criticize them. That way you will be far away from them, and you will still have their shoes. (Courtesy of my 12 year old son, Anthony)
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Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 20:16:44 -0700
From: kmessler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
2. Buy a golf cart to ride down to the street.
3. Pull your child in a wagon (unfortunately this means you still have to walk.)
4. Appeal to the school board/superintendent/special ed. director.
5. Take the school to a fair hearing.
6. Try to get others involved (newspaper, local news, civic groups)... perhaps they can raise money needed to assist you.
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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 04:20:58 EDT
Georgia Mom asks "How Can I Get the School District to Transport my Son To School from Home?"
This sounds like a problem your community might help you solve. You would probably want to revise your well-written story just a bit so that the school district comes across as truly unable to assist your family and your son. Get a list of churches and any places of worship in your area, as well as editor's names for any mainstream parenting newspapers (usually monthlies). Write a sincere request for help in getting your son from home to the bus stop and from the bus stop to home every day. Ask for volunteers to assist him in that travel. I have made some changes in the story below so that it can be a letter.
I would hope that this letter would touch the heart of any minister or parent. In the best case, they would be in contact with school board members or administrators in their congregations who might feel more open to solving the problem, especially as you have not expressed any frustration or animosity toward the district. Failing that, you might meet some people who *would* be there for that long walk, who would establish a relationship with your son that will be valuable for his entire life, a circle of friends brought together for a specific purpose who would be there at the next crisis, too.
Wishing you all the best,
Pam W SE of Seattle
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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 15:51:20 -0400
From: "sfmj2" <email@example.com>
The first thing I would do is to request in writing that YOU are allowed to speak at the next school board meeting. At that time, I would have all of the Dr. letters with you and present them to each of the board members. I don't think it would hurt to have your son with you, if that is at all possible. You might generate some sympathy from them. If that doesn't work, I would write a letter to the local newspaper, and let them know what the school district is doing, or in this case, what they aren't doing. Then, the final measure, I would call the local TV station, and see if they would be willing to do a story on you and your son. I am sure you can generate enough sympathy from the local townspeople, and the school board will have no choice but to have the driver drive down your road. Also, at the board meeting, I would have the substitute driver come and talk, and if that isn't possible, have a letter written from her. I wish you good luck.
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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 23:07:17 -0500
From: "Lu Ann" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As the parent, I would request in writing the district's policy for not traveling privates roads. I would also ask for a statement in writing on what the District thinks that makes the private road unsafe to travel. It sounds like they are leaving the decision of safety up to the driver. I could understand this in the case of real bad weather, but not as a general policy. I would recommend several option's. Some of which follow: First and foremost; It is probably not safe for your child to be walking to the main road, especially with your challenges and his. His safety should be the Districts first concern.
1) Part of the requirement to provide Free and Appropriate Public Education is to provide related services. Related Services include many things, one of which is transportation and special transportation, if needed. In order for your child to benefit from his academic program, in a Least Restrictive Environment, he must get to school. If that requires door to door services, it must be provided. The district could contract with a non-emergency medical transport services (if available).
2) Ask the district to try to obtain a small bus that would steer easier and not be as heavy as a large bus.
3) Write your school board members letters and send them each a copy and ask for individual responses. Include with the letter, a memo about where than can research what their responsibility is as board members. Also include copy of letter from his doctor. You could also include a statement from you or your Doctor about your physical health. Let them know that you are making them aware that this could be doing further damage to you and is not safe for your child.
4) Another suggestion might be to have the district send someone to the home in a car, (i.e. aide, paraprofessional, teacher or consider hiring the substitute driver back).
5) If and when your child has to stay home because of lack of transportation to the door, document the incident and send a copy to the district each day he misses. These should state that he is unable to come to school because of the lack of "appropriate transportation" for your childís unique needs.
6) Call an emergency IEP meeting and ask an advocate to go with you. You can find out the names of advocates from people at agencies that you may be involved with. Also your state should have an agency that has funds to provide parent training and possibly advocacy. Also, try Protection and Advocacy in your state. If your child receives services from a mental health agency, ask a caseworker to help you try to get something in place.
7) You may also ask for assistance from someone in your states child welfare agency to assist you in getting something in place for transportation. If the district is not providing transportation to your child so he can benefit from his educational program, it could be considered Educational neglect. Take your doctors note with you.
8) Contact your state Education Department for the Special Education Division and ask to speak to the person who monitors your district. File a child complaint if you have to and ask if it can be reviewed in an expedited fashion. Because the fact that your child is missing a large number of days means that they are doing damage to him buy not having a consistent program.
9) The true fact is that they may just not want to deal with your child who requires a great deal of care. So if they don't pick him up, they don't have to deal with him.
10) Let them know that there is extra funding available for exceptional pupil needs and extraordinary cost funds.
11) You may not have taxi cabs available, but many areas that do, provide door to door by way of contracting with a transportation service.
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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 09:14:13 EDT
The medical needs of this family are not being met. I feel for their situation.
The mother needs to write the school requesting a written explanation as to why (specifically) the bus won't pick up her son at her house. She then expects to receive a letter explaining that the school feels the road is not safe. Hopefully, it will also state specifically in what way it is not safe.
If not, then she should write back asking in what specific way is the road not safe. More specifics are needed. Perhaps, all of this is about just needing to fill a hole in the road.
If this doesn't clarify and fix the problem. She may need a road safety inspector to inspect & write to the school that the road is safe. She can call her city highways administration for the number of a private street inspector. This may be her last hope (and expense) to prove that this private road is safe.
If this still doesn't work. She can file an appeal (no cost) & subpoena the inspector as a witness. I don't see how she could lose.
END OF CREATIVE SOLUTIONS
Let us know your vote by noon, September 15, 1999. Please provide the number of the solution you pick as the winner. A number precedes each submission. Please send your email to email@example.com and put MY VOTE # (all caps and then the number of your favorite entry) in the Subject Line.
If you would like to send an email direct to Georgia Mom, her name is Nancy and her email address is Broknangels@aol.com .
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