Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Parents Can't Be An Equal Part Of The IEP Team

My school district will not allow the tape recording of meetings. I feel as though they use that to their advantage. If you are doing everything legal, what do you have to worry about? It would protect both sides. Below are examples of meeting notes and my notes. I was recently told, "You also asked about your notes being added to our Conference Notes. Our Conference Notes are the school district's record of the meetings. Your communications with us are placed in Jacob's SPED folder"

My notes:

I wanted to write a letter of understanding to make sure that we all agreed on the meeting of August 27th. If you have any corrections please let me know within 10 days.

The Agenda was as follows:

AGENDA - JACOB TUCKER IEP - AUGUST 27, 2008, 2:45 TO 3:30

-Parental request for changes to IEP
-Transition to new classes
-Schedule meeting to write reevaluation plan

Introductions were made. I was not given a list of the participants and was only able to make a very crude listing of who was in attendance. There was no written attendance list filled out.

I sent the following request to the district asking for changes to Jake's Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance

During the IEP meeting we discussed that Jake's short term memory was not just information that the parents shared from outside testing, but it was also very apparent from the district's testing as well. When I received the IEP it stated that "Parents share that outside testing also indicates learning disabilities in written language, short-term memory, and theory of mind. Teachers observe short-term memory weaknesses in the the classroom also." That is not what we agreed upon and it is not completely accurate. The district's tests also show a weakness in short term memory and we agreed that the Present Level would state that. Also, the reason that district tests do not show that Jake has a weakness in written language is because I gave permission for Jake to be given the OWLS test and the district gave him the CASL test. If the district had given him the OWLS test they would have the results that show that Jake has a written language deficit and that it needs to be addressed.

The present level also states that Jacob has shown improvement initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations appropriately, as well as identifying the emotions of others. Later on the same page it states that Jacob has difficulty joining in appropriately with peers to participate in conversations, understanding how to reciprocate with peers, It also states that Jacob's disability affects his functional and academic involvement and progress in regular education curriculum in the following manner:

Class participation, staying on task, understanding and following instructions, completing and turning in work on time, organization, self-advocating for make-up work, taking notes, expressing himself through lengthy forms of written expression, test-taking skills, understanding the emotions of peers and teachers, and general social skills.

Jake's psychiatrist and I do not believe that Jake has made any progress in the area of conversations or in identifying the emotions of others. Jake's psychiatrist has a practice of teenagers with autism and it is his opinion that Jake is not on the high end and that he is too affected by his autism to be able to be doing what the present level states.

I would like the sentence, "His forgetfulness or memory is reported to also be affected by inattention." That leads to the impression that he does not have an issue with his short term memory. I have stated above why I believe that he has an issue with short term memory and I believe that his IEP needs to address this fact.

Under Assistive Technology you state that Jake has been resistive to carrying the Quick Pad to classes. He did not believe that it worked. It was kept in his 7th hour class and that teacher had to figure out how to use it each time that it was taken out of the closet that it was kept in. Therefore, Jake believed that it did not work. I stated this at the IEP meeting and wish to have that in the present level instead of saying that Jake was resistive to using it. Finally, that same teacher let Jake use a class computer, which I had suggested in middle school, and told Jake that "I have figured out a loophole around your mom's rules." That is unacceptable to me. This same teacher admitted in the IEP meeting that she had said this. Jake came home and told me that I was making things harder for him because that is the impression that he received from this teacher. My advocacy for Jake should never be discussed with Jake without my permission and should never be used as an excuse to find loopholes.

Under strengths it states that Mrs. Tucker shared that she does not feel that Jacob has any strengths. That is taken totally out of context and is completely inaccurate. I was asked what strengths I felt Jake had for his future. I said that he didn't have any strengths that would lead to him living an independent "normal" life. I did state that Jake is great at math and reading. But, he was not given the tools to live within society because the district did not address his social issues when he started in the district at the age of 5. I want that statement removed.

We didn't discuss Goal number 6 at the meeting. It is not appropriate to change that goal without discusses it. Your letter states, "You will notice that Goal 6 form the draft IEP has been changed, because of our discussion on the difficulties with accurate measurement. Instead we will focus on self-advocacy in helping Jacob build better habits in requesting make-up work since it is listed in the present level as one of the ways Autism affects Jacob in the general curriculum."

