Thursday, February 4, 2010

He's baaaack

Julio is back.

Not just at my school. Ohhhhh, no. Julio is back in my classroom.

I am so enraged over this entirely f-ed up situation that I can barely calm down enough to post about it.

Quick review. Julio has severe behavior problems at my school since kindergarten. By the time he gets to me, in second grade, his mother has decided that it's probably the school's fault, so she transfers him to another school. On his first day at his new school, Julio gets suspended. New school pesters and badgers Julio's mother until she finally agrees to have him evaluated. The evaluation recommends that Julio go to a self-contained, 12:1:1 classroom. Julio's mother loses it, refuses the IEP, and dumps him back in my school, where for reasons that are completely beyond me, they decide to put him back in my class.

There are six classes in the second grade. One of them is a self contained special education class with one teacher, twelve children (which means they're full) and four paras. One of them is a CTT class, with two teachers and a mixture of special education and general ed kids. One of them is a SETSS class, with one teacher, a para, and several children with IEPs who receive special education services. One of them is an advanced ESL class with a para. One of them is a beginning ESL class. And the last class is mine.

Let's see, should we put the boy with the IEP recommending 12:1:1 services in the CTT class, where he'll have a special education teacher? Should we perhaps place him in one of the two classes with paraprofessionals, so at least there will be another adult in the room with him? Or should we just dump him back in Miss Brave's class with 27 other students and hope he doesn't burn the school down?!

I get that his mother didn't sign the IEP, and therefore it's kind of like it doesn't exist. But, hello, just because the emperor thinks he's got a fabulous outfit on doesn't mean he's actually wearing any clothes. Julio was evaluated by trained professionals, and trained professionals think he needs the support of a self-contained classroom, and just because his mother lives in denial doesn't mean the rest of us should just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Let's be clear on the details here: self-contained class = a maximum of twelve students with one teacher and at least one paraprofessional. Our self-contained second grade has twelve kids, one teacher and four paras. That's five adults in the room, nearly one for every two kids. My class = 28 students and just me, or: a ratio of 1:28. Are you kidding me? How is this allowed?

No one -- and I mean no one -- gave me a heads up, either; I went to pick up my class from lunch (i.e., not even the beginning of the day) and there he was. They literally dumped him in with the rest of my class while I was at lunch, and no one had the decency to warn me.

I've gone from being fired up to being depressed. How am I going to get through the rest of the year now? And what about my rights and my students' rights and Julio's rights -- not his mother's?


jwg said...

You must be kidding! OK, I believe you. I have no advice, the best I can offer is sympathy. That and a sneaky suggestion to try and get a couple of your sharper and more involved parents to raise hell. Just don't get caught.

Michelle said...

UGH I'm so sorry :(

If she didn't agree with the IEP is she going for an impartial hearing? Something doesn't add up. I don't get how she can not sign and bring him back to your school/class.

I cannot believe that no one told you. Actually, I can. Nobody would ever believe this stuff except us teachers!

mcaitlin said...

i'm sorry dude :(

Capt. Schmoe said...

Ok, pardon my ignorance.
ESL - English as a Second language?
IEP - Individual Education Plan?
Para - Some type of instructional aid?

CTT - ?

I also must add that I think Julio ended up in your class because admin thought that you might not be as resistant to the idea as some of the other teachers. The fact that you received no advanced warning and therefore no time to plan a refusal strategy makes me believe they are trying to make it easy on them, not you or the other kids.

Good luck with this Miss Brave.

Cheryl said...

Have you consulted the union? A teacher in my district had a similar situation, and the union helped her have him removed from her class.

Sarah said...

That is so wrong. They know he needs help. They know a large classroom is not ideal. You did double check and made sure the secretary or whoever didn't do this? An admin person was behind this? Crazy! And I'm so sorry for you!

Angela said...

Whoooaaa, this was a shocker. I'm with Cheryl, check with your union about this, but I have a feeling it was perfectly legal. After all, Julio belongs to his mother, and if she doesn't want him to get services, he doesn't get services, period. This sucks for teachers but is the right thing to do from a parent's perspective.

I think for me the most appalling part is that your admin did not warn you or give you a heads up. I cannot imagine what you must have been feeling when you arrived to pick your class up from lunch and saw HIM. It would have been a mind-blower with ANY returning child, but with this one? Soooo unfair.

