After our first IEP meeting in January 2015, Ms Nav never sent the consolidated goals. Two days before our next meeting, she sent an updated draft IEP but it only contained her proposed goals. When I questioned this, she said we’d discuss it at the upcoming meeting. I was puzzled. What was there to discuss?
At the meeting, Ms Nav asked if I still wanted the proposed goals from the prior year added. “Yes,” I said, struggling to contain my annoyance. Three weeks had passed and she was still asking the same question?
She then displayed the goals on the screen and we went through them one by one. About halfway through, I realized no one on the IEP team was making eye contact and their body language was stiff and defensive. We had all agreed to these goals a year ago. Why were they balking now?
After each goal, Ms Nav said, “Do you want me to add this one?” And I would say yes. This continued for over two hours until all fourteen goals were added.
Barb, my daughter’s reading tutor, suggested that the language “80 percent accuracy on three consecutive trials” be changed to “four out of five” trials to better accommodate Katie’s difficulties with recall. Ms Nav argued that they were the same. Barb replied that they were’t but it was a minor change that would better serve Katie. Ms Nav said, “I don’t care. You want it changed? Fine.” Everything in her tone and demeanor screamed that she did care—very much—but she finally complied with our request.
No one could tell me anything about the two middle school classrooms in my home district or the one in Pleasanton that was now being offered. (Apparently someone had taken me seriously when I said over my dead body….) So we adjourned the meeting until I had observed in the three classrooms and could make a placement decision. I reminded the team that after we agreed on placement, we would need to convert the services from one district to the other and develop a transition plan. Everyone nodded.
Afterwards I would ask a friend who works as a counselor about the lack of eye contact. He asked if I was wearing something overly provocative.
“To an IEP meeting? Are you kidding?”
“Then that’s easy,” he said. “You were making them do something they didn’t want to do.”
Adopting goals they had proposed a year earlier was something they didn’t want to do? What about the waste of time going goal by goal through material we had all agreed on previously?
“They were hoping you would lose your nerve or run out of time. It’s a standard tactic.”
It gave me pause that a school district would totally abandon academics simply because a child was transitioning into middle school. Although the law clearly states that IEP goals should drive classroom placement and must be individualized to the particular student, in this case school personnel had let placement drive goal selection. They picked generic goals that fit the placement they had available—regardless of whether they met Katie’s specific needs.
Later I would learn that at least two other fifth graders in Ms Nav’s class had proposed goals that were nearly identical to Katie’s despite the fact that the three children have very different strengths and weaknesses. Clearly in Ms Nav’s class, one-size-fits-all was becoming the norm.
Lucky for Katie, I hadn’t let them coerce me into abandoning the perfectly legitimate goals we had developed a year earlier. I’m sure other children are not so fortunate.
To be continued…
Until next time,
NOTE: If you want to read the prior post in this thread, you can find it here: It’s IEP Season, Part 1.