Late Friday afternoon we were informed via form letter that our son will be forced to start school at a different school than the one he attended this past year…which was a different school from the one he attended in the 2010-2011 school year…which was different from the one he attended in the 2009-2010 school year. For those keeping score that means that Daniel will have attended four different schools in four consecutive school years and yet he remains within the boundaries of his neighborhood school, the school he attended in 2009 and the school three of his sisters attended.
So fantastically, fucking awesome, isn’t it?
I warned people last Friday F-bombs would be dropping.
Our family is so frustrated.
At his last IEP we discussed at length concerns his teachers and our family has had about his socialization skills and the fact he has no friends.
Can you imagine how heart-breaking it is to know that your child has no friends…doesn’t have a best friend? No one to have sleep overs with, to share birthday party invites with, to plan play dates with?
Can you imagine how HARD it is for a child to make and keep friends when they are shuffled every year to a different school?
As a child, from kindergarten through fifth grade I attended eight different schools…EIGHT. No, I was not a military brat. My family just moved a lot for reasons I never clearly understood. I was too busy trying to make a friend to play with on the school playground. A friend who could offer a little bit of respite from my adult responsibilities of caring for my younger siblings and mentally ill mother. And usually right around the time when I would have a friend whom I could play with at school and around my neighborhood, we would move away to another community, another school district, another school.
I can imagine how hard it is for Daniel at the start of every school year. Standing there on the playground, holding tightly onto his mom’s hand that first day of school, he sees boys and girls running all over the place sharing stories of their summertime adventures they enjoyed with their friends and family. They are rushing to hug teachers from the previous school year or the yard duty mom or the cafeteria lady. The principal is walking around the campus waving, calling out to his or her students asking how their summer vacation was and the kids rush up to hug him or her. That first day back to school can be so stressful for students as they anticipate what the new teacher will be like and what the next grade will be like. Thank goodness there is so much familiarity for the boys and girls to have at their school. It is an environment where they can feel safe and comfortable as they begin a new adventure in a new classroom with a new teacher in a new grade. For six years of my elementary school experience I did not have this; and now my child, Daniel, doesn’t get to experience any of this…not since first grade.
It sucks. It absolutely, positively sucks.
Yeah, I’m crying.
Everyone at the IEP meeting a couple of months ago agreed that he deserved and should have stability in having a home school…even if it was not our neighborhood school. They all concurred that socialization and making friends was an important part of his education experience. And so the school district’s office of special education, in their infinite wisdom, grace and mercy declared from on high that Daniel would be starting the 2012-2013 school year at a new school across town. Requests and agreements made during IEP meetings be damned.
To the school district officials who made this decision all I can say is, “Dudes, you have no clue what you have unleashed.
Fortunately, Team Daniel is a big team, is a strong team, is a team including people who are savvy in special education law and writing and implementing IEPs. They are people who have come along side not judging us but supporting us, encouraging us, reassuring us that we didn’t fuck up trusting that our concerns would be considered and addressed. We have demanded another IEP meeting for as soon as possible and have an advocate in place who will be attending this meeting with us…a very tenacious advocate who can and will fight for Daniel.
I have no clue what the outcome will eventually be. I do know a fury has been unleashed and we are prepared to fight for our son to have that which virtually every other child in his school district is afforded: a school environment where he can feel comfortable and safe so that he can indeed realize the wish the director of the school district’s special education department has for students like Daniel to have a “happy and successful school year”.
But ultimately all I want is someone my son can call his friend…his best friend…something that I always wanted as a child.