Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One for Team J-Man



I know you have been waiting.

You have been wondering.

What happened?

Did we get what we asked for?

So let me take you back to last week, Meeting Day. Head Honcho leaves with promises to "look into" what they could do and if they could "work out" an exception, and to get back to me as soon as possible. And she did. The next morning I received a call from Head Honcho, and it goes something like this (note liberal use of paraphrasing):


HH: Good morning. I wanted to let you know that I have looked into the issue of getting J-man summer service at his child care....

Me: Yes?? (note hopeful sound in voice)

HH: ... and I consulted with Advocacy Agency and two other school districts and they all said that summer sessions are not required to provide those services, so we will not be making any accomidations in the plan that we can provide. We can offer your son ESY in a special needs classroom.

Dead silence on my end.

The Green-Eyed Monster Momma woke up, stretched and muttered "What the *%$....?!?"

HH: ... I know this isn't what you wanted, but it is what we are willing to provide...

GEMM: So, what you are saying is that you just called Advocacy Agency and they said you don't have to do it? And you aren't going to try to help us ...?

HH: Well, yes... you may call Suzy Advocate and talk to her yourself. Her number is .....

GEMM: Yes, I will call her and get back to you. (note cold tone of rage in voice)

So, GEMM calls Suzy Advocate. After an hour of discussion (or arguing... whatever) with Ms. Advocate, she has basically told us this: Because the Extended School Year Rule does not address Least Restrictive Environments, they don't have to comply.

What?!?!

Basically, the argument is that the rule doesn't talk about it, so they don't have to do it?

To me and GEMM, that is complete BS.

I called the Department of Education and talked to the specialist there. I explained the situation, and my confusion about why they would say that they did not have to comply with IDEA/LRE in the summer. She laughed. I asked her if she could provide me with something that explains it. She said "Well, the reason you can't find anything is because there isn't anything! That is not true, and if I was you I would request a mediation meeting" (fancy talk for a sit down with the Department of Ed and hash it out... not to be confused with a Due Process meeting, which is bigger and scarier).

'Nuff said.

A little research later (and lots of Law reading), we wrote a Letter. Allow me to dazzle you with just the highlights:

J-man qualifies for ESY via the "Self Sufficiency requirement. Specifically, J-man needs to maintain skills regarding his IEP goals for social development and communication as reflected in Minnesota Administrative Rule 3523.0755 Subpart 2 D 6 'development of stable relationships with peers and adults" and 7 "basic communication".

ESY is able to comply with IDEA 2004 requirements for Least Restrictive Environments. J-man's educational setting does continue into the summer. Additionally, Minnesota Rule 3525.2335 governing Early Childhood Program Services, Alternatives and Settings states in Subpart 2 B 3 that "A school district must provide direct and indirect special education services by district special education staff attending a community based program". There is no stated waiver or exception for ESY services noted in this or any other rules. Additionally, nowhere in the ESY Rule is there any reference that suggests they are exempt from complying with the requirements of IDEA 2004 for a Free Appropriate Public Education. Indeed, the Minnesota ESY rule apparently only addresses criteria for these services, not the services themselves, and therefore should still need to comply with IDEA. Additionally, IDEA states when implementing ESY services the public agency may not "unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services".

Yeah. Bite me.

It was sent, and we waited. And waited.

And today... SUCCESS! Apparently, they have found a way to "work it out" for us.

Yep, I thought they might.

Most excellent.

5 comments:

Crystal said...

that's awesome, Pia! I remember a few parents who wouldn't put their kids in our esy program b/c the students were so diverse and varied in the one class we had, it wasn't meeting their kid's specific needs and was actually detrimental to their behavior and progress.

abby said...

Good for you. Citing the law tends to get you pretty far. I guess that's because the school districts are in the business of breaking the law and hoping no one calls them on it. Amazing what happens when you show that you actually do know what you are talking about. Sucks that this is the reality of the situation, over and over. Special Needs mamas grow teeth, talons, and develop deep growls very quickly, sadly enough.

pixiemama said...

Ah! YOU DID IT!

I hate that most districts wait until you pull out the big guns to take action. It's just ridiculous.

Good for you. Better yet, good for the J-man.

xo

kyra said...

you are AWESOME! i bow to the great god GEMM!!!

but it sucks that it has to come this way, you know? why always the battle. sigh.

Heidi said...

AWESOME for you and your son!! Just a shame it had to come to that. Why do they make this so hard for parents??

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