On the Modifications and Accommodations page I specifically stated that I was not in agreement to As Needed being used. That is defined as to be determined by the special education and/or regular education staff and that is leaving an important party out of the decisions. I do not believe that it is appropriate to use that term on this IEP.

Under Regular Education Participation it states that Jake is rejected from less restrictive options because of lack of previous progress in regular education with modification, and with the use of supplementary aids and services. Jake has not received services or modifications. What does this mean? It also states that student's diverse learning styles require alternative instructional environment and Jake is in a regular education classroom. Finally, it states that student requires highly structured, small-group setting, and individualized instruction. Once again, this is not taking place. Jake is in a classroom of over 25 students with two teachers. That is not small group or individualized instruction.

Finally, we discussed a social skills class and my psychiatrist and I believe that it is totally inappropriate for Jake. He requires one-on-one instruction from a person that is HIGHLY trained in his disability. It is necessary for the person that is giving Jake services to COMPLETELY understand his disability so that they can understand the difference between one sided conversations and real conversations. Jake has made no progress in this area and has very little time left to make some progress.

The following is what we resolved at our August 27th meeting.

The district highlighted two sentences on his present level that state, "expressing himself through lengthy forms of written expression," and "writing/editing and writing complexity". These are under Jacob's disability affects his functional and academic involvement and progress in regular education curriculum in the following manner:

The district said that they believed that addressed Jake's written language deficit and asked if I agreed. I said that I didn't, but we would be retesting Jake soon and it would all have to be rewritten anyway, so I would leave it for the sake of argument.

As for Jake's short term memory issue, they added a sentence that stated "District testing also indicates short term memory weakness."

They removed the statement "His forgetfulness or memory is reported to also be affected by inattention.

As for the issue about the assistive technology, they added a sentence that stated, "Mrs. Tucker believes that this was because he believed it did not work."

I told the team that I disagreed with that statement. The device didn't work in Jake's mind and that's why he didn't want to use it. He was not resistive to carrying the Quick Pad to classes. He was resistive to working with a machine that didn't work. The team refused to take that out. I was told that I am the expert on Jake at home and the district is the expert on Jake at school.

I would like to state that I find that offensive and incorrect. If the district was an expert on Jake at school all of his teachers would be HIGHLY trained in his disability. I wouldn't have to go to meetings and explain Jake's actions, issues, etc if the team at school was an expert on my son. If the team were an expert on my son, they wouldn't have put him into a class that A) he was not qualified for and B) was totally inappropriate for a student with autism. If the team were an expert on my son they would not have recommended an art class for a child with dysgraphia or a music class that he surely would have been overwhelmed in. This is not the first time that the team has suggested a class that was totally inappropriate for Jake. It was disastrous before and I'm quite sure that it would have been again if Jake had qualified for the 1st hour class.

Under strengths it stated that Mrs. Tucker shared that she does not feel that Jacob has any strengths. That was changed to "Mrs. Tucker feels that Jacob does not have any strengths that would lead to him living an independent "normal" life. She does feel that he is great at math and reading."

Under reasons for rejection of less restrictive options:

The following were removed:

Lack of previous progress in regular education with modifications, and with the use of supplementary aids and services. Jake has only bee in regular education with no modifications, so that statement was completely inaccurate.

Requires highly structured, small-group setting, and individualized instruction. While that would be the ideal setting for Jake it was rejected and has not been offered. I was told that Jake's only options were regular ed or life skills.

The following were left and other was modified:

Student's diverse learning styles require alternative instructional environment.
Other: Highly structured small group setting helpful one period per day to assist with organization support reg ed coursework. I would like to know the teacher to student ratio in that class. Also, I would like to know if that teacher has been trained in autism and all that it entails.

We did not discuss goal number 6.

We did not discuss what social skills training Jake would receive and if that person would be highly qualified to work with Jake.

