Or something like that.
This time around Katie was only suspended twice, for a total of four days, before she was essentially given the boot. I was told I could either keep her at home or the second suspension “would be extended.” I’m pretty certain a suspension can’t be extended beyond its original term, but since Katie would be at home either way, I accepted the inevitable.
The school calls this a voluntary decision. I call it pissed off acceptance and nothing more.
Oh, and Katie hasn’t been kicked out. She just “isn’t in school.”
As of today, Katie has been out of school for a total of 15 days. That’s three weeks of school. Federal law guarantees her what is known as FAPE—a free and appropriate public education—but clearly that isn’t happening.
Even when she was in school, her teacher estimated that he managed to teach her for roughly 30 minutes out of a six-hour day. “She’s not really teachable,” he said. “Not with all that behavior.” Behavior he helped to cause.
To me, this is an epic fail on so many levels.
So now my child is sitting at home, drawing on her iPad and watching Inside Out and Shrek. The mere mention of school causes anxiety nearing a full-blown panic attack. She’d been asking for months not to go to school, and finally the district granted her wish. As far as Katie’s concerned, she’s never going back. Ever. I, of course, feel somewhat differently.
As the drama was playing out in December and January, first the Principal and then various school administrators raised the issue of a non-public school (NPS). That’s more or less a private school. In the past, my district would have fought a NPS placement tooth and nail. I would have fought it too. I used to believe in the public school system, but this ongoing special education saga has opened my eyes. I’ve peered behind the curtain, and what I saw left me depressed, disgusted, and furious.
This time around, no one is fighting an NPS. The problem is, almost all the NPSs are full until summer or the 2016/2017 academic year. I have huge reservations about the few with immediate openings. There’s only one I would even consider—and it’s located in inner-city Oakland.
So I am now in discussions with my not-so-trustworthy district to develop an interim in-home program while I continue to visit autism-specific NPSs that should have openings in four to six months. Am I happy about this? Not really. Yesterday I learned the district “hopes to have something in place” by March 7th—a full five weeks after Katie’s second suspension on February 1st. And if I don’t like what they offer? Well, there’s always that school with the leaky roof in inner-city Oakland. Sadly, that’s a better option than the place Katie was at.
I have no idea how this story will end, but I can tell you one thing: it can only improve from here.
Until next time,