Warning: fasten your school bus harness. It's going to be a long, bumpy blog ride.School:
In ABC county, Florida The Student Assignment Plan dated December 18, 2007 and amended January 13, 2009 states the following:
"Starting with the 2009-10 school year, elementary students enrolled in ABC County schools will be assigned to their zoned school."
School Choice (our previous counties "plan") has been replaced by a zoned school policy. This includes the exceptional student population. Schools that used to be well-versed and equipped to deal with the physically impaired / exceptional student populations no longer exist. Previously, because we had schools who dealt with this exceptional student/physically impaired student population parents generally chose these facilities over their zoned schools. Consequently many of our zoned schools managed to escape this segment of the special education population. Occasionally, if a special ed kid wandered into their zoned school as The Teenager did 12 years ago the race by school staff to transfer that student to a more appropriate "physically impaired" school was on. The transfer was accomplished quickly. With the new zoned school plan those days are over.
I will admit I believe in the "inclusion" and "least restrictive environment" theories that push to put all kids in their zoned schools. Unfortunately, theories don't work when you don't have adequate funding, staffing, appropriate equipment and support personal to implement them. The classroom can become a dangerous environment for a fragile child very quickly.
So...when I picked up The Baby yesterday I made a phone call to the Administrative office regarding my zoned school which is obviously one of those schools who has limited experience with the physically impaired population and asked what they were gong to do about adhering to The Baby's IEP which the teacher still had not seen. There was no adaptive equipment. No adaptive PE. She had only had about one ounce of the special formula I sent and was covered in food as she had no assistance with feeding. The aides were pulled from the classrooms on the first day of school leaving The Baby's teacher with 7 general education students and 7 special education students and no help. Another teacher was explaining to a group of us parents that they had a roofing crisis and a mold problem and the aides were pulled...I never got the entire story because at this point all i could hear was the ringing in my ears as my blood pressure was shooting to stroke level. Still, I'll admit aide-pulling wasn't a total shock. Those of us who have been around the exceptional student education block numerous times already know that just because they are legally obligated to have an aide in the classroom doesn't mean said aide isn't pulled out for lunchroom duty, bus duty, mold duty or whatever "duty" pings around in the minds of those "higher powers."
Yesterday, within 5 minutes of leaving my message with administration a lovely lady I will refer to as Wonder Woman phoned me back. By 9:30 am today Wonder Woman had already been to The Baby's school delivering an adaptive chair, met with the teacher, the physical therapist and the PE coach, obtained authorization from her supervisor to purchase any and all equipment The Baby needed and told me she was delivering a Touch Talker in the morning to help facilitate the baby's ability to participate verbally. Wonder Woman bubbled on about my adorable child who was "so cute" (uh-oh) "and so eager to participate and alert and aware of her surroundings and she high fived me and was working with puzzles and..." When you run into someone this bubbly it's easy to tell if the bubbles are caused by genuine effervescent enthusiasm or by an accumulation of hot air gas. Wonder Woman was bubbly in the best possible way. I was speechless.
It did not show up on the first day.
On the second day it showed up well after school had already started. I had already taken the baby to school and gone on to work. The bus barely paused at our front door doing what law enforcement officers refer to as a "rolling stop" but Iris/Virus was waiting in the bushes with my list of questions and forced them to a complete stop.
Do you have the car seat on this bus? (I have had 2 foster children who have had buses show up with no car seat or harness even though it was listed on the IEP.)
Do you have the paper work so mom can designate who is permitted to take her off the bus, pertinent medical information and emergency contact?
Do you know The Baby cannot walk?
Keep in mind I specifically asked this question at the IEP meeting and specifically was told that they "would have to pick her up." When the wheel chair arrived they would amend the IEP and order her a handicapped bus. Apparently the bus drivers and the IEP team aren't on the same page as the bus driver refused to pick her up stating they could not lift or carry her up and down the bus stairs.
Before I even had an opportunity between my work clients to tackle this latest glitch in "inclusion," however, Wonder Woman had already gotten wind of the bus issue and began the process to correct it. In the meantime I will be responsible for transporting The Baby to and from school. This is after I transport the Boy to the other end of ya-hootyville (as my mother would say) to his school. All this and working, too. What fun.
Some of you reading this may think I have, "bad luck" or am "overeacting." Some of my OI buddy moms reading this have already fainted.
True example: This week on the first day of school my friend Pam's teenage daughter put her wheelchair bound non-verbal brother on the school bus which came to their house. Bye Bye James! Have a good day at school! The problem, you ask? It was the wrong bus. They took James to a school in the opposite end of the county. Pam received a phone call later in the morning. I assume she had some kind of identification on James for them to finally figure this out.
And you want to know why I won't put The Baby on the bus until they have the appropriate paper work?
For the first time in the boys lifetime time I am not worried sick about his school placement. He is returning to the school he attended last year which is a gift from God. I did have a moment of panic when my phone rang, though and it was his teacher. Did The Boy tell you how the first day went today? Yes. And this is what he said:
1.) Caleb (not his real name) had a "major meltdown in the morning but got his act together and was fine the rest of the day."
2.) "There are 3 kids in the class with bad behavior problems."
3.) "Mrs. Teacher had trouble getting Master X's shoes on because he wasn't cooperating so we told her to try sitting on his head."
4.) "I was the best behaved kid in the class."
This was all confirmed to be true by Mrs. Teacher.
For those of you who have inquired about Frank sadly he did not make it. Around the 4th day he seemed a little less lively and when I went to give him his midnight feeding he had already drifted off to squirrel heaven. Frank was a good squirrel and although I hate pink looking rat-like creatures I do miss little Frank. The Boy was sad. The Teenager, who couldn't stop gagging every time she looked at Frank, was relieved.
Sewage From The Bowels Of Hell:
When I came home from work today I noticed the truck 3 doors down....they're back.
Could this week get ANY worse?
A man interrupted my thoughts by yelling across 3 lawns, "when you go in your house can you flush your toilet 2 or 3 times?" I agreed to accommodate him but soon realized I was locked out. By the time I drove to Iris/Virus's second job, picked up the spare key, picked up The Teenager, picked up The Boy and got home sewer man was gone. I learned from my neighbor sewer man's real name was DAMIEN. A bad omen. And as predicted when I put a load of laundry in the washer demonic gurgling started coming out of the bathtub drain. The tub was filling up with sewage. The toilet was starting to overflow.
I locked the bathroom door from the inside and shut it informing the boy there would be no bath tonight as I broke out the bottled water to brush our teeth in the kitchen sink. Our tap water doesn't smell right and I have no intention of contracting Hepatitis A. The boy tells me he doesn't take a bath every night anyway. I correct him. You take a bath EVERY night. Well, not really he replies. "But I do get wet every night." Groan.
I am exhausted beyond belief. The Boy fell asleep immediately after his first day of school. His first nap in seven years. The Baby fell asleep sitting up in her high chair during her nebulizer treatment. Today one of my clients asked if I would attend her child's first IEP as an advocate. Oh God.
I think it's time for some family beach therapy this weekend. We need to sit, inhale the salt air, absorb the suns rays and relax. All the while praying, of course, that The Boy doesn't break his femur in the waves again.