Red Rover, Red Rover, Send D Right Over!
Sometimes, in the life of parents, we watch our children play games on the playground. As teachers, I always enjoyed watching kids play on the playground. Listening to their giggles, their laughter, watching them run, and getting sweaty always made me smile. It made my heart so happy.
Watching my kids play on the playground, they play chase, Power Rangers, run, jump, laugh, fight, giggle, and get sweaty. These are some of the best times as a parent of more than one child. Watching my children enjoying each other, and other kids, and having a good time together. We’re making memories that will last forever for them.
As a parent, on the other hand, I do not enjoy the playground games; the ones adults play. You know the ones…IEP’s, denial of services, jumping through rings of fire to get someone to realize your son or daughter needs more services to truly thrive. Right, you know what I’m talking about, those playground games.
This morning was the next IEP in the seemingly endless line of IEPs for D this year. We were meeting this morning to place him on intermittent homebound. That means that if we can get him to school (and let me tell you, on the modified day from the last IEP meeting, that is a really big IF) then he can go. If he does not go, he will be given one hour of homebound services. A teacher will either come to the house or we will take him to the library for one whole hour of instruction (I digress, my thoughts on homebound instruction will be saved for another post).
Chad went to the meeting, I attended by phone. We’d been given the hint that they would prefer we not bring the whole crew. (In previous IEP meetings, we’ve been told how well behaved the little ones are. I think it was more a matter of not creating another traumatic experience for D by making him come to school this morning.) We held the meeting and everything seemed as ok as it could be. No, it wasn’t necessarily what I had completely hoped for, but the fact is, homebound doesn’t get him back to school, nor does it provide him with the rigor that he would experience in the regular classroom. That said, he certainly isn’t getting that at home when he is unable to go to school because of his intense anxiety, either. So, I decided some is better than none, right?
It was decided that he would get 1hr/day for days missed, the homebound teacher would start serving him immediately, and would be able to work through the holidays to make up time and hopefully help us convince him to come back to school in January.
Next, the homebound teacher who was chosen by the district to work with him came into the meeting and introduced himself. The team explained what we were expecting from his services and he said, “Well, I can’t start til the 26th. I was thinking I’d just start then and do the back hours that week.” I asked, “Is there not any way we can start sooner? I thought we were going to work to hopefully, with our help, get him caught up and then convince him how much more wonderful it would be to go back to school.” He immediately got defensive and explained he had other plans (which I completely understand, but it seems to me the district should have confirmed he could work within our plans for D, not that D could work within the plans the teacher had, right?) and that he would be unable to do it.
I felt pretty sick after the meeting, but I also wasn’t completely sure how to fix it. I put my head down, prayed, and was giving it time for God to let me know which way to go next. A little later, the phone rang. The principal at D’s school called and said that she had heard the homebound teacher would not be a good fit for D and so they are looking for a teacher who will be. Thank you, Lord for hearing my prayer!
In the next breath, however, she mentioned a local residential treatment center for D and mentioned that she could pull some strings so we could go tour their facilities. I asked, “Am I understanding correctly that this is something the school system is looking at as a possibility? Residential Treatment?” She backtracked and said they are not, but she just wanted us to know that it was an option close to home should we be considering it and that she thought we might like to look around. I assured her that despite our ups and downs, D is probably the most stable he has been in 2 years and while we have tough moments, RTC is not currently an option. I felt pretty sick again after that part of the conversation.
All in all, I feel like I am playing Red Rover with the school system. I’m on one side, they’re on the other side, and D is in the middle. Either way, I cannot seem to figure out what the best option is for D. I have no idea how to get him to school, but I do know that I cannot continue to let him hang out with no true educational experiences. I know that if he does not go back to school in January, we will have to make other arrangements. Something more structured, whether it be the online charter school or a more structured homeschooling environment.
Until January, I’ll continue to pray that God will open his eyes, heart, and mind. I’ll continue to pray that God will give him a peace of mind and peace of heart in knowing that he can go back to school, free from ridicule or judgement, and he will be accepted back as if he had never left. I’m praying that God will give all of us the courage, understanding, and ability to do what we need to help D, in whatever capacity that is.