Some background: for three year-old kids with special needs, our school district offers the Early Childhood program. Ian goes four half days a week and it is a small group of special needs kids with a child/teacher ratio of 2:1. The next year, at four years old, the EC kids can move up to 4K, which is half days five days a week, if they are ready. In addition to 4K, which is all "typical" kids and a class of 25 kids with one teacher and one aide, the EC kids can also return to the small group EC classroom for the other half of the day to get more attention and work on particular skills with the EC teachers. This is what we assumed the plan would be for Ian next year.
So, at the IEP, we learn that the EC classroom is being cut out of the program for EC kids going into 4K next school year. The plan for Ian was to put him into the 4K classroom with about 25 other kids. The end. He would still get his therapies as usual, but all in the context of the 4K classroom only. I do want Ian to be in the mainstream 4K classroom next year, but I also want him to be able to have time in the EC classroom where there are fewer kids, more teachers, and more time to work on skills, as well.
Then, we found out that Specially Designed Physical Education is also being cut out for 3 and 4 year old EC students. SDPE is Ian's favorite part of school, and he absolutely loves his teacher. This teacher gets Ian to work like most people cannot, and we've seen so many gains in his upper body strength since he's started the program that the department developed for him. To find out Ian would miss out on this beneficial program next year in 4K was so disappointing.
After I sat with this new information for awhile, I decided that it was unacceptable to be cutting programs from these kids who need them the most. I looked up the e-mail address for the Director of Pupil Services for the district and sent her an e-mail explaining Ian's situation and my disappointment in the decision to cut these programs for him and other EC kids. She responded by asking me for my phone number and then we had a phone conversation in which she explained why she had made these changes. I disagreed with her on almost every point. She's never met Ian or any other of the kids in the EC program. She made these decisions without the input of the teachers or the parents of these children. To me, that isn't right.
The next day I talked to some of the other parents with children in Ian's EC class and asked them to contact the Pupil Services Director to let her know that they also disagreed with the cuts to the program. That afternoon, I received a call from her. She told me she had spoken to Ian's teacher and during their discussion decided that since Ian and the other EC children had been told they could have 4K plus EC classroom when they were four, they would receive that service. The same was true for SDPE. Obviously, I was happy about this news, but I was still concerned about the future kids that would be coming into the Early Childhood program. Would they be able to have 4K plus EC in the future? Of course, she wouldn't answer me and would only tell me what Ian would get, not any other children. I took that answer to mean "no", so the battle will still continue on that front, but it was definitely a win for Ian and the other EC kids going into 4K next school year.
It felt good to get a win.
|Ian's first day in EC classroom|