Yesterday was just an allover crazy day. It ended up being one that I didn't exactly expect to be stressful and turned into one that I was in tears several times. I seriously think that dealing with my kids' medical issues is SO MUCH easier than dealing with their school issues. We have 32 daily medications (a few are seasonal) at the moment including three kids on breathing treatments. We have had ten thousand doctor's appointments in the last month. And yet an hour at school can put me over the edge.
Let me rephrase that... Micah's IEP went great. He's really improving behaviorally! I'm very proud of our little man and I am excited for what this next year has for him! Unfortunately, that improvement in both behavior and health means they want to remove the aide that we had to work very hard to get for him.
"He's not gotten sick since his tonsils were removed." Was what was said to me, which was the main reason for the aide. "He got an aide and had his tonsils removed at the same time. There's no way to know if it's the aide keeping him from having the opportunity to get sick by keeping him from licking or the tonsils coming out keeping him from catching everything." That was my response.
Either way, his IEP now reads "small group" instead of "very small group" in most areas and the aide is being 'reassigned' to another more needy student in the class. One that they are having a lot of difficulty getting to listen, and he's being pushy with the other students and pulling a girl's hair. He's not listening, dropping down in the hallways when they walk, and won't follow simple directions. Why did they tell me all of that? Because it's my other son in the class... James.
This wasn't his IEP, so I didn't go into the need to address the behaviors (YET) but you bet we will be because James does not and will not get away with that at home (therefore generally doesn't try but he IS a very trying kid at times LOL) and we need to figure out how to wean out or replace those behaviors in the classroom as well.
That part really wasn't even that bad. Really, I knew James was acting up at school and the teacher and I have, on a quick level at the car, discussed this and continue to work on it. And here is where this post gets long... Just to warn you :).
The part that really got me going was right after that. The ten minutes at the end of the meeting while I was picking up the toys my kids had played with and distributing muffins to the teachers (I always come with food :) ) and getting ready to leave. The part where the guidance counselor said "I got your emails (from 3 weeks ago) and talked with who I needed to talk to and you just need to call your home-school to get the kids started in testing." Ok, that's fine... this was about Aleksa and Wesley and how I need to go about getting them enrolled for next year.
Then, through our conversation I learned that the school my kids are currently at is the only school in our area that has a pre-k, an assisted level classroom (which is what Emma is in) and regular-ed all on the same campus. There are only 2 other assisted level classrooms in the area and neither has a PreK appropriate for my boys. One used to send their PreK kids to another campus which is where my children go for therapy... I'd definitely consider that... except that they have no nurse on campus there so since the boys both have care plans with nursing... that wouldn't work either.
Why not just keep them all at their current school then? FUNDING. That's what it comes down to. The class that Emma's in is the one that *I* see as most appropriate for both Aleksa's and Wesley's needs (there aren't a whole lot of options...). That classroom was 'full' this year to students outside their district with the exception of students already placed there on scholarship. Emma is there on scholarship. No new scholarships were given for there. Add to that the fact that Aleksa and Wesley aren't eligible for the scholarship that Emma is there on because they haven't attended a year of school in our county already. So they would be straight "out of area" students which is HIGHLY unlikely to be approved simply because of the class size much less funding for special needs.
One more flame in the fire... this is NOT our home school, because our home school has ZERO services for our kids. So they would naturally send us to another school that from what I know abut it, I don't want my children attending. I also have a child that is in 2nd grade and has already been to 2 different schools and is currently attending out of district that I do NOT want to have to change schools every year!
And so, we have a nice big predicament. I wish that was all.
They then said "some of your children may test in the 'profound' category and the only school with a classroom for them is [on the other side of town]." By "some" they can only possibly mean Wesley because all of the other kids are very capable, and I do believe that Wesley is as well-- we just can't tap into it very well yet. Wesley will not be in a profound class. There will be NO TESTING available that will be able to adequately evaluate him. He's heard English for a month right now and has no expressive language in Russian. He is going to quickly lose his understanding at the same time as he gains English, but generally there is a time of frustration where a child is thinking in one language and hearing in another and life is just very confusing! Until at least a year down the road there is no way to find out what he is capable of. He won't be wasting his time in a profound classroom when he could very well be on target for his age with only an orphanage delay. Better he go to the 'higher' level classroom and begin working on basics and maybe find that he's just not getting it (if he really IS profoundly incapable which I just don't think he is) than be babysat. Enough on that though...
