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."
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.