Monday, March 3, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Teachers Being Bullied Into Not Doing The Right Thing

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Teachers Being Bullied Into Not Doing The Right Thing

Why is a teacher removed from a building, told to resign, and deemed immoral to teach all because she made a mistake on an IEP?  She was trying to help students.  The district has destroyed her life and her emotional well being.

I have been in IEP meetings where personnel lied, denied services that were needed, ignored expert advice, and belittled parents concerns.  Which is more immoral? Which deserves the removal of the employee?  Which should be criminal?

Below are some examples of what I have seen:

Following are the concerns of the psychologist:

9. Jacob may benefit from more intensive, one-on-one instruction in multiplication and division. In light of his handwriting difficulties, he should be allowed to use a calculator when it is clear that he understands underlying concepts so he is not penalized for his motor skills difficulties. (Jacob still cannot multiply or divide)

The team felt that Jacob understood the concept of multiplication and division and that there was no reason to give him one-on-one help.  They felt that letting him use a calculator would solve the issues that he was having with math. Mother disagreed.  The team felt that Jacob understood math and most of his difficulties were due to his absences.  Mother stated, many times, that his absences are a direct result of the anxiety that he experiences because of school. Mother stated that his psychiatrist believes this to be true, too.  Mother stated that he was struggling with math before his absences.  The team disagreed and stated that he was having no problems with math except for when he was absent

I discussed this issue with Jerry Keimig in 2005 and told him that my son wanted to die because school was just too much for him.  

I met with Mr. Keimig for 15 minutes. I told him that I had read that most autistic children only respond to positive teaching. He told me that I couldn't believe everything that I read. I told him that I wanted my son in a class with a more positive teacher or in a modified curriculum. He told me that he may not be able to help my son in the future. I told him that my son was depressed and that being in this class was making it worse. He told me that it was a good life lesson for my son.

Jake has been told by teachers that his mom is making his life harder.  That he doesn't have a writing disability and that his mom is making rules.  He believes these people.  That not only makes my job harder, but it makes the district's job harder as well because he is then resistant to the help that he so desperately needs. 

Jake was given an Alpha Smart last year and it was kept in his 7th hour class and Ms. Jackson 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.  Finally, Ms Jackson 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.  Joyce Jackson 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. 

I asked Jake why he was resistive to using the laptop this year.  He said that it takes so long for it to boot up. This is a child with organizational issues and a child that can not follow more than two step directions.  While he is getting his computer set up he is not being able to hear what the teacher is saying or what is going on in the classroom.  He asked why he couldn't just use the computer in the classroom like he did before.  So, Jake is not resistive to using AT, as is the district's position, Jake is resistive to using something that he feels is making things even harder. 
His present level states that the district feels he is resistive.  Once again, this should be addressed in a BIP.  They put the following in his IEP in May, "Jake has been resistive to carrying the Quick Pad to classes."  I asked that it be changed because the statement was not accurate.  In August we had a meeting and the following is taken from my notes, "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 were 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." 
It also states the following, which once again proves that the district can't differentiate between typical behaviors and behaviors due to his disability.  "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."   
On that same discussion, I would like my notes added to the district's conference notes.  The Lee's Summit School District refuses to allow parents to tape record meetings and it is not acceptable that the only conference notes in my child's file would be from the district's viewpoint.  That is not allowing me to be a full participant on my son's IEP team.  I been not been allowed to be a full participant in the past and I would like to see that change.   
Also, I have been in contact with OSEP and my contact told me that it was inappropriate for the district to make the statement that the district is the expert on Jake at school and I am the expert at home.  They also told me that Jake should have a dual diagnosis.  One would be educational autism and the other would be ld because of his written language deficit and his dysgraphia.  The team at the meeting yesterday told me that Missouri doesn't do that and I advised that I was contacting OSEP today to ask her why she would advise me to do that when it is not something my state does.  She also advised me that she would like for me to seek mediation and I told I didn't feel that we were there yet and would like to handle this among ourselves.  She is waiting for my report from my meeting yesterday. 


I was just making you aware of the issues that we are facing.  I have been in contact with OSEP and have been sending her information on what families are facing.  She has suggested that I go to mediation and that there are several things that the district is doing wrong. 

I wanted to give you an idea of families in Missouri are facing.  I have families from all over the state that are sending me their stories so that I can try to help them.  I have forwarded those to OSEP as well.

The one thing I would like for you to clarify is about dual diagnosis.  Or at least point me in the right direction.  The woman at OSEP advised me that Jake should have a dual diagnosis.  One for his autism and one for a learning disability.  He has a written language deficit and dysgraphia. But, the district doesn't acknowledge those because it came from his physician.  The district has only evaluated Jake twice in 11 years and their evaluations were inadequate.

When I approached the team they stated that Missouri doesn't do a dual diagnosis.  I just wanted to know if that is true.  If so, I need to let the woman at OSEP know that.

Thanks for your help,

Dear Sherri,

In Missouri, a child is categorized by disability for reporting purposes (data purposes). The primary disability is reported. Many children have other disabilities or conditions. The category or “Label” used for reporting purposes does not drive the services.  A child’s services are driven by his needs and the free appropriate public education (FAPE) standard. In fact, there are many states that do not even use categories of disabilities.

Your note appears to indicate that the school district does not agree with your physician’s opinion that your child, whose primary disability is Autism, also has a learning disability. So it sounds like the issue is not really whether a “dual diagnosis” is permissible, but rather whether in fact Jacob has another disability besides Autism.

As you know, mediation and due process are certainly options, if you believe that your child is not receiving appropriate services to meet his needs.


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 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.

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.

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