Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Organizing for School Meetings

Having attended many school meetings, for my own son and also as moral support with other parents for their children, I have found that the way you present yourself can determine how seriously they will take you. Even before my son started school I learned that I needed to keep all his records handy. (One doctor's office misplaced my son's birth records even though I provided them copies three different times.)

Filing System: Before
I have used a rather large notebook and took the notebook to meetings and doctor's appointments. I have often been able to supply a report before the school official was able to locate it in David's records.

I have also demanded that they include reports from doctors and testing that they do not require. The additional testing we had done helped get him services that would not have been offered so readily otherwise. I attend the meetings as if I am paid to be there, dressed nicely for the meeting and coming ready with files, paper and pen. But, my folder has become increasingly full to overflowing.

So I headed to out to find a filing box big enough to leave room for growth, but small enough to carry comfortably. After looking at several stores I hit the jackpot at Target. My new box is pretty (and oh how I love pretty things). It has handles on the side for easy carrying and even came with pretty multi-colored folders inside. We saw no price on the box or any of the other boxes on the shelf. In fact the price was not even on the shelf. When we tried to check-out, the employees couldn't come up with the price either. So they offered the box to us at $5.99! I had seen the folders alone for this price, so I snapped it up quickly.

I have spent the last two weeks organizing this new system, including a spreadsheet with the dates and a description of each document. I have printed this spreadsheet to include in the front of my box for even quicker retrieval. In fact, I am now ready for my meeting today at the school. I feel my attitude about these meetings has benefited me, they tend to take me (and my son) more seriously, and this has allowed him to get better services more quickly.

Filing System: After
On the other hand, I have been with another parent who attends the meeting when it is convenient. She missed an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) because her husband had taken the day off, so they went to the gym and afterwards went out to lunch together.

She called me all in a panic saying they had held the meeting without her and she was not happy because they weren't going to provide the services the mother wanted. She wanted me to intervene and get the school to schedule another meeting. I had to explain that I would go with her to the school and talk to the guidance counselor to see if we could straighten out some of the issues.

As we began to talk, I found that this was not the first meeting she had missed. At this meeting she was dressed in sweats and her general appearance was haphazard. The teacher we spoke with stated that she continued to send home notes that were never responded to. I had to sit the mom down and explain that the school was perfectly within its rights and would not be scheduling another IEP and in the future she needed to take these meetings more seriously.

If her husband was home the day of the IEP that would have been perfect for both of them to be involved. The school and she needed to work together and not as an adversaries. The school was really meeting the students needs, but mom wanted more than the daughter needed. Needless to say that was the last that I heard from the mother. I had already suspected this since her attendance and input into our support group was very low. She never did attend another support group meeting and never responded to our repeated calls to her.

So I will head out this morning with my new pretty box and fight for the needs of my son.

1 comment:

Mrs. Wilt said...

Good for you, Kim! God is most glorified when things are done "decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:40) Thank you for being such an inspiration. :o)