A parent struggles to convince the IEP team, “It’s not working. He needs something different. He CAN’T go back.” The parent is advocating for an out-of-district placement, a potentially costly situation for the district. Meanwhile, the district administrator is concerned about least restrictive environment, arguing that the student is making sufficient progress. For the parent, “sufficient progress” feels like a slap in the face. On the few occasions that her son even walks through the school doors, he spends much of the time hiding under his desk.
After implementing every strategy in his toolbox, the teacher feels stuck and unsure of how to support this student. Yet, he knows he can’t admit that especially now that there are attorneys involved. The conversation has shifted from “what can we do” to “what must be done.” The IEP, once a tool, has now become a sword. Regardless of any good intention on the part of the school or the parent, the fight now takes priority, empathy is in the back seat, and the listening at the table dwindles. Decisions have already been made.
Situations like this always have layers of concerns and many variables that for whatever reason cannot or will not be spoken at the IEP table. I just don’t understand why it has to reach this level of crisis. Isn’t there more that can be done to be proactive, to spare these already vulnerable youth from more anxiety and frustration?
Unfortunately, all too often students have to fail before they get help: the data has to show that interventions have been unsuccessful over a period of time, the student’s behaviors have to be disruptive enough to be noticed, or the test scores have to show just enough discrepancy to meet eligibility for services. By the time all of the data lines up just right, the problem has already worsened.
I refuse to accept that this is how it has to be.