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Jennifer Spears

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  1. Hello - my student has a placement outside of our district and his zoned school provides the transportation to the out of district placement. When the zoned school has a snow day but the out of district school does not, whose responsibility is it to provide transportation? Same question when the zoned school has holidays that the placement does not.
  2. What do you all do when you disagree with or there is an omission of a refusal in the PWN? I did see in one of the resources that the content of the PWN is at the discretion of the LEA so is it possible to specifically ask that they document a specific refusal on the PWN?
  3. I am a special ed advocate in a small town in northern NY. I have the school principal and the school special ed chair telling parents that they shouldn't bring me in as an advocate to meetings, that "the school has a solid plan, you don't need an advocate to "stir things up"." Has anyone ever dealt with this? Any suggestions for how to address this with the school administration? Thank you in advance, Jennifer
  4. Wow, so I don't even know where to start. My school district is in Northern NYS - we have a school District of 247 students (K-12), approx 20% are students with Special Needs. The next closest school district is 40 minutes away. I am a former Special Education teacher in a former life, out of Education for over 20 years. When I moved to this town from Nashville, TN I heard stories from parents who were struggling to get services for their child, IEPs not being followed, services being removed, etc. So, I took courses to educate myself in SpEd Advocacy so I could try to help her. I now have about 15 families that I'm helping. And I'm doing this for free. We are a small town and these families have been struggling and fighting for basic services for YEARS. I am the only advocate in the area and many of the families don't want "outsiders" who don't know them, their child, or our school to be advocating for them. These families need help and if it's not me, then they just won't get help and the school will continue steamrolling these families. I was supposed to have an IEP meeting today with a family. The child is currently in the 8th grade, at the 3rd grade level in reading and 5th math. In the "Extremely Low" classification for Visual Spacial, working memory, processing speed, written expression, and reading fluency. For the 8th grade school year, his IEP states his needs of: modified grade level work in all areas essentialized curriculum in all classes requires assistance with initiating or starting assignments supplemental direct reading instruction His placement this year was in the gen ed 8th grade class with a co-teacher in ELA and Math, Resource room for direct reading instruction, and resource room for essentially monitored study hall, reteaching, assignment help. His program modifications of "prioritize instruction in all subjects and assignments," "additional adult assistance" in Social studies, science, technology, ELA, Math, and other things like copy of class notes, simplified directions with multiple examples, reteaching, wait time, check for understanding, speech-to-text and text-to-speech, calculator. The parent received a phone call from the Special Ed. Chairperson 2 hours before the IEP meeting to give her "a heads up" that due to budgetary constraints the administration has decided to no longer offer co-teaching in high school. Her child is the only student in his grade that would benefit from the model and they just can't afford that for one student. However, of course the school will still make sure that they are offering consulting with the gen. ed. teachers on essentializing and modifications. So they will continue to try and meet her child's needs. We have been fighting all year to show through many examples of work that is coming home that in the classes where he does not have a co-teacher that there has been NO essentializing or modifications per his current IEP. The parent was told that essentializing in science this year couldn't happen because essentializing is "taking out the fluff" and there was no fluff in 8th grade science. So they have instead, used white out on multiple choice questions so there are only 3 answer options. Gen Ed teachers have told me directly that they have received little or no help or guidance on how to essentialize curriculum. So...I could be writing this about any one of my students in middle and high school. In most cases, there is 1 student with significant special needs in a given grade and we are constantly being told by the school administration that they simply can't do this or that for one student. How do I fight this? Family's have already tried moderated IEP meetings and that did not work or at best, the school put the words on the IEP but still did whatever they wanted in the class. The Special Ed Chairperson has withheld or modified progress reports that didn't support the narrative she wanted to share with the parent. And teachers will share this with me in confidence but they are reluctant or refuse to go on record for fear of losing their job if they are untenured or retaliation if they are tenured. The administration is TOXIC and have re-assigned SpEd teachers and aids in retaliation and they will do everything in their power to fight the parent and beat them into submission because they know most can't afford a lawyer. And if the family can, they will drag it out as long as they can to make the parent pay through the nose or give up. Please, I need advice. We are desperate. Our school budget is up for vote and their is a good chance that it won't pass. I would not at all surprise me if they cut the special ed department drastically to force the special ed students to be bused to other placements. For many that is at least 40 min one way and would take these kids out of any after school activities because the bus gets back too late. Thank you in advance for any ideas, suggestions, recommendations. Jennifer
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