It’s IEP Season, Part 6

Stack of papers2For several days I pondered how I could observe in the un-offered classroom placement. I checked the district website and learned Mitchell was now a K-8 school. Back in 2009, Mitchell was still an elementary school. It’s where Katie had attended kindergarten for a few short months and been suspended eight times in a row, in violation of federal law. I didn’t have good feelings about the place, but I still wanted to explore this alternative for Katie’s sake.

I had a flash of inspiration. I called Mary, the Program Specialist, and said the moderate class had been mentioned by both teachers. It might not be an appropriate placement for Katie, I said, but I’d like to know what to aim for.

“Yes,” Mary said. “It would help us with goal setting.”


A few days later, she and I visited the school. As I signed in, I was filled with shame remembering how many times I had to leave work in the middle of the day and sign this log so I could take Katie home. In the reason box I had to write suspension and the memory left a bitter taste in my mouth. Walking the familiar hallways brought back more unpleasant feelings. Would Katie remember this too?

The visit was rushed, and the teacher barely acknowledged us. I had feared the children would be far more verbal than Katie, like Roberto. Some were, but some were not. I also noticed they sat for far longer than Katie could sit. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell if this placement was a fit for Katie or not, but my instinct told me it would be a stretch.

broken-pencil-schools-jpg_021534Afterwards, in the parking, Mary told me she has accepted another job and today was her last day with the district. Pam would be taking over. Of all the program specialists in my district—and Katie has had many—I like Pam best. I took this as a good sign.

I asked if Mary thought Katie could make the leap to the moderate class at Mitchell. Maybe because it was her last day, she was honest. “I think it would be a tough transition coming from Ms Nav’s class. She’s too far behind academically, but I think it’s imminently doable. In fact, I think it’s a terrific goal for Katie.”

“What class would be the best fit for getting her there?”

In a few days I would discover that the district was pushing me towards Mr M’s class, but I didn’t know that yet.

Mary looked sheepish. “Probably the second one.”

“Yeah, I thought so.” My instincts were serving me well.

I thanked Mary and we parted ways.

Now I was more torn than ever.

To be continued…

Until next time,

NOTE: If you want to read the prior posts in this thread, you can find them here: It’s IEP Season, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5.

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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