Wednesday, September 3, 2008

For Children with IEPs and 504s

I apologize in advance if this post offends anyone. It is not my intent to offend but rather point out the struggles that parents have with school systems regarding IEPs and 504s. It is a fictional account to illustrate a real problem.

IEP Meeting
IEP of Johnny as requested by Johnny's Dad.
In attendance IEP Team - Principal, case manager, 2 random teachers, IEP Dad.

Johnny was born with no arms. Johnny's Dad has requested this IEP meeting to request that Johnny be allowed to use straws at lunch to drink his milk.

Principal "We are here to discuss IEP Dad's request to allow Johnny to use straws at lunch."

IEP Dad "Yes, we are having problems with Johnny getting his daily allowance of Vitamin D and Calcium and we discovered that he is having a hard time drinking his milk at lunch due to the fact that Johnny has no arms."

Principal "Now, let's not get too carried away here. We have an excellent system of making sure that ALL students get their daily requirements."

IEP Dad "But Johnny has no arms."

Case Manager "We are aware of that fact and we open his milk carton for him every day. He has no problem eating his food off his tray."

IEP Dad "But he can't drink his milk that way he can't lift it to his mouth. What about straws? Can he use a straw to drink his milk."

Principal "Well, he could use a straw but why don't we try something else first. Has Johnny ever tried to grow a new set of arms?"

IEP Dad "Why yes, yes he has."

Case Manager "But when was the last time he tried?"

IEP Dad "I believe it was 3 years ago."

Principal "Now we are getting somewhere, it's been 3 whole years. I think Johnny should try it again. Things change, kids change, Johnny has different teachers now."

All in attendance nodding except for IEP Dad

IEP Dad "But why make Johnny struggle with this? Can't he just use a straw?"

Principal "We can't provide Johnny with straws, it's too costly."

IEP Dad "Too costly? How much did the artificial turf at Hoover High cost? How many games are we playing there this year? One?"

Principal "That is not the point Mr. IEP Dad. If we allow Johnny to use a straw, we will have to provide him with straws until he graduates."

IEP Dad "Okay what if I provide him with straws every day?"

Principal "Yes, you might be able to provide him with straws every day but how is Johnny going to get along in the Great Big Wide World if he has to ask for straws everywhere he goes? Wouldn't you rather him put forth the effort to grow a new set of limbs? We want to see Johnny succeed. We don't want to baby him."

IEP Dad "I don't think providing him with straws will hinder his success in the Great Big Wide World. In fact, I do believe that just about everywhere Johnny goes, there will be straws!"

Case Manager (scribbling) "IEP Dad not willing to try to help Johnny to succeed in Great Big Wide World. Not open to suggestions of Team. Uncooperative."

IEP Dad "I will provide Johnny's straws at my expense. I will make sure that every day Johnny will have one available at lunch. I insist that he be allowed to use them!"

Principal "Well then. We will allow Johnny to use straws at lunch, at your expense IEP Dad, remember that. Case Manager, make sure you document that it's at IEP Dad's expense."

Case Manager (scribbling) "Got it."

IEP Dad "Great, that is all I wanted. I don't understand why it was so difficult for me to request that Johnny's teacher put a straw in Johnny's milk."

Principal "Now wait a minute IEP Dad. Our teachers are way too busy to be bothered by putting a straw in Johnny's milk. This takes time away from other students in the class."

IEP Dad "But his teacher already opens the milk for him, is it too much to ask that she put a straw in it too?"

Case Manager "Actually, it is. They have to eat too you know."

Principal "I have an idea, this may work. Mr IEP Dad, would you consider coming up to the school at lunch every day and opening the straw for Johnny's teacher?'

IEP Dad "Yes, I guess so, I will have to take off from work but if that is the only way that I can be assured that Johnny gets his milk I will do it."

Principal "There we have it. Case Manager write this down. Straws will be provided at the expense of IEP Dad. IEP Dad will then come up to the school at lunch every day. Johnny's teacher will then open Johnny's milk and IEP Dad will then remove the paper wrapper from the straw and hand it to Johnny's teacher who will then place it in Johnny's milk. Do you have all that?"

Case Manager "Yes, I have it."

Principal "Now, if everyone will please sign these forms outlining how we have helped Johnny today, we will adjourn. Thank you."

IEP Dad "Thank you."

The End or is it?

Remember it is the right of every child in Hoover City Schools and elsewhere to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education. For every child identified with a 504 or IEP there is money that is given to the system to pay for these special services and accommodations. Some may view it as a hindrance to the teachers but that is what they are paid to do. Teach ALL children. Not just the brilliant "easy" children. All children.

Stop making it hard on the kids and just do what you know in your heart is right. The kids deserve it.

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1 comment:

Heather said...

It's sad because it is true.

Way too freaking true.

You have no idea how close to home this hits our family and the situation with Kiddo's IEP. Then again, if you've been following the story on my blog, maybe you do....

Thanks for lending a clearly illustrative voice to the frustration of being a parent of a kid with an IEP!