Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interactions with the School

So I've been trying to ask for a few years what the special-ed program at our local public school is like.  They wouldn't talk to me until we had Maggie evaluated.  Okay, so when I tried to make an appointment this spring for an evaluation, they first told me they couldn't even evaluate her until I enrolled her.  After my spending hours of reading statues and regulations and preparing to show them what their legal duty was, they figured it out on their own that I was right.  So we began to set up the evaluation.

Now I know why there are legal time limits on how soon the school is required to get this finished. 

It was weeks before I heard back after they mailed the letter saying there would be an evaluation.  I had to call them several times, asking why I hadn't heard from them.  (And if you know me, you know that I always wait too long, always give people the benefit of the doubt for their pokey response-times.)  Now I'm trying to make an appointment for a tour of the school.  And nobody is responding to my phone calls. 

If this is the kind of response (or lack of response!) I'm getting as a school-shopper, what kind of response will I get once we've decided to enroll a kid?  Don't salesmen usually put on their best behavior, their quickest response times, their nicest charms, when they're trying to gain a customer?


  1. You're forgetting that it is May. Schools don't do anything productive in May for new students. The teachers are thinking about finishing up this school year and how to deal with the current students-new students aren't in their mind until September. I called to get one of my sons evaluated for speech one year in April and he was finally evaluated the next February after many phone calls from me.
    Keep pushing to get it done before school is out because if it isn't done now they have tons of kids to evaluate once the school year begins so it won't be done quickly, then it will be close to Christmas vacation so it won't be done until next year.
    In my experience phone calls don't work. I don't know what would work or how to get their e-address, but I needed some paperwork from my son's former speech teacher and it took 5 months to come to me. The teacher said she kept forgetting to check her phone messages at school. Really?
    Also, in my experience, their preference is that the student is enrolled so they can pull them out of class and evaluate them when they have time-they hate having to make an appointment and arrange a time with a homeschool student.
    It's all very different than when I taught in the Lutheran school-many of the evaluations were finally done in May because we needed to know how to help the students before the next school year. And we wanted more students so we loved students that came to visit at the end of the school year instead of waiting until school was out for the summer.
    My son still isn't enrolled in speech after we moved here in November. I feel bad about that, but I'm happy that our state won't allow homeschool students to have speech services so now I am done with the public school special ed. system. I suppose I could push for my son's right to speech services, but I honestly want to be done with this system and try another route.

  2. I had a couple of people remind me that it's May, that the school year is winding down. But I started pursuing this (again!) in early March.

    One friend told me to remember "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" and to be very squeaky when dealing with the school. I think I'm going to have to learn to be more pesty, I mean, uh, more persevering. Another friend advised me to show up in person. I was going to do that today on errands, but I made one last attempt at phone calls first, ... and this time I got a real person instead of voice mail. Hey, super! Now we have an appointment to visit the school.

    I've been surprised: the parents I've talked to this morning say that the teachers and the other people at the school are very responsive, very good about staying in touch with the parents, very helpful for the kids' needs. Maybe --being a public school-- they aren't used to having people "consider" their school. I guess everybody just takes it without question. I guess, if you think you're the only game in town, you don't even try to woo prospective customers, even if you do a decent job taking care of the customers you already have.

  3. You are not a customer in their eyes. At best, you are a mom looking for them to help your daughter. More cynical staff will look at Maggie as an additional child to add to their already full case load. Overworked, under appreciated, so why hurry to add another child? Nobody in their system will hold them accountable for not evaluating her in a timely fashion.

    I sure hope you find the good and helpful staff soon. Keep pressing the point. You will stay at the bottom of their to-call list until you become too much of a pest to ignore.

    Maggie needs you to be a pest now!

  4. When we moved out this way, I looked at a Lutheran and a public school for our kids. The Lutheran schools were glad to tour me through. The public school? I couldn't get an appointment with the principal. Her secretary kept saying, "Oh, yeah, she's been in and out and I keep forgetting to ask her." Then, "But I don't know what you need a tour for. this is the school your kid goes to; there isn't any other." I said, "Yeah, there is. I could send them to St. Good Guy Lutheran School." You coulda heard a pin drop. Then, "Oh." Point being, they may figure you have to come to them for services, and they already take care of a bundle of kids, so, since YOU need THEM, you're likely to wait and forgive.