Friday, January 23, 2009

It has been that kind of week.


School holiday.


KayTar missed therapy due to severe light sensitivity. We got KayTar's wonky allergy testing results and find out her permanent special education teacher quit for personal reasons and they have no viable replacement. I was very frustrated to learn this because she will likely have a string of substitutes not properly informed of her variety plate of medical issues. I really liked her teacher, too.


Nothing of note happens. [calm before storm]


I received a letter from KayTar's school saying that she has missed 31 days of school and from now on, we must provide a doctor's excuse for each absence, even if it is only a single day. After talking to a few friends with school district experience, I decided to call the special education coordinator and find out if accommodations for this can be written into KayTar's IEP to save us co-pays and time.


I called the special education coordinator about the absences and she assured me it is not a problem, she would talk to the registrar and clear up the confusion. Then she called me back and said that because of KayTar's frequent absences she might be released from the program, because there are kids on a waiting list who would utilize the slot more appropriately. I reminded her that I was only calling to see if accommodations can be made in her IEP to facilitate her absences, since we cannot keep her from getting sick. She said she understood that she gets sick a lot, but insisted it would be better to have a child who COULD be present using her slot. That was the bottom line. Then, I lost my shit.


KayTar has been absent a lot. 31 days is a lot. 40% of the time, actually. I understand that is significant. I also know KayTar hasn't been absent once when it wasn't necessary for health reasons. She missed 15 days for her surgery and post-op recovery. The remaining 16 days were due to a variety of infections, all including fevers and some including vomiting. By the school's own standards, she wasn't allowed to come when in that condition. At the beginning of the year I spoke with her teacher about this very issue, she assured me that it is a special education program and they are understanding about absences and medical problems, as long as I send notes. I emailed her before every absence and sent notes after she returned. Only 8 of her absences did not have a doctor's excuse, because they were only 1-2 days absences that resolved before necessitating a clinic visit. As soon as I received word that it was problematic, I contacted them to rectify the situation (which kind of seems like the biggest mistake I've made at this point). I don't know what else I could have done, short of magically making her a healthier kid. She even had surgery this year to improve her nutrition and also cut down on infections. We've done everything in our power here. I don't think it is right that her education is in jeopardy because she is a sick kid. We've fought tooth and nail to get our sick kid proper insurance, I don't want her schooling to be the same kind of battle. Is it even LEGAL? It sure doesn't seem like it should be. Of course, it doesn't seem like it should be legal to deny a sick kid health insurance either, but by now we all know that isn't the case.

If you happen to have any information that might help, words of wisdom, personal experience, anything really...please leave them in the comments. This is our first year dealing with the school system and I am not well-versed in these laws. The special education coordinator said she would check on the next steps, the steps to pull KayTar from her classroom from the sound of it, and then call me on Monday. I want to have some idea of how to approach this by then. I don't want her to lose her classroom situation, the routine and structure and peer interaction are important to her. Her inclusion time is important to her. Her frequent illnesses rob her of so much already, I don't want them to also take her school experience away.


AJU5's Mom said...

I don't have any personal experience, but I would remind the school that half of her absences were due to surgery and recovery - a one time event. Have her absences decreased since then? You might have a good position if this is the case!

Christina said...

I was just thinking the same thing about the surgery absences - that was almost 1/2 and you have pointed out that it has already cut down on her illness rate.

I will pass this on to a few educators that I know. Yeah, this is so ridiculous.

Julie Pippert said...

That's it.

Now I'm REALLY REALLY pissed off.

I am sending this story out to some people who might have info/help/ideas.

If it's not wrong adn illegal it shoudl be.

Kids who need IEP/EI should NOT be on hold---we should have resources for ALL kids. You should not lose a slot b/c your child's special needs--the reason she's in the program to begin with--cause absences.

The threats and attitude? BS.

I'm fighting mad now Kyla and am going to help you fight as much as I can.

mamatulip said...

I wish I could help. I can't really offer any advice, since I'm not in the US and I really don't know how things work down there in the school systems. If it were me dealing with this I think I might try to start somewhere either at the school board or at Public Health, to see if they could point me in the right direction.

I really really hope that someone else - like Julie above me, for starters - can help you out and give you some sage advice.

And I am so so so sorry that this is happening. Not so much sorry as I am MAD. I can't believe it, and when I think about what you've already fought for with insurance, the thought of you fighting another battle on K's behalf puts me close to tears.

Woman in a Window said...

This is a regular school? Pardon, but WTF? She is entitled to an education. What does it really matter to them whether she is able to be there or not? It's her right. I'm afraid all I can do is repeat myself and sputter a lot. I think having Julie Pippert on your side will get you a lot further than this Canadian being pissed on your behalf.

Anonymous said...

Damn. I wish I did know something to help. But I'm mad on your behalf, too. Really mad.

Lee Laughlin said...

