Made of Gray

The ARD Meeting That Wasn't

Holly D Gray7 Comments

Today was Caleigh's first ARD meeting with the school district. I've been dreading it since the evaluation a month ago. I know for a fact that I wore Eric out talking about the possibilities of school for Caleigh. About 2 weeks ago we finally made the decision to keep Caleigh at home and for me, mom, to do the preschool educating.

The fact is that we still had the ARD scheduled and a room full of people expecting to start Caleigh in homebound services through the district. So this week I called and tried to cancel the meeting stating that we weren't ready to start special ed services. We were told that we couldn't cancel and the meeting will be used to go over the evaluation. Through my research we were supposed to receive the evaluation way before the meeting so that we could be ready. That didn't happen. Strike One.

We were also told that the regular PPCD diagnostician wasn't available during the summer so another one was brought in to do Caleigh's evaluation. Later, word got to us apologizing for how unprofessional the evaluation went and that they usually don't work that way. Eric and I had no clue what to expect out of the evaluation, but it didn't seem terrible. Apparently it was done incorrectly. Strike Two.

Last night, at the last minute, the diagnostician called several times wanting to drop by our house to have us sign something. She needed to send something to our doctor to have him sign stuff for the homebound schooling. We were visiting Avery and by the time we got home it was Caleigh's bedtime. By the time I got the message it was 9pm. I can almost guarantee that the doctor's office wasn't open then. Strike Three.

Three strikes and your out, right?

Nope, there's more.

This morning was D day. The ARD was scheduled for 10:30. Eric and I decided that we would show up and basically tell them that we weren't ready to start services. Thanks but no thanks. My mom was on her way over to sit with Caleigh while we went and I had just got out of the shower when we got a call from our vision therapist. Apparently, one of the team members had a family emergency and the meeting can't legally go on without them. Totally not the school districts fault. If anyone understands emergencies it's the Gray family.

So after explaining the situation to our vision therapist she apologized once again for everything. She had also found out that, No, we didn't need to go to the meeting just to go over the evaluation. All I need to do is send a letter stating that we didn't need services right now and that we will contact them when ready. Simple. Definitely a misunderstanding that I'm aggravated about. I've been dreading this meeting, stressing out over this meeting and hating every part of this meeting since first mention of it. If I was able to cancel it a few days ago none of this would have happened. We have enough to worry about right now. Strike Four.

You would think that this is their job. Not their first rodeo. Maybe other parents let it slide, who knows. What I do know is that I am fully aware of the law. I've been reading about IEPs and school stuff for months now. Knowledge is power but at the same time it's stressful. I'm just plain exhausted.

The meeting was canceled.

So why not send Caleigh to PPCD special needs preschool?

Well, I've been reading....a lot. Books about disability, education and independence. One being Disability is Natural and another is All About IEPs. Homebound only teaching was in the works per our GI doctor. He doesn't want Caleigh to attend school everyday, 2 days a week, 3 days a week or any of the other options the school district has tried to sell us. He wants the teacher to come to our home. Our problem with homebound is that the school district will only send a teacher out 2-4 hours a week. If she was in a classroom she would get 15 hours a week. After some research I found out the school gets paid for homebound attendance with a minimum of 2 hours per week of instruction. That's what they get paid for and that's what they offer. If you achieve 4 hours, you've won the fight so to speak. But who can be taught in 2-4 hours a week?

I was told that we would have the first initial ARD meeting to set out goals for the IEP. Then we would have a second ARD meeting after all the paperwork and red tape is done for the homebound schooling to square down those original goals because the original goals would be too much for the 2-4 hours a week. Unacceptable. Then there would be a third ARD meeting if we will be asking for any therapy services and basically I've been told that those probably wouldn't even happen and if it did it would be after a long fight.

Through our reading, soul searching and gut feelings we decided to keep Caleigh at home until kindergarten. No ARD meetings, no labels, no extras. Keeping Caleigh's intestines well by not exposing her. I've found some great pre-school curriculum home programs. Caleigh would get a lot more from us to prepare her for kindergarten than she would in the 2-4 hours a week the school district would provide in our home. I'm already nerding out over it of course. Caleigh and I went school supply shopping and picked up some Posters, letters, numbers and activities.

I'm excited about our decisions even if we took the back way to get to them.

Caleigh's 3rd year is set to be the best yet.
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