We finally discussed the accommodations for Jake. I do not like to use the term "AS NEEDED". On the sheet it states, "AS Needed is defined as to be determined by the special education and/or regular education staff." We have already determined that the staff is not highly trained in Jake's disability and to leave such a decision up to them would be neglectful.

Small group testing was changed to "Access to small group testing with rephrasing of directions." We had a very long discussion on what that meant. Joy Rose stated, "Historically Jake has refused to take tests in a small group and it resulted in meltdowns and shutdowns." I would like to know where that information came from because it is totally inaccurate and should not be in Jake's file.

Jake always took tests in small groups at Prairie View. It was no big deal and it lead to higher test scores. When he entered Pleasant Lea they did not give him tests in small groups. His IEP stated that they were supposed to. Then they finally agreed to do it, but they asked if him if he wanted to. Most times he said no. That is not a refusal. That is a child being given a choice and choosing.

Had the district implemented his IEP throughout his ten years in this district, this would not be an issue right now. I have no problem with Jake taking tests in the classroom as long as he understands what the test is asking of him and he is able to take it. Making a child sit in the hallway is not my idea of small group testing and that is what has been offered on more than one occasion.

We discussed that Jake has been tardy to a few classes, but that the teachers haven't marked him tardy. Jake does not visit in the halls or play around. He simply walks from class to class and sometimes the distance is too far for him to make it in time. Allow to leave class few minutes early was changed to daily for that reason.

We discussed Jake's issues with school and how much he hates it. I told the team that he is under a great deal of stress just coming to school. It overwhelms him. He can't sleep at night. These are characteristics of most children with autism and it is another example of how the district is not an expert on Jake.

Jake is having some issues in math. The teachers say that he is refusing to work. I talked with Jake and he told me that he is so tired he just can't concentrate. We will speak to his psychiatrist about the stress and lack of sleep.

We are scheduling evaluations for Jake to be done in October. I sent a list to the district that was given to me by an expert in educational testing. The district didn't agree to those tests yet and stated that they couldn't give him a test that they don't already own. It was stated that Jake didn't need an IQ test because they already know that he is smart. I disagree and feel that past testing by the district has been incomplete and didn't find the deficits that he has and that his education has suffered from it.

Thanks for meeting with us and for the opportunity to meet Jake's teachers and try to give them a better picture of Jake.

Their notes:

Psychiatrist appointment Sept. 17. On clinical trial until this date then starts seeing psychiatrist on patient bases. Another appointment in October.

Joy went over Notice of Action which shows changes being made to IEP.

Taking off abilifymedication Sept. 17. He will have more anxiety. Will be off of for at least a 3 week trial. The team agreed that it would not be in Jake's best interests to write a reevaluation plan and pull Jake out of classes for testing right after the time his meds.

Change Sept. 17. Joy Rose told Mrs. Tucker that she would e-mail her a list of some dates that could be options of times to meet towards the beginning of October.

Curtis wants to know what reeval. is about. We do 7 areas. Test that will give us information for programming.

Specific testing in email. Is that the whole list? No. Joy told Mrs. Tucker that the district doesn't have to go out and buy specific tests if we have something comparable.

We will look at areas that need to be measured. Written language seems to be big concern for Sherri. Joy Rose told Mom to send any more specific requests to her so that she can check to see if we have that instrument or something comparable before we meet to write evaluation plan.

Parents given copy of Procedural Safeguards and Notice of Action.

Teachers were told that a copy of Amended IEP would be in their mailboxes in a day or two to replace the original IEP with.

Math teachers shared some concerns that Jake is verbally negative at times about his abilities and asked parents if they had any ideas as to how to help with this.

Going to do an observation of his route between 1 st and 2nd hr. to see ifhe is taking and knows the shortest route. Allow to leave class few mins. early Daily.

Reasons for Rejection of LRO: See *. Clarified the reasoning behind why he is in a Resource Lab. Parents okay with.

Teachers shared that they have concerns because so far Jake has been unwilling to use his laptop. No long writing assignments have been done. Jake has preferred to handwrite shorter assignments. Parents have OKed that on anything other than lengthy ones. Mr.

Smith said he had a lot of short quizzes in class and family agreed that he could stay in class and write answers unless Jake felt he needed assistance.

