I carefully crafted an objective email about this incident
with Jack's special education teacher the other day. It took me seven rewrites to perfect, since I had to avoid being emotional and angry. It was, by no means, easy. Even my Mother helped me. In the end, however, the first draft turned into something completely different by the time I hit "send."
This is the letter that I emailed to the principal (Dr. X) at Jack's school, his case manager (Ms. Y), cc'ing it also to his speech therapist, his occupational therapist, his social worker, and his special education teacher (Ms. Z):Greetings, Dr. X and Ms. Y.
My name is Eatmisery and I have a son, Jack, in Ms. Z's afternoon class. I also work for BlahBlahBlah, teaching BleeBleeBlee in a LaLaLa school. I have a concern that I'd like to discuss with you.
At Report Card Day, I had a lovely meeting with Ms. Z. She and Ms. Q (the classroom aide) are working very hard with my son and I appreciate it. We communicate by email several times a week and Ms. Z updates me on his progress. We even talked about his disabilities at the Open House in September. On Wednesday, she brought to my attention that she sees "autistic traits" in him and I applaud her for noticing that. She mentioned wanting to have him evaluated by Autism. My concern is that his disability is already listed in his Individualized Education Program as Autism, in addition to Developmental Delay. I'm not quite sure how this was overlooked. When I'd mentioned to her that he'd already been evaluated last year by the autism department and was, in fact, classified as such, she told me that she'd have to check his IEP. I was glad I'd brought the IEP with me to show her.
I'm not sure if the strategies and interventions in place would've been different had she known he was on the autism spectrum. Perhaps, it just slipped her mind because he's high-functioning. Nevertheless, I just want to make sure that he's not re-evaluated again for autism when it's clear on the IEP that that is exactly what his disability is, in addition to developmental delay.
Could you please help me make sure that everyone who interacts with Jack knows what his disabilities are exactly and are following the accommodations and modifications listed in his IEP? I don't want there to be any miscommunication. It's very important to me that everyone is on the same page. I appreciate your time.
While I wish this letter hadn't been dripping with kindness and had screamed, "I'm fucking pissed off" instead, it served its purpose well. Withing 35 minutes, I'd had a response from the principal, thanking me for sharing my concerns with all of them. She'd already met with Jack's teacher and the case manager and discussed my concerns with them. She'd assured me that Ms. Z would be contacting me to clarify things.
Ten minutes after I got home from work, Ms. Z called the house. Although she didn't admit to not reading the IEP (because admitting that would get her in big trouble, even though we all know she didn't read it), she did let me know that the strategies she uses with him would be the same ones regardless of whether he was on the spectrum or not; I believe her. She's not a bad person, but I think she's a tired veteran teacher, embroiled in the politics of job cuts, day-to-day drama, and the uncertainty of the practices of the Board of Ed. I understand her dilemmas, but it's no excuse for not reading an IEP. I just couldn't let this one go because it's a big faux pas, as a special educator. Our conversation was pleasant and I "played the game." She tried to make it sound like she would have the psychologist come to her class to see if he would be able to offer other strategies upon observing Jack. This is not what she mentioned at all on report card day, but I let it go. The more people helping my kid, the better. I'm sure throwing the psychologist thing in there was her way of saving herself. I let her.
The bottom line is she knows that I know what she did or did not
do in this matter. And now everyone knows because I made some noise. That's a good thing because Jack can't do it for himself. My job is to make sure he gets every accommodation, every modification, and every intervention or strategy needed for him to be successful in the classroom. It's my job to be his personal pitbull and I don't take it lightly.
People in the line of my fire can call me a bitch, but no one can ever say I don't care about or love my son. I am, after all, not just his Mom; I'm his biggest fan.
Touche. Gaining leverage is never a bad thing.