My my my... I wish it all wasn't this confusing.
Ideally, next year all the kids will be able to attend the school that 5 of them are at this year. Realistically, the guidance counselor said it is very possible that they will be at three different schools. Seven kids, in one house, 5 with very similar special needs (one typical and one with CP instead of Ds), need to go to three different schools?? And how, pray tell, am I supposed to be AT all of these schools, spread out across the county, to drop off and pick up my kids every day? (No, they are not all eligible for busing even at their current school and will not be at some of the other schools either)
So-- what is the answer? I have no idea. And that's what is so very very frustrating.
It's not like my children are that intense that they each need a super-specialized program! Two need PreK, three need an assisted level classroom, one needs inclusion with support, and one is in a regular classroom. You really wouldn't think it would be this hard to accommodate that in one place. I realize that our family is outside the norm. Most families don't have the family make-up that we have, and the schools generally only have to accommodate one special needs child per family. I get that. But it doesn't make it any better that they are suggesting (at this point... but of course there is much more to come) that my kids will be at 3 different elementary schools.
And I'm frustrated. Because there is no 'easy' answer. If it wasn't a funding issue, then I know they could all go to the school that they're in this year. If the class is full, and there are more kids that need to be in it, then ideally another classroom would be opened on the north end of town where several of the kids are being bussed from already. And if, through whatever means the school system intends to test Wesley, they determine that he's not 'eligible' based on testing to be in the assisted level classroom, then I would need to fight that as a separate battle.
For now, though, there is nothing I can do but go call the local elementary school that none of my kids have ever attended and let them know that I need to begin testing for two of my children to be registered for the fall in school. And I guess I need to figure out what needs to happen so that at least Aleksa is 'formally' being homeschooled this year. Wouldn't want a truancy call ;).
I know other families bus their kids all over. I know many have kids in three or even more schools (but not usually three ELEMENTARY schools-- I know that as they grow they'll go to different schools but they also won't be starting and ending at the same time and having all their awards programs and conferences on the same days....). And I know I'm not the first person to complain about school with special needs kids. I'm also certainly not the last.
There's my big vent about what has me stressed at the moment.
I didn't mind the throw up on my shoe, the snot on my shoulders, or the 32 meds that had to be administered yesterday. I didn't even really mind the 48 doctor's appointments this month. The only thing that comes close to the stress levels that school gives me is when we had unknown and potentially dangerous health issues with the girls earlier this month. (I called the ped this morning and should have the rest of Brianna's bloodwork results today finally!) And did I mention that my degree is in Elementary Education? Yep, I know the 'way it works,' I know educational law. And it still stresses me out even though I know what can and cannot be done. Maybe that's why it stresses me out even more? Because I know the loopholes that are used to put kids in where the 'system' determines they should be.
I know I'll get the comment-- why not just homeschool? And if you've been a blog reader for a month or more, you'll know what the answer is to that... How much homeschooling would we have gotten done in the midst of 48 doctor's appointments this month? Not to mention what it would look like to be bringing 8 kids under 9 to each and every one of those appointments. No, homeschooling all of them is certainly not on the radar yet, though some degree of homeschooling may be the only solution at this point. YES, we are homeschooling Wesley and Aleksa this year though :)
Time. It needs time. Nothing can be determined until we walk out the things we have to do beforehand. But I can guarantee this won't be the last frustrated school post.
And lastly, we love the school our kids are at. We like the teachers, the administration, the classroom set-ups. They have worked with us and been great about each difficulty. It hasn't been "easy" because it's school. But it has been pleasant. And I hope and pray it will continue to do so. This situation isn't that anyone is at fault. It is really that we are getting a bunch of "probably's" from someone that has no ability to say anything "definitely." If we need to, we'll go to whomever 'higher up' we need to to see whether there is an answer to this that just works well. But for now, we'll do one step at a time... and I will try really hard not to stress out about something that's not happening for 7 months anyway
On a good note, I enjoyed Bible study yesterday and am looking forward to the rest of this 6 week study on Jonah- navigating life's interruptions... I've had a few of those...