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Friday, May 15, 2009

My job as Maddie's parent is to make sure they do THEIR job. And I take MY job very seriously.

Well...you can't say I didn't warn ya.
Or that we hadn't warned ourselves.
My worst fears about moving back to the Emerald City were confirmed yesterday morning...and I'm tellin' ya it was all I could do not to absolutely lose my cool.
We had Maddie's transitional meeting yesterday. It was a conference call between the Emerald City school district and Grab-Your-Lasso.
It went just about as well as I expected. Not that I'm a sooth-sayer or anything, but I know the Emerald City. I know the kinds of services my kids got there, and while I'm sure the providers have the best of intentions, its the bureaucrats I'm not so sure of.
It all started out well enough. There were several friendly, familiar voices on the line...which was wonderful. Everyone listened to my spiel about Maddie's history...where's she's been, where she's at now, blah, blah, blah...
Stephanie, Maddie's speech pathologist went over her part, Melissa, the preschool teacher went over hers..and we skimmed through the PT and OT recommendations because its all written out in the plan and both of those are obviously not a HUGE concern.
And then it happened.
The director of the county educational cooperative mentioned the district will only provide two weeks of extended school year education this summer. Two weeks...out of 12!
And he's not even sure if Maddie would qualify. They have to show regression, after all. And what kind of proof do we have that Maddie would regress?!
All of my fears about moving back to Kansas were confirmed in that one little sentence. In Grab-Your-Lasso Maddie would be getting weekly speech help over the course of the summer. In Kansas they said they would need documentation she would regress over the summer and not just stay stagnant or miss out on some good progress just in order to get ten days worth of help - even though her speech pathologist had included it in the report...and confirmed it by phone...he still refused to budge.
I didn't react well.
'Four years in an orphanage,' I calmly replied. 'Is that not proof enough?'
Yea. Not one of my better moments.
'Mrs C., are you yelling at me?'
'No sir,' I snidely replied (see I told you it wasn't my finest moment). 'I am not. I am trying to get you to understand what you are doing to my daughter. She has been fighting an uphill battle for the better part of a year. Trying her little heart out (insert sob here) to learn a language and make correct speech sounds, despite a severe hearing loss. And YOU'RE PUTTING ANOTHER BOULDER IN HER PATH. If you lived with this child on a day to day basis you would know the enormity of the pitfall you are about to drop her into.'
'Mrs. C. as a Wyoming resident you couldn't possibly understand the financial strain this school district is under. The state has cut back on all kinds of education funding. Things aren't the same here as they are in Wyoming.'
'Sir...I was a resident of Kansas for 20 years..I lived in the Emerald City for nearly six. I'm still a homeowner, and a tax-payer. My tax refund was nearly withheld because of Kansas revenue issues, so don't tell me I don't know what's going on. I am perfectly aware we are leaving a Utopian situation here. If we were to remain in Grab-Your-Lasso my daughter would have all of the services she needs...no questions asked. My husband and I have debated and argued, pleaded and agonized over this decision. Do you think any parent in their right mind would WANT to leave Wyoming and come back to a state where their child wouldn't receive the same quality of care? I think not. So please don't sit there and tell me I don't understand. What I understand is that my child will not have the same opportunities afforded her here in Grab-Your-Lasso and despite what I am sure are everyone's good intentions, we are setting our daughter up for, if not failure, at least ultimately not reaching her full potential. As her parents we have had to choose between (insert big sob here) putting a roof over all of our family's collective heads or staying in a city where our special needs daughter can have all the opportunities she needs...but our family goes bankrupt."
After a moment one person on the other end of the line asked for some data....

our speech pathologist started talking...
and I sunk back into my chair.
The preschool teacher patted me on the shoulder, the speech pathologist sent me a sympathetic look and Maddie blissfully played with her puzzle, completely unaware of the mean, mean man on the other end of the line.
I called later and apologized for my outburst. Don't get me wrong. I didn't apologize for standing up for my daughter - and I reiterated some of my finer points - while leaving out a lot of the emotion. I simply apologizing for losing my cool. I mean after all, I wouldn't be doing Maddie any favors by getting on these people's bad side. She NEEDS these services.
I made sure they know I'm serious about helping my daughter reach her potential...and while I'm sure they have the best of intention of helping her, my job as Maddie's parent is to make sure they do THEIR job.

And I take MY job very seriously.

I went half-way around the world to find my daughter...I'm not afraid of doing what is necessary to make sure she has EVERYTHING she needs to succeed.
He thanked me for being such a conscientious parent...blah, blah, blah. And mentioned that after our conference call they had talked about sending the kindergarten teacher to a sign language class...and possibly contracting with a private agency to give Maddie a couple of extra sessions of speech therapy over the course of the summer.
So ALL is not lost. They seem to be willing to work with us.
At least we've won part of the battle.
I'm just afraid this won't be the last.
But you can be DARN sure we won't lose the war.

