Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Disappointing IEP Meeting

Yesterday's IEP meeting for my oldest son was a doozie. For those of you who are not familiar with IEP meetings, these are legal meetings with school personnel that outline an Individual Education Plan for students with disabilities or in special education.

Yesterday's meeting was an Annual Review, but the hubby and I brought up a change of placement for our son. We live in a district that has a strong inclusion policy in their approach for education for children in special education. This means that our deaf and hard of hearing kids attend regular classes with accommodations such as sign language interpreters and FM systems that amplify what is spoken in the classroom. We asked for a change in schools to allow our son to attend a high school with nearly seventy other deaf kids. He would still attend classes with other hearing students, but have access to his deaf peers during lunch and other activities. He would also have the option of taking several classes that are team taught by a teacher of the deaf and classes with deaf students. This is something that is currently missing from his middle school in our district. He meets with three other hard of hearing students three times a month in a group run by the school social worker and itinerant teacher.

The district team was very mixed in their response to our request. The Special Education person running the meeting was not supportive and indicated that our request was not the Least Restrictive Environment for our son and the district couldn't justify this placement. He's been doing just fine in middle school, they said. Frankly, keeping our son in a high school where he is the only deaf student is indeed quite restrictive for his social/emotional development. Academically, he will do fine at either high school, but he won't have peers that he can communicate freely with in group situations at the district high school. I actually broke down crying at this IEP meeting.

The district has decided to gather more information from us and our son via the school's social worker and determine placement on the outcome of that report. Then the team meets again to decide which high school is the appropriate placement. We'll be bringing an advocate with us and looking into legal counsel. Sadly, the outcome lies with the district and their interpretation of the law. I'm not sure how much our input will have an effect.

So at this moment, I have no clue as to where my son will attend high school in the fall or what our plans will be if they don't agree with our request.


Skye said...

How infuriating that Least Restrictive Environment, which is supposed to benefit kids, is instead imposed on them against their will and that of their families. Can anyone say "The pendulum has swung too far?"

Deaf Niches said...

There is a due process which you could pursue. You could explain that your son needs more social and culture experiences which hearing world could not provide.

Did someone from the high school with a strong deaf program come to the IEP meeting? It sounds like it did not happen.

You could ask for another IEP meeting and ask for the representative/deaf advocate to attend the meeting.

Good luck.

BEG said...

I wonder if it would help to bring several items to their attention: several states for example California have changed or amended the law to make sure IEP's consider the "least restrictive environment" for deaf children is NOT necessarily the hearing mainstream school The other item would be that story written by the interpreter who described the deaf girl she interpreted for, her profound isolation from everything in the school since no one else signed.

I hope it works out the way you want. It's maddening. I hate the way they think they know everything.

Karen said...

We plan to have the high school reps at the next meeting. I don't want to go to due process since the far majority of cases in IL that go to due process favor the school systems.

Karen said...

I brought up the states that have a Communication Plan-- unfortunately, IL is not one of those states.

There's a passage in the IDEA regs that works in our favor and we used that.

Dawn Colclasure said...

I feel your son's pain. When I first lost my hearing, I went to a mainstream school, and I was the ONLY deaf kid there. It was awful because I had a hard time communicating with the kids (this after JUST losing my hearing). Also, some of the teachers made fun of me after I asked them to repeat things (I had NO interpreters or ALDs, just my hearing aid). I was later transferred to a more deaf-friendly school. They tried putting me into a CSD but because the kids weren't allowed to speak, I said, "No way." I went to a mainstream school WITH a very solid deaf program for students. I was finally at a school where other kids were deaf like me! The teachers were VERY understanding and I was even provided with ALDs. The friends I had there really helped my self-esteem grow and I no longer saw this "being deaf" as a social roadblock for me. I did not graduate from this high school but I definitely cherish my memories of attending there.

W. David Samuelsen said...

Does Illinois have Parent Choice law?

Use it in your favor.

Several states has it working in favor of parents' decisions.

Kent said...


I feel your pain. I was a kid once and the school district refused to transfer me to a school with more deaf/HoH students due to similar reasons (LRE-wise) - As a result, my parents moved out of that district and placed me at ISD in order to address my social/emotional needs. I was able to attend mainstreamed education in Jacksonville while attending ISD. It is apalling that after 15+ years, the schools are still using similar excuses/mandates? to showcase their *cough* ability *cough* to provide services. To this day i am thankful that my parents made such sacrifices in order to advance my well-being. I hope that the honchos will wise up and realize that parents know just as much (if not more) than an educated admin who oversees too many kids to begin with. I'll be thinking of you and wish you luck

Barb DiGi said...

Hi Karen,

Yes, there is a passage in IDEA as presented by ASDC relating to LRE. In my school, we listed justifications that make a LRE for our students. You can use this as an idea:

After considering the regular classroom setting with support services such as related services, consulting services, a resource room program, services in a special class program, and evaluations, the committee has determined that placement at the xxxx School for the Deaf provides the Least Restrictive Environment for this Deaf student. This program meets the educational as well as the social/emotional needs of the student by employing a faculty and staff who sign fluently and have the ability to communicate with the student, providing full access to communication with the entire school community allowing for social opportunities and language growth, establishing classrooms and a general school environment modified to meet communication needs, direct access to the communication for peers and adults, adult deaf and hard of hearing role models who are highly knowledgeable about Deaf culture and issues, and infusion of Deaf identity, Culture, American Sign Language and Deaf Historical frames of reference into instructional plans, lessons and objectives throughout the curriculum.

Some parents who struggle with this similar situation opted to move to a certain district who has the reputation in supporting deaf individuals going to a deaf school. This system sucks!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about this situation. I suspect that they want to save money instead focusing on your older son's needs. Keep fighting. You are a fighter! Please keep us post how it goes in end. So the parents of Deaf children can learn from your experiences. Good luck.


groovyoldlady said...

Parents know BEST. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Deaf258 said...

I am borderlining on writing a very long rant concerning what you had to deal with, Karen. You have my deepest sympathies.

I think it would be better if I write or create vlogs about my experiences as a deaf student in a mainstreamed environment without ASL or deaf peers. I've been told by some ASL and Deaf Studies teachers that my background is important for education/interpreter students to study, know and understand.

You're more than welcome to contact me if you really want to know more in depth what my parents and I had to deal with in IEP meetings.

I hope the best for you in getting the necessary, top-of-the-line support for your kids throughout their education until they graduate from college!

Fidget said...

I HATE IEP meetings

with a fiery and all consuming passion

no one is ever helpful and they look at you like you are some freak and your child is the only one who has ever had this issue and they have no idea how to help you..


I hope you prevail

Celeste said...

Why not use the most nuturing environment? I hope that this comes out in your favor.

Juliet said...

Oh, Karen! I'm so sorry. This totally sucks, but I know you will keep fighting until you get what you KNOW your child needs.

Sending you a huge hug and lots of love.