Friday, July 25, 2008

A Long Awaited Answer

Have you ever been in a position where you couldn't plan ahead due to another's plans? That is what we have been going through for over two months now. We have been holding off on planning our vacation because of school issues.

School ended on June 12th and most families had already long ago made their summer plans. Not us and it isn't because I'm not a planner but because so many school issues were still left unresolved. I began the "bugging" process on June 13th (the first day with no student distractions.) "When will summer school be and for how long?" along with "When will our FAPT meeting be?"

The answer to the first question was "we don't know, you should get a letter sometime in the next week or so" and the next was "Sometime in August." I already knew David would receive ESY (extended school year from July 7th into late August, but knew we could reschedule the hours the teacher was to be with him.

Our summer school letter arrived about a week later saying I would need to go on the 23rd of June to sign David up for summer school and it would be two weeks long either the first two weeks of July or the last two weeks. They would tell me once I enrolled him.

Then the next day I received a phone call from the school that stated David would receive home bound summer school and didn't think I should need to enroll him on the 23rd. These were very conflicting messages so I contacted the head of special education...again...and asked him.

I finally got my answers about summer school on June 23rd. No I wouldn't have to enroll him and it would begin on July 1st, for four days a week the entire month of July. However, it wasn't until June 30th that I finally got a return call from the home bound program confirming and scheduling a time for them to come. There went June and July, the school year begins August 25th so we have a three window.

But there is still the FAPT meeting that has to be done in one of those weeks. If you aren't familiar with FAPT it's a different funding source that the school works with. "The Family Assessment and Planning Team" (FAPT) develops service plans for eligible youth and families and reviews cases funded by the Comprehensive Services Act to determine progress, prepare transition plans, and adjust services as needed."

The FAPT works differently from IEP in many ways but three very important differences specifically affect us. First, that they have a set budget for the year (no money, no services—even for a dire need). In special education if the need is there they must provide the service. The second difference is that without a parent there the meeting doesn't take place. And third, they only meet one day a week since they have many agencies that must be present at the meeting (social services, school personnel, court services). I have attended meetings where ten different agencies were represented.

Our need for the FAPT meeting was to fund the cost of David's one-on-one that needs to begin on the first day of school. We began asking for a FAPT date from the school in May. On June 13th I went to the school to request the date in person. There were two more calls to the school requesting the date.

On June 30th I contacted the school official and explained that we needed to know the date in order to schedule our vacation. I was told the paperwork was being completed and we should know "soon." July 9th I sent an e-mail again requesting the date. I received a response on the 14th saying "I'll check on it." I also contacted the individual at the school offices and was told she would check.

So, this past Monday I sent an e-mail to the school official and the head of special education and explained the history of trying to get this date. I then went on to explain that since I have tried to arrange our schedule to meet their needs and am receiving no information in return it was now their turn to work around my schedule. I gave them until Tuesday to give me a date or I would schedule our vacation and they would work around us. I received a phone call on Wednesday (hmm) with apologies all around. Since we have already been to FAPT many times and have well documented our need for the one-on-one there is no need for a meeting.

So I will be very busy finalizing our plans for vacation—Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. My husband's boss has been great about allowing him the time off on such short notice (since they are usually required to give three months notice). We will be looking for a rabbit sitter for Roger to check on him during the week. I have found a great deal at a great family hotel, a week for $460.00 (including taxes). The hotel has free wifi services so we can post pictures during our trip, so that we can share our trip with you. We won't be going as far as we have in past years (thank you gas prices).


Mrs.RGS said...

Kim, you are full of surprises for me today.
First you shock me by saying that your church works with "a home for unwed mothers." There isn't any such thing around here. I haven't even heard that term since 1970. I looked it up on the Internet thinking that maybe I've led such a sheltered life that I've been unware of these places even though I work in the social services field. Nope, we don't. Salvation Army runs the nearest thing that could be called an unwed mother place but it is in California.
Then, you go on to say that you are going to "Pigeon Forge". Now, come on -- there really is a place called Pigeon Forge? Well, I just can't wait for this. I've never heard of that, either. I'm going to look that up on the Internet now, too.
Are you sure we live in the same country? I'm sure glad I found you. This is going to be fun going on this trip with you.

Mrs.RGS said...

Okay, just so you don't think I'm the most ignorant person alive -- I have heard of Dollywood. When people from here go there -- they say they went to Dollywood -- I've never heard anyone say they went to Pigeon Forge.
I'm impressed with your tenacity when it comes with dealing with the school district. You are the one of the best advocates I know. David is so blessed to have you and Rich.

Kim said...

Rita, I must admit that the south has never changed the mind set from when we seceeded from the Union during (or prior to) the War Between The States. We sometimes can seem like the land that time forgot, but I like it that way. I think I may have to post some of my childhood memories. Growing up you think everyone's lives are just like yours but as an adult you realize that it's so not true.
I just had to say Pigeon Forge to whet peoples interest. I think it worked for you since you had to find out if it was true. When I was young it wasn't Dollywood, it was Silver Dollar City. When it looked like they would go under Dolly bought the park, made improvements and it became much more widely known. I remember at the time she purchased it many in the media made fun of her and thought it was awful that she had named it after herself. But, those who lived in the area loved it. It has brought so much revenue to an area that had always been depressed and people began coming from a much larger distance. She has now added a water park "Splash Country" that looks like fun. Dolly is still a much loved person in the area.

As for the school-thank you for your kind words, I have learned that sometimes you just have to get to the point with no frills or sweetness. When we lived in Northern Virginia I got a job at United Methodist Family Services teaching other adoptive parents had to be advocates. They had checked with a person at the school system and I was recommended. It was only a part time job and I enjoyed it, but it could be very upsetting when parents thought the school should "just do their job and don't bother me". I ran a support group once a month and often went to IEP and school meetings with them.
Just a funny note--the official I sent my last e-mail told David's ESY teacher that I had sent her a "nasty e-mail". What she didn't know was I had already shown the teacher the e-mail and she knew it was firm but not nasty. If she doesn't like the facts stated maybe she should have helped before it got to that point. I had also asked her all along if I needed to contact anyone else to speed the process. It will be interesting working with this next school year!