9 salty messages:

Anonymous,  May 15, 2009 at 1:24 PM  

All things considered, I'd say you handled yourself very very well. And yeah, I get that "thanks for being a conscientious parent" line from R's teacher too... I think it translates to "Boy do I miss the days when parents weren't so involved!!" LOL. Anyway, it sounds like you made your point and scored a few points perhaps too. Way to go!

Katie May 15, 2009 at 2:31 PM  

I second everything Christina said. Unfortunately, schools don't like having to make the effort to do what's best for those that don't necessarily fall neatly into the herd.

After I put up my post this afternoon, I got a call back from the online school (which is, technically, still a public school--hence their objection to the age thing). They tried to tell me I must have misunderstood everything I was told by the principal (in a lengthy discussion) last fall and that they stick to their guidelines. I got the principal's contact information so I could talk to him directly.

Of course, I'm waiting until I can talk to my local politician mother, first. Online schools are in danger of being crippled by our governor's proposed budget, and I want to make sure I have the name of which congressman it was that my mother took the time to have a face-to-face conversation with about the proposed budget cuts and how it would affect her family directly, should I feel the need to throw that information out there.

I asked Sean if that made me some kind of witch. His response? "No, it makes you a mother."

It's the same thing for how you responded. Trust me, chest thumping labor stories aside--you are just as much a mother as anyone else. Don't apologize for acting like one.

Annie May 15, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

This reminds me of my nightmare phone conversation with Maxim's Detroit "workers" - it was a horrific event. The phone makes things worse. By the end of it I thought they'd come take all my kids away, they were so mad at me.

I sure feel for you.

My advice is to be the squeaky wheel. As an educational administrator of a sort, I do know that if someone is pain-in-the-neck persistent I will probably get them what they want, to the degree that I CAN, just to get them to shut up. And if they are persistent, but urgent and NICE - you can't really hate them....they are just a force of nature that you bow before. Somehow I think you have it in you to fit that description!

MamaPoRuski May 15, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

WA has the same regression standards! But fortunately the local children's hospitals provide the services where the schools leave off and provide excellent financial assistance. The medical centers are more qualified and I prefer to trust my kids there any way. Praying for your move and a better outcome to the IEP plan!

Anonymous,  May 16, 2009 at 12:02 AM  

Hi Tami,
Your situation strikes a chord with me as I can see your situation from all sides. I am WAS a special education administrator (got out of there in a hurry), I AM a special ed and regular ed teacher (not working right now), and WE (hubby and I) are soon to become PARENTS of a beautiful little boy with down syndrome, adopted from Ukraine. There, how was that for a description of me? Anyway, nothing frightens me more than fighting for services for my son. The school district we live in is large, but is known to be stingy with services...I am hoping that my professional experience will help, but I'm also afraid that my "mommy" instincts will kick in and I will be seen as "one of those mothers". Anyway, what I wanted to say was...hang in there and fight for your Maddie, and don't be afraid to look elsewhere for services...hospitals...universities, if you live near one that has a speech/language program you can sometimes get therapy there.

kate May 16, 2009 at 1:00 AM  

Poor Mom!

I think this proves what I've sensed since you "blognamed" it--"The Emerald City" is a misnomer. It's not a happy, green paradise.

Although, it may be governed by a sham wizard...

Be strong and of good courage.

Diana May 16, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

Unfortunately, Utah has the same regression standards as well. I was livid when they told me my son didn't qualify for ESY last year as well. His speech significantly regressed just over spring break, he still colors and cuts like a 1 year old (he's 4.5) and he can't say more than half his speech sounds correctly, and his social skills are significantly lagging as well. How much more delayed does one have to be before they actually "qualify" for services? And they insist my son will be ready for Kindergarten next year. I don't think so!

Hang in there, mom, and keep fighting the good fight!

Christine May 16, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

Our school is the same about regression. I took it upon my myself to work with my kids during the summer so that they didn't regress as much. We are our child's best advocate and I found that it came to a point where I was using more energy fighting the district than it took to just do it myself. You may need to weigh your options too and meet them half way where you give up a little and they give a little more. I know that you will take great care of Maddie know matter what! Hang in there and keep up the great work!

Elaine May 16, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

You go girl! I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I know what a difficult decision it has been for you to head back to the Emeral City, and I can't imagine how horrible it was to have all of your concerns and fears validaged in the very first meeting with those yahoos. Umm, I mean people. You were just being a mom. Don't beat yourself up for losing your cool.

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