We discussed the fact that his unwillingness to use the Laptop is why he does not have his assignments written down. Although this is our goal, team decided to use paper assignment sheet until we can help him form this habit.

Discussed the fact that if Jake is late for class, it is not because he is talking to others in the hallway. So, we will need to cut him some slack.

Joy will make corrections to IEP and get in mail in next few days.

Will use Jacob Tucker Planner Sheet. Teachers fill out. We will look at gradually moving him from this to the planner sheet on his H drive. Folders for each class on his H drive. Check with tech. to see if teachers can put assignments in his H drive.

Get Jake used to using computer and then look at One Note and or other program. Some difficulty and confusion in using One Note.

Sits in the shower at home for 30 mins. after school to unwind.

Teacher provided notes - Jake tends to not pay attention after notes are handed to him in Math. Sherri ask if Jessi was sure he wasn't paying attention? Based on his answers to direction questions he isn't listening. Stacey suggest give him notes with some missing words here and there. Jessi will check with him to see ifhe is hungry. Isn't eating breakfast. He is bringing a snack but not sure when he's eating it. He doesn't see Geometry as math.

Curtis - If you put him on the spot in front of other people he will shut down.

Did very well listening to Peachee in ICP today.

Overall, teachers feel like he has transitioned well to this school year. He is focused and contributes in class many times more than others.

If frustrated or doesn't know what's going on will say he doesn't know what's going on.


Present: Joy Rose, Sherrie Tucker, Curtis Tucker, Rick Smith, Stacey Martin, Kim Sterne, Dawn Payne, Cindy Britt, Gerald Clevenger, Jamie Argotsinger, Jessi Ramsey, Janalee Byers, Michelle Rees, Christine Peachee, Duane Fleck, Joyce Jackson, Kelli Wilson, Deanna Thorne

After introductions, Joy Rose shared the agenda and explained that the team would be considering parental requests for changes to be made to the IEP that had been shared with them before school started.

See Draft of Proposed changes for Amendment:

Page 2 IEP last paragraph * written in, yellow highlight on pg. 2 show written language.

He also has 2 written language goals.

Sherri - he definently shows a written lang. deficit. It shows in Present Level.

Sherri - I guess will just wait til you do the right testing this time and it shows up.

Assistive Tech. - Change, been resistive to carrying, to appeared resistive to carrying. Sherri questioned whether or not his appearing resistive to carrying his Quick Pad should be in there since she feels it is only because he didn't believe it worked. Joy Rose told her that we may just have to meet each other half way on this as for whatever reason, our staff observations indicate that he appeared resistant to carrying it.

Sherri believes Jacob does not have any strengths statement changed to reflect for transition., see PLAAFP at bottom.

State/District Assess. Mark out tests red if not measuring reading because of changes to state testing this year. That won't be allowed.

Mods. - Do parents want teachers to push Jacob to small group testing or give him the choice to stay with his class. Mom wants to talk to Jake. She will get back to us.

Small group testing has to do with the noise around him not being sure what he understands what's being ask. Mod's in question were changed to Daily with some change in wording on some. Joy Rose explained to parents that we do not want to frustrate Jacob by forcing him to leave the class for testing ifhe feels that he does not need to go as then he sometimes shuts down. Mr. Curtis agreed that Jacob does not like to have attention drawn to himself.

English - Quizes every Friday. Okay to ask him what he wants to do. Discussed his difficulty explaining how a person felt in a story.

If he takes test/quiz and does fine then okay. Ifhe doesn't do well investigate why. May need small group/indo Retake.

Use computer on extended writing assignments. Anything more than 5-8 sentences.

Dawn Payne ask about some of the work in English. Showed examples. Mom was okay with them.

Special spot in classroom for Jake's supplies - Math is working out well. It's working perfectly.


Lee's Summit High School

400 S.E. Blue Parkway Lee's Summit, Missouri 64063-4399 (816) 986-2000 FAX (816) 986-2095

September 5, 2008

Dear Sherri,

In response to your e-mail of August 29, please find attached a copy of our Conference Notes. The participants are listed. Hopefully it will be helpful to you to have to compare with your notes. If you are not comfortable with Goal Number 6 now that you have had time to consider it, please let us know what you would like to see focused upon.

