When the Director of Special Education Caught Me Off Guard
by Shannon Aronin on August 16th, 2015

​The countdown to going back to school is 12 hours away. Except that it's not quite BACK to school for my son as much as it is starting at another school. Just like it has been for the last 3-4 years. I used to joke that my brilliant boy was a pre-school dropout -- he was basically booted from 2 schools and was briefly at a third before kinder started. And then we moved from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles. That year didn't go well.  So when we checked back in with him again last night about the new school, he blew me away with his understanding, his desire for help which I know will drive him, and his bravery. Yes, switching schools until we get it right is frustrating, but he is the one who has to be the new kid again. I'm worried he's just not able to tell me what he's really feeling.

I'm telling myself this year will go better, I need to believe that. He's going to a small, special education school this year. In California it's called a non-public school (NPS). The school districts, when public school just isn’t going to work, contract these quasi-private but independently operated schools.  My baby will ride a school bus this year for the first time. Neither my husband nor I even rode a school bus. I think I'm pretty middle of the road in parenting style, but right now all I want to do is hover.

​So with all of this, I have a hair trigger with school district personnel. I do believe they mean well, and have been generous with services at least, but there was further conflict over the summer to get the tutoring hours he was owed because they could not truly give him FAPE in our opinion. So now we're at the end of summer,  and I need a promise from the school district that they will provide the required services as compensatory hours in the future. Further, we had not heard from the bus company with only a few days until the first day of school.

The Special Education Director is new, and I don't know him that well yet. But I had already had a hard time getting in touch with him (It was the week before school starts to be fair), and I needed him to know that I meant business! So I kind of went off. I assumed it was more of the same. I don't even remember what all I said. I know I didn't cross the line. I ended my little monologue, and for some unknown reason, the words that came out of my mouth, as if I was channeling Katy Perry,  were "and I am not afraid!" 
​It was his turn now. His first response was "Good! I don't want anyone operating from fear." Whoa. I don't know what I was expecting but that wasn't it. We talked for a little while and he seemed... Earnest. I started to soften. 

I didn't agree with him on everything. I was clear that after a phone call I will follow up with an email for documentation; if it's not in writing it didn't happen. This is not necessarily a litigious move because you do need record of what was promised in a meeting for example.

By end of the call I was cautiously optimistic. I said something about offering help, and mentioned wanting to look at a 2e (twice-exceptional) program with the SELPA. He asked if I would represent the district as a member of the community advisory committee (CAC). You could have knocked me over with a feather. We know that the most effective way to recruit a volunteer is simply to ask. I'm just surprised he would want to hear more from me.

My husband said it was brilliant. Instead of forcing my hand and creating situations where it felt like the war path was the only path, he wants to have me work for him and not against him. I'm taking it all under consideration, but it's a start.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with special education, non-public school, IEP, school district, advocate


Rykiel - August 16th, 2015 at 7:58 PM
That is quite brilliant, and who better!? It seems like a divine nudge and open door to me ;)
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