Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with Nathan. We hope you visit often and enjoy experiencing our son's journey as much as we do. Please feel free to leave comments.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

And So It Begins.....

As I mentioned in my last post, Nathan has begun the process of transitioning from Early Intervention, a County Administered program to the School District Special Education Administered CPSE program (Committee on Preschool Special Education). This transition occurs for all eligible children at the age of three and lasts until Nathan is five. However, Nathan is a very fortunate little boy because his birthday is in January, which entitles him to stay in Early Intervention until he is 3 years 9 months old, so this preliminary process is all about mandated requirements and a formality. Nathan will not officially transition until August 31, 2011 but we have to put a basic plan in place now. That plan is called an IEP (Individualized Education Program) Confused yet?

So, who decides this contents of the plan? Who decides what Nathan's needs are? It's a team approach ~ right now, the team consists of his current A-Team of therapists, his County Service Coordinator, Danny and I, and the CPSE Chair of the School District. This will change but these are the current players. We've heard nothing but positive things about the CPSE Chair, and we hope the rumors hold true, but if these past few days are any indication of what we're about to face down the road, it's going to be a bumpy ride for all of us.

As I mentioned, I've been visiting different preschools in anticipation of our first meeting and just this week I've scheduled Nathan for his psychological evaluation. Another mandated independent evaluation to determine eligibility and needs. In Nathan's case, its another formality. It's a requirement prior to the meeting, and as we've come to learn, it prompted its scheduling.

So far, this process has been smooth. I've done everything expected of me in a timely manner; as has Nathan's Service Coordinator and the School District. Until yesterday, when I received a phone call asking me if we'd been notified of the upcoming CPSE meeting in November? Ummm? No. That sort of surprised me but then our service coordinator told us she received it by fax, so I assumed ours was in the mail. I was going to send all of his therapists an email letting them know what I'd heard, so they could be prepared and to my surprise THEY KNEW ALREADY TOO! What? So, let me get this straight, everyone on this team knows about OUR son's IEP meeting but his parents?

This immediately threw up a red flag, and as much as I'm not interested in an adversarial relationship with the School District out of the starting gate, I'm also not interested in being the outsider on this team. We are Nathan's parents and no one knows him better than us. I decided to put a phone call into the Special Education Office of our school district to find out what happened. The conversation went like this:

Me ~ "Good morning. My name is Kandi Terry. I'm the mother of Nathan Terry, who is turning three in January, and we're beginning the transition process from EI to CPSE."

S.D. ~ "oh, yes." (she seemed to know who we were)

Me ~ "I'm calling because I've been made aware that Nathan's CPSE meeting has been scheduled for November, and as Nathan's parents and a part of this team, I'd like to know why we weren't notified of this information."

S.D. ~ "Well, we notified them of the preliminary date in case they have any conflicts."

Me ~ "what if we had scheduling conflicts?"

S.D. ~ "then we'd have to change the meeting...We only have to notify you 5 days in advance of the meeting."

Me ~ "I know the law says you don't have to notify us prior to 5 days, but you gave that consideration to everyone else but his parents. And, as Nathan's parents and members of this team, I think it's inappropriate to be receiving this information second-hand. We'd like to be notified along with everyone else."

S.D. ~ " Well, then we'll just notify everyone 5 days before." ( WHAT?!! NICE!!! This is what we have to look forward to? I didn't say this, but it was going through my mind. What kind of a response is that?)

Me ~ "I'm not asking you to notify everyone 5 days before, but to notify us, the parents of the child for whom this meeting is scheduled, at the same time you notify the rest of the team."

S.D. "ok."

Conversation over.

At this point, I'm expecting a letter in the mail notifying us of the impending meeting and if I don't receive it, I'll call back. I'm really not looking for a fight, but Nathan is our son and we ARE a part of this team and should be treated as such. I won't accept anything less.


Mairead Elizabeth Hickok said...

It's crazy, isn't it? So many bizarre and frustrating rules, protocol, etc, when all you want is to get a decent educational plan in place for your kid. That is great that he can stay in EI for so long. In MA, they are out the day before their 3rd birthday- they can't even go ON their birthday. It's hard because just when you have such a good system in place and things are working, you have to change everything.

I hope your experience with the schools goes more smoothly than mine is. It blows my mind how people who have chosen to make a career out of helping children can be so reluctant to actually help them sometimes. Good luck!

Lianna said...

Kandi, I say good for you for speaking up! You're right -- the parents should be the first contact especially with this transition.

Hopefully, this incident will not be indicative of the future.

Kim said...

This is frustrating. Yes, you may only get 5 days notice but as things progress you will have more of a window. The way it was explained to me by my son's therapists was they have a case load and can not drop service or miss so they need to find and make time in their schedules to accommodate everyone. If all the therapists have everything in order and all their systems are go, then they (School District) will make it an official date and let you know. The time frame is manditory 5 days but the sooner the therapists all give the O.K., the sooner the school can make the date and notify you. That means you can have several weeks. But do take comfort - this is only the first meeting. The scheduling and ironing things out for the first time seems a bit bumpy and nervous. It does get easier and better. All things will work out just fine. Email me if you want more info/insight.

Terry Family said...

Thanks for your reassuring words Kim! And, I'm sure you're right, once this process gets underway, things will probably smooth out. However, my schedule is no less busy and no less important than those of his therapists or other members of this team. Therefore, I have no intention on allowing the District to treat my husband and I as anything less than full team members.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kandi! I totally feel your frustration. Having already gone through the transition for Nicholas last year, I can tell you from our experience that you really have to make your presence known. If you can believe it, some parents don't even attend the meetings! Knowing our rights and exercising them, I ended our first meeting before it barely got started because the people who were supposed to be there weren't. They were none too happy. The best thing we ever did was to attend a class at the DSAHRC about transitioning to CPSE. Having that knowledge (armor)made it easier for us to get through the second meeting. We have moved to another school district in the last couple of months and the 'dragging of feet' by the prior school district has been nothing short of disgusting! They need a constant reminder that you are on top of things and your son will not be lost in the shuffle. If you would like to pick my brain about what we have and are experiencing, I would love to talk to you. Send me a FB message. :) Deb Habel