Friday, 3 November 2017

Time To Meet The Teachers (And the 1, 2, 3's of IEPs)

Mid to end of October is when the IEP (Individual Education Plans) come out, so early to mid November is when I meet with the teachers.

There is still a lot of work to do with Alex's IEP, beginning with the fact that they don't have several key reports listed as resources.  For those who haven't had to deal with the bureaucratic labyrinth that is the IEP (or those who just sign it and send it back the way I used to), there are a lot of potential minefields laid within it.

First, this is the document that any new teacher, staff or aide is supposed to refer to when coming in to work with your child.  (I'm not sure how much that actually happens, but this is the official "buck stops here" reference.)  So, assuming that the staff got wiped out in a freak balloon-related incident, the IEP is what the new teacher, aides and learning support staff would use.  My practical understanding is that most of the information ends up being transferred verbally anyway, but it's important for parents to realize that those verbal notes that they agree to with their child's teacher need to end up in the IEP.  Otherwise the school is under no obligation to continue to support a verbal agreement.

Second, the IEP uses its own language which is closer to legalese (which is not English despite using many of the same words).  Because of this, it can be hard for a parent to figure out what the IEP is referring to and what they need to pay attention to.  I'd been told that I needed to focus on "page 3" which is where the school lists out the individual accommodations, so that's where I've put most of my energy.  I didn't realize until last year that I also needed to go through the list of reference documents to make sure that the reports I was giving to the school were actually making it into Alex's file.

Third, the IEP is what will be used to determine your child's pass/fail point.  Alex "failed" last year due to his lack of cooperation, which was a direct result of how the behavior issues were managed.  Using the IEP, his tutor was able to demonstrate that Alex was capable of achieving all of the goals listed in his IEP, which helped me to establish that the issue was behavioural, rather than a lack of capacity.

Fourth, there are many things which are not part of the IEP but which need to be connected to it: like Alex's safety plan.  Since IEPs are only reviewed two or three times a year, documents which need more frequent updating can't become part of them.  But if they aren't referenced, a family can run into issues with point one in this post: if it's not in the IEP, it may or may not exist in the school's mind.

I suspect this will be a long process of making sure that Alex's IEP ends up being where it is supposed to be in order for him to have a smooth transition to high school next year.  And maybe it's just the depression and exhaustion speaking, but my goal for this year is not for Alex to improve but just for him to not be put in a situation where he will get worse.  It's rebuild the foundations time, not move forward time.

Added into the bureaucratic challenge of Alex's schooling, there's been a soft beep of alarm from Nathan's school as well.  His teacher has asked me to come in and meet to discuss strategies.  She's said that he's doing "academically well" and not to worry, but I am worried that "academically well" means that other areas of his schooling are not going well, like social and behavioural.  I'll find out next week when we get a chance to talk.

No comments:

Post a Comment