Filing a Police Report Against a School

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Sometimes it is necessary to file a police report when school districts make bad choices that put your child in danger.   Here are a couple of examples when I recommended filing a local police report.

  1. The school district removes a child from school because they claim his behavior was so disruptive that they did not know what to do. One family had their son removed to a hospital to keep “him safe.”  They did this without notifying the parents prior. When the parents finally got to their child in the hospital, he was only partially clothed. The district told the parents they want to outplace him because they can’t handle him at the regular school.  They told the parents the specific school they wanted to send him to. The parent wanted a choice in the matter. I recommended they file a police report because the school removed the child without notifying the parents and frightened him by making him ride in an ambulance from his school.
  2. A staff member at another school district was getting irritated with my client’s son. The staff member went over to the young man, put his hands on his shoulders, and shook him visibly. I recommended filing a police report. The police told the parents that they thought that DCF (Department of Children and Families) should handle it first. I told the parent to go back and insist on filing a report. The police department didn’t want to be bothered, so they passed the buck. I made the parent go back and insist they file a report anyway.

Here are my reasons for recommending these families file police reports: one, to have the offending behavior of the school on public record so that they should be certain that each child (of my clients) will not have a similar occurrence again,  lest the districts be in big trouble; and two, to have a police record on file against the school to give my clients leverage to get a more appropriate program for the students.

When there are events like these happening, the school probably does not know how to meet the child’s needs. Districts don’t want to admit that they can’t handle certain kids, and they don’t want to spend more money than necessary, but having documented these events with the police, will often tip the scales in your child’s favor.

Don’t Do it Alone – Get Help!

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I have encountered a few incidents where a child with special needs cannot get to school without outside help. Some families simply don’t have the tools, strength, right relationship or physical ability, to get their special needs child to school on time, if at all.

Your school district will not offer help. You have to ask for it. And you must make a compelling reason for them to do so.

Sadly, families trust that the districts have their back, and WOULD help if the COULD. A client of mine has an exceedingly difficult time getting her teenage daughter to school on time. The relationship with her mother (who is single and the sole adult responsible for getting her up and to school) is strained, at best, and the daughter simply WILL not do what her mother says. This is actually part of the girl’s disability – she is not just being an ornery child.

Since the girl misses enormous amounts of school, she is not receiving the education the school is obliged to give her.  Nothing the mother does will work. She can’t physically drag her.

So the school needs to provide a paraprofessional to come to the child’s home, and help get her out of the house and to school in a timely manner, otherwise, the child is not getting FAPE (free appropriate public education) which is what all districts are obliged to provide its students.

I won’t lie, there will be extreme push back from the school. But a calm parent advocate, armed with the truth and knowledge of the IDEA law, can compel the district to do the right thing for the family.

Don’t Take It Personally

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When a parent realizes that their child’s school district has not been forthcoming, has been delaying services, and is purposely misleading, we get mad. And understandably so.

That is what I did once I realized that my child’s school administrators were “handling” me. I was furious. How could they be so deceitful and make my life so difficult when I am the one who has a child with special needs! Life is hard enough, and the school is supposed to be here to support us. Not make things worse.

I found that anger was detrimental to my child’s case though. As natural as it is to feel that way, it is always detrimental to let anger fester. It becomes too tempting to treat the school with disrespect and disdain. What I found it does is close our minds to any good ideas and suggestions they may have to help our kids.

The fight easily becomes between “us” and “them” and not about how to get the best education for our kids. We need to check our egos and righteousness at the door – even if the school administrators do not. We have to be bigger than them for our kid’s sake.

 

Comparing Goals and Objectives Year to Year

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Does your child’s IEP look the same to you over the years? That is not a good sign and should be investigated. You want to be sure your child is receiving new and challenging Goals and Objectives that build on each other from year to year.

IEP’s are not really designed to easily track your child’s progress on Goals and Objectives.  It is even harder when the school writes the IEP in a different order from year to year. For instance, one year, your child’s math goals are numbers 4 and 5, but the following year they are numbers 2 and 3. This does happen. Dare I say that schools may do this purposely to confuse parents so they can’t easily determine that minimal progress is expected from their child?

I will use a spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel and stack the similar goals and objectives in rows on top of each other. This makes it easier to follow the progress or lack of. We need all the tools we can get to be sure our kids are being challenged!