Thank you also for sending us information on the reevaluation you would like to see. We will look forward to seeing you October 6th. Per your request, I will e-mail you our suggestions utilizing your input on an evaluation plan. We can then make the final decisions on areas to be evaluated and instruments to be used as a team when we meet. I might suggest having a smaller team, utilizing the members that are required to be legal, when we write the evaluation plan. I would feel it is more important to have as many of the teachers present as possible when we go through the results of testing and look at the implications for programming. Would you be comfortable with that?

Respectfully yours,

Joy Rose SPED Process Coordinator

My Notes:

I would like to make sure that we all have a clear understanding of the meeting that took place yesterday. It was scheduled on September 19, 2006. The attendees were Sherri Tucker, Diane Stark (sister of Sherri and employee of Children's Mercy Hospital since 1981), Todd Wilson, Kim Berkstresser, and Suzanne Vleisides. Jannette Cooley
attended half of the meeting. I need a copy of the schools' minutes for this meeting. Please correct me on any items that I am mistaken on.

The meeting was called to discuss the modifications that should be made to Jacob Tucker's IEP. He has modifications in every class and his mother felt that he needed modifications in PE. She has done a great deal of research on this subject and has offered the information to all that were involved in this meeting, with the exception of Ms. Cooley.

I began the meeting by reading some information that had been given to me by a specialist in AS. I wanted the team to be privy to knowledge that I had gained in the hours prior to the meeting. I also stated that I had spoken with many parents of children in middle school with AS.

I read the following: "Jacob is challenged every single day. Physically, socially and mentally. Jacob also needs a different kind of preparation for the world outside of school. Most AS kids live outside their comfort zone just by virtue of walking into the school building."

I also told everyone that Jake's psychologist has determined that Jake has anxiety issues and they are mostly due to school.

There was some more conversation and it there was a lot of back and forth about autism. I don't believe that Mr. Wilson is very knowledgeable about autism. That is the impression that I got.

I believe that Mr. Wilson then stated that he did not believe this to be the case and that he knew Jake better than any "What do you call it? AS?" specialists. I believe that he then said that he still do not believe that Jake was suffering from anxiety. I explained that Jake's anxiety was not detectable to him because he is autistic and doesn't act the same as "normal" kids.

Kim and Suzanne were very good at facilitating the meeting. They kept asking what modifications needed to be put into Jake's IEP. I stated that I did not want Jake to have to run laps. He had been punished for not running laps the prior week.

Mr. Wilson stated that Jake was not punished for walking he was punished for not running the last 20 feet when he was instructed to. I asked Mr. Wilson what he told Jake. He stated that he told Jake and two other kids that they needed to "hustle" on the last 20 feet. He said that he punished Jake for not following instructions and that he felt that Jake needed to be punished.

I explained that Jake is autistic and he takes things literally. "Hustle" does not mean run to Jake. I'm not even sure
that he knows what it means. I told him that Jake thought that he was being punished for not running all of the laps. He did not understand that he was being punished for not "hustling" and was probably not even sure what was being asked of him.

I went on to explain to Mr. Wilson that AS kids have difficulties with motor skills. He stated that he disagreed and that he knew more about Jake's abilities than I do.

Somewhere during this conversation Ms. Cooley arrived in the meeting. There were many conversations going back and forth and I can't recall every one. I will request that future meetings be recorded.

We finally got back down to discussing the modifications. There was some confusion as to what to put into the IEP. I stated that I had hoped that the team would have some suggestions and felt that the PE teacher would be the best person to come up with some of these, but it appeared that the PE teacher didn't feel that modifications were warranted and that I would need to do some more research on my own time.

We did decide that Jake should not have to run laps. It got pretty technical and there was discussion as to whether he should run during basketball, etc. It was finally decided that Jake would not have to run laps or long distances.

I believe that Mr. Wilson asked how that would be handled and if he would say to all of the kids "You all have to run, but Jake you can walk." He also stated, "What happens if Jake accidently runs? Am I going to get into trouble for that?"