I do want to leave you with one word of encouragement. You are a wonderfully competent, caring, and loving teacher, and you do amazing things with Julio. If he has to go back to gen ed--and apparently he does--he will probably benefit more from being in your class than in any other room, anywhere else in your district. Seriously. It sucks for you and the other kids, but for Julio, it's the best possible gen ed placement. I truly believe that, because I believe in YOU.

miss brave said...

Regarding all my many acronyms and abbreviations...

ESL = English as a Second Language, although we mostly refer to those students as ELLs, or English Language Learners

IEP = Individualized Education Plan, usually for students with special needs

Para = paraprofessional, or a teacher's assistant/aide, often in classrooms with students with special needs...some students' IEPs require them to have one-to-one paraprofessional assistance, or a paraprofessional assigned specifically to that student

CTT used to stand for Collaborative Team Teaching and now stands for something else...I don't know what. CTT classes have a mix of 60% general ed kids and 40% special ed kids, with one general ed teacher and one special ed teacher. The idea is a collaborative environment where outsiders wouldn't be able to walk into the room and pinpoint who's "special ed" and who's "general ed."

SETSS = actually I don't know what it stands for, but it's special education push-in or pull-out services. There's basically a few different options for children with IEPs: they can be in 6:1:1 classrooms (that's for children who are severely disabled), 12:1:1 classrooms (self-contained), CTT classrooms, or general ed classrooms receiving SETSS services. We have a SETSS teacher who pushes into some classrooms and also does pull-out services.

J said...

i am completely enraged on your behalf and for my own sake will not say anything further. except, with three huge problem students having left my class this year (with plenty left to take their places), if one came back i would probably literally throw him (they're always boys, aren't they.) out the window. god help you. i am so sorry.

institutrice said...

At some point the school should be able to overrule the parents. Do you have Due Process there? Here if parents or the school disagree, they take it to court. I would say three years of wreaking havoc on your school is more than enough.

Monica said...

As a parent who's struggling with these issues, i can't help but feel some sympathy for the parent...i know that you have to deal with the consequences of her decision, but i also surmise that there must be some reason why the mother is resisting.

In our case, my husband is resisting getting an evaluation and insists that nothing is wrong.

we just got my son's progress report (he's in 1st grade), and although he 'tests' well, the teacher has added language that leads me to believe we're going to be forced to do the eval: "he doesn't interact with his classmates, doesn't respond or participate and they have no idea how he's progressing because according to them he's not completing his work."

Outside of school, he's a happy, engaged little boy, so from my point of view it's hard to see what the teachers are seeing. I work with him on his homework every night, which he completes. He's in a huge classroom (35 kids).

i should also say that he's in a parochial school, but spec services, as you know are administered thru the DOE.

If you have any advice on how to handle all of this I'd certainly appreciate it; probably, like this other parent, i worry a lot about dooming his educational life to special education and what that would mean for his future.

Does that make sense to you?

miss brave said...

Have you and your husband had the chance to observe your son's class? 35 kids is a lot for one class, and it sounds like there's definitely a possibility that what you see at home is potentially not what the teacher sees in school, simply because of the fact that there are so many kids.

You're obviously an involved parent who cares about your son's future and what's best for him. And I think any parent who's faced with that dreaded "evaluation" worries about what it will mean for their child's future. That said, I think all of us -- parents, teachers, society in general -- may need to come around to the idea that a child who receives special education services is not "doomed." The truth is, EVERY child would benefit from being in a smaller class environment with modifications, and special education doesn't have to mean "lesser."

I'm not a special education teacher, so I'm not necessarily the best qualified to give advice -- but I would encourage you to try to observe your child in his classroom environment and consult with other teachers and parents about his needs. If he does qualify for special education services, you are entitled to be a full participant in his IEP team. You are his best advocate -- and that's my biggest problem with Julio's mom, that she's rejecting the options she's been presented with but without acting as a true advocate for her child's best interests.

icebot said...

Thank you, Ms. Brave.

And sorry about hijacking the post. I know how hard it is for public school right now, and i'm also sympathetic about your situation, which strikes me as not helpful for anybody, especially Julio. He's not being helped by the school system or his mother.

Ms. Flecha said...

It doesn't make sense. At the very least, the school could have placed him in the CTT class with the mix of special ed and general ed students. At the very least, it sounds like he could benefit from a smaller class size! But your school admin sounds about as thoughtful as mine.