Thursday, April 16, 2009


I haven't gone into too much detail about Tyler recently because a) he's almost 15 and I have a modicum of respect for his privacy when it comes to public discussion, and b) it's not really anyone's business. But something came up over the past 24 hours that has me fuming - and it's not about Tyler, per se. It's about a teacher.

Last Wednesday, I attended an IEP meeting at the high school, with Tyler and the IEP "team". An IEP is an Individualized Education Program, geared toward helping students who may have emotional disorders or learning disabilities succeed in public school. Keep in mind that three of my four grandparents were public school educators (as is my brother), and I've always given public education a slight benefit of the doubt in terms of the teachers and administrators really caring about my kids and what happens to them.

Also keep in mind that Tyler's most recent IEP was started at the end of 8th grade, and did not get put in place until last Wednesday. So I was understandably skeptical that anything was going to happen. And thusly very pleasantly surprised when I found a very competent and caring teacher assigned to Tyler's case. All seven of us in the meeting (including and especially Tyler) put ideas on the table and together we hammered out what we think will be an effective educational program for my son.

Of course, such things, once implemented, take time to show results.

So let's catch up: IEP meeting last Wednesday. Tyler in school on Thursday. Home study on Friday and Monday. Back on-site at school on Tuesday & Wednesday.

Wednesday night, I received an exasperated email from one of Tyler's teachers, saying how disruptive he was and how she was doing everything asked of her by his IEP (which had only become officially implemented at the beginning of this week), and aren't there any expectations of Tyler in all of this? As if we'd bend over backwards to make Tyler's school experience soft and cushy without standards of behavior and a mechanism to hold his feet to the fire and pony up some personal responsibility.

That perturbed me a bit, but it was late and I let it go, not wanting to fret about it all night.

Then, first thing this morning, another email arrived, from another teacher echoing the sentiments of the first teacher. He ended the email with "has anyone thought about contacting CPS?"

You're f**ing kidding me.



I wonder if the teacher realized that both Tyler and I are on the email list. Oopsie.

Now, I'm all for the existence of Child Protective Services. It's unfortunate that they have to exist, but it's a generally good thing they're in place. When Tyler was two, he took a header off the front porch while Sam was gardening, had a seizure of sorts, and ended up in the ER at Children's Hospital. Before we were allowed to leave, we were interviewed by a case worker from CPS - just to make sure we weren't beating our child. After the initial shock (and a bit of insult, to be sure), we both realized that it was good that someone was looking out for Tyler's well-being like we were.

However, you don't call CPS if a student is being disruptive. You don't assume things are bad at home because one of your thirty kids is making the already herculean task of teaching that much more difficult. In fact, if a teacher suspects abuse at home, he or she is REQUIRED by law to contact CPS, not just bat the concept around dismissively. And you certainly don't jump on the bandwagon before there has been adequate time to distill some results.

I'm just a bit ticked off. Well, more than a bit. Okay... a LOT.

After more than a year, we finally have an IEP in place, and a caring IEP team to facilitate. In most things, I'm firmly on the side of teachers. But these teachers are not making it easy to be on their side.


Stacey er..Bettye said...

*gets her hammer*

Yeah, you pretty much have to storm into the school on occasion to make sure the IEPs are being utilized correctly, and that all involved are on board. I've done it more than once. And for the love of all that is holy, could they please give more than a week of a new IEP before they start flapping their misguided gums?

Were I you, I would reply all to that email, just to keep them on their toes.


Marlowe said...

Hand in there, Todd. I'm rooting for you. Can't say I trust CPS.