Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on Special Ed

This is the best of the local news reports that I have found about the Park View HS special ed teacher, Dawn Marie Hamilton, who was recently referenced during a congressional hearing on restraining schoolchildren. At the time that I'm posting this there are no comments on the article, and I hope it stays that way. The comments that I have read on other sites are not only cruel and petty, but markedly uninformed. I wish more of those who have made comments had been present for the Special Education Town Hall Meeting last night.

The meeting had an interesting format: 5 speakers (3 minutes each) from the audience followed by responses from members of the panel. The moderator was Mary Kearney, Director of Special Education for LCPS. I was third, I think - not enough time to get nervous. The purpose of the meeting was to address systemic issues using personal experiences, without violating privacy. Only a group of special ed parents would agree to or understand these limitations! The main focus of my comments was on the accountability of members of the IEP team to implement the plan that the group develops. I used examples including the lack of services provided by our previous OT and of course the fiasco on Monday.

Other highlights included numerous pleas from parents and grandparents of profoundly deaf students for the improvement of American Sign Language (ASL) that is taught in the schools. Many of these speakers were very knowledgeable and some were also deaf. Most desire to see their student attend Gallaudet University, but question if that will be possible with the level of instruction that is being offered to the students. Many speakers related information about their children with autism or autism spectrum disorder; there was a wide range of satisfaction with the services and evaluation of the services being provided for these students. There were stories where parental rights were clearly disregarded and stories of IEP teams where no staff member had a special ed background, so even minimal accommodations (preferential seating) were disregarded. Parents of middle and high school students indicated that they'd had different case managers nearly every year and spent much time re-inventing the wheel each fall. Some of it was truly heartbreaking; none of it was surprising.

Before I left, I volunteered to be a Special Ed Advisory Committee PTA Representative, a job that I think will be a good fit for me. I left, once again, relieved to have such wonderful dedicated people working with my son.

The Rest of My Life
Haven't had a chance to update on all the other goings on with our family.

Woke up Saturday morning with Ms Giggles asleep in her room, but the car missing! Her purse was stolen at a party Friday night and of course the keys were in it. ALM took her over to the party site where she found the keys lying on the grass outside, but no purse. It was the only set of keys for this car as Floggy had previously lost a set. So we at least got the car home.

Bake sale made over $350 on Saturday and another $100+ on Sunday.

Ms Giggles got TWO jobs and started the first one today. She's also been to the bank to get a new debit card and the DMV to get a new driver's license.

Little Dude's comment about both the Reading & Math SOL's, "I think I aced it!"

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