Kim, Suzanne, my sister, and I all stated that it would be great if Jake ran, but that he doesn't have to. I stated that I didn't want there to be any question about whether Jake had to run or not and that's why I wanted it in black and white. I didn't want to depend on the teacher to make a decision for a child that has a disorder that he clearly doesn't understand.

Mr. Wilson brought up an email that I wrote to him last year. He had emailed me the above and I responded in a positive way. We had so many issues with Jake last year that I didn't want to add to it. I responded in a kind and positive way to Mr. Wilson in hopes that he respond in the same way to Jake.

We discussed how Jake loved PE in elementary school and felt that Mr. Bishop hung the moon. I said that I agreed with that statement. Mr. Bishop is an excellent teacher and beyond that a wonderful and caring human being.

Mr. Wilson said that he felt that Jake liked him and had never appeared to be upset. I explained that Jake is autistic. He doesn't dislike people. He doesn't see the good or bad in people. He may be stressed by an activity, but not by the person making him do it.

Mr. Wilson asked me if I would be telling Jake that he didn't have to do anything he didn't want to in PE. I told him that what I discuss with adults is not the same as I what I tell Jake. I told that I would never go home and say "That person is mean." I will simply tell Jake that he needs to do his best and if he can't run then walking would be acceptable.

It was my feeling that Mr. Wilson was not on board with Jake having modifications. He continued to assert that Jake was up to the challenge of PE. I continued to assert that Jake is not a "normal" child and that he is not.

My sister brought up the fact that Mr. Wilson stated that my son lied. Mr. Wilson corrected her and said that he purposely stated that he didn't lie. So, we agreed that he stated that he slanted the truth. My sister stated that Mr. Wilson stated that Jake might be doing this in all of classes. She asked him how many of Jake's classes he had been in.

My sister brought up the fact that Mr. Wilson had addressed Jake's need for a healthy diet at home and that he felt that Jake needed to drink less pop at home so that he could get to sleep. Mr. Wilson agreed that I had sent him an email explaining that children with AS have sleep issues and that it has nothing to do with diet or pop consumption.

Mr. Wilson at first stated that Jake told him that he drinks pop before he goes to bed. He then stated that Jake drinks 3 or 4 cans of pop before he goes to bed. I explained to Mr. Wilson that he asked Jake if he drinks pop and Jake answered yes. Once again, I explained to Mr. Wilson that Jake is autistic and will only respond to a direct question. If he had asked Jake what time he drank that pop and how much, Jake would have answered that. Jake only told him that he drank pop.

I said that perhaps I should talk to my psychologist and see about having Jake released from PE. I really didn't feel that it was a good environment for Jake and I would not allow us to go back to where we were last year.

Ms. Cooley stated that she didn't want me to discuss last year anymore. My sister said that I had attended so many meetings last year and nothing was ever fixed.

Ms. Cooley told my sister that discussing last year wasn't going to get us anywhere and that no purpose was served by bringing it up. We need to focus on the positive.

I tried to insert, "If we don't learn from our past we are doomed to make the same mistakes." but I didn't get to finish my thoughts.

We once again discussed the modifications and Kim and Suzanne said that they knew that Mr. Wilson would follow through with whatever we decided. We decided that Jake would not have to run laps or long distances.

We concluded the meeting at that point.

I came home and contacted Jake's psychologist and talked to him about this meeting. We agreed that the atmosphere, in PE, would not be good for Jake's emotional and psychological well being. I told the psychologist that Jake's father would be taking him to the gym three times a week for physical fitness.

I would like to see Mr. Wilson attend a class on autism because I feel that he doesn't understand the disorder and it's impact on the students that he serves.

Their Notes:

Jacob gets anxious from PE he has to run more laps, sit-ups, or push-ups he's going to cause them to lose-all statements from Sherri. There are ways to modify w/out taking him out of PE. the team all agreed. Jake is pushed to the limits getting here Todd said he doesn't want him punished to do something beyond your control. Jacob has never been forced or will be to asked to run an extra lap as punishment following instructions is a concern Long distances Jake will walk rather than run. Jake will be encouraged to do his best but will not be punished for walking.