Ok, I'm sorry to say this, but get used to it. Your fighting has just begun, especially in your state.
Remember the lion you found inside yourself to fight for Kaytar's insurance, you're going to need a bigger one for the school system. I'm sorry to say it Kyla, but your child is going to be expensive to educate. That means although they'll never blatantly say it, the schools will do everything they can NOT to have your child in their their programs.
She has clearly demonstrated that she is a bright girl and can be educated. DO NOT BACK DOWN (I know you won't :)
They can not suspend services without a meeting and documentation to support their position. I'll reach out to two professionals I know and see what I can find out.
If you haven't already, get yourself a notebook and start documenting every communication you have with them.
As hard as you are going to have to fight for what you want, I have found it helps to remember that I am dealing with regular people. They are not out to hurt my kids per se (both of my kids are on IEPs), but they are being hammered to keep costs to a minimum. To that end, I bring brownies and a big smile to every meeting we have. I have gained a reputation in the district already (and my daughter is only in 3rd grade) I compromise where I can, but they know they are accountable to me and I politely let them know when they have dropped the ball.
I'll get back to you or have them contact you directly. Feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Brigid Keely said...

You are in close email contact with your pediatrician, right? Can you phone her office when Kaytar is ill but doesn't need a clinic visit, and have them fax over a note to the school saying that she is ill (fever, vomiting, etc) without you having to pay a copay? It sounds like you already have a good working relationship with your pedi and her office. They may be willing to provide you with official notes without you physically coming in (and exposing an already sick kid to even more germs).

TDR said...

Learn the terms FAPE and IDEA from that website and see how they apply to your situation.

You should have a state ombudsman in Special Ed who can help mediate with the school district if it has to come to that. Go to your school district website and find out their name and contact their office. If it's not on the school district's website go to the website for the State Superintendent of Ed.

Other resources: IEP advocates (contact local special needs groups for referrals)....a good lawyer.

natalie said...


I'm trying very hard to breath deeply through my nose as I respond to this post.

How in the world can this PUBLIC school system deny ANY child an education?? Why are all those children on the waiting list NOT ALREADY IN SCHOOL???? Why are THEY being denied services to begin with. Your tax dollars are paying for public education FOR ALL CHILDREN. (deep breathing, deep breathing)

Were you told at the beginning of the year that excessive absences would result in removal from this "elite, only select children are allowed in" program? In GA, if a parent writes a note, the absence is excused, no questions asked. If a note is sent in from the doctor, there is never a problem. It's "almost" like that absence didn't take place. As long as a note is presented to me, I am REQUIRED BY LAW, to give that child the opportunity to make up any missed work, etc, etc, etc. We do have a policy of 10 unexcused absences in one year MIGHT result in a retention (we're talking reg. ed. kids here), but if the parent sends in a note, we excuse the absence. In 9 years of teaching, I've never had a child retained because he/she was absent too often.

When you hear from the coordinator Monday, I'd raise hell and raise it loud. I'd look up every single law about absenteeism in TX, I'd read every single paper they sent home to see if you had previous notification of this and I'd threaten to call the news, talk to the newspaper, write letters to your school board.

I do understand, on one hand, wanting children to be at school to make good use of resources (who doesn't understand that?), but to threaten to remove a child who has had major surgery to improve her health (resulting in half of her missed days) is the most heinous abuse of power I've heard.

I guess I really have two questions:
1.) Why is there a waiting list in the first place? Why are there some children not recieving the services they need?
2.) Prior to receiving the letter, did you know about an attendance policy related to being placed in this program? What if KayTar was in 1st grade? Would they just kick her out of school for her days missed?

I'm shipping a case of wine to your house, my friend.

And some boxing gloves.

Anonymous said...

According to IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act), she is entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). All of the kids that are entitled to special ed should be receiving it; a waiting list for public special ed services is way out of legal compliance. The closest that the school could come to denying her services (even through Early Intervention services) due to excessive absences is recommending homebound services, but that is an IEP committee decision, and YOU are a voting member of that committee, which has to come to consensus. Sounds like your school district needs a little legal refresher course. Hang in there.

Kyla said...

To answer a couple of questions:

She's had 7 absences since her surgery.

This was absolutely the FIRST communication I've received regarding absences in any form or fashion. And at the beginning of the year this subject wasn't broached at all, even when I specifically asked about it.

She attends a regular public elementary school in our district.

I know our pediatrician will work with us on the notes for absences portion if they stick to that and don't allow us to modify the IEP, but it has completely jumped from that initial problem to something else entirely (her possibly losing her classroom placement).

Lee Laughlin said...

Wrightslaw! Thank you. I was racking my brain trying to remember that. It is a great resource, dense at times, but Kyla if you can memorize bacteria, you're all set.

FYI, for those who asked about the waiting list. Kaytar is in a public pre-school program (I'm guessing based on her age). Pre-school is not mandated by law, and as such it is up to each district to determine if they will even offer a pre-school program and, which children are served by by those programs. That is why there is a waiting list.

Typically those children who are at greatest risk for falling behind or those who will benefit the most (i.e. possibly even move out of special ed classification with enough early therapy) are the students selected for pre-school programs.

I bet with some research Kyla could locate another pre-school program that would take Kaytar on an "as able basis". Of course there would be a cost associated with a private pre-school as well as a cost for delivering the therapies that Kaytar needs at a non-district location and since those therapies are tied to goals written into KayTar's IEP, the district would be out of compliance if they pulled KayTar from their program, and failed to provide a suitable alternative; so they'd have to pay for KayTar to attend the private program.END SPECULATION

No district wants to pay for programs it is already offering internally.

No district wants to be caught out of compliance with Federal Mandates.

Of course if the district doesn't have a properly trained and certified special education teacher, they might already be out of compliance. (I do not know this for sure, but it is food for thought).

As noted by another commenter no changes can be made to the placement without approval from the IEP team of which Kaytar's parents are members.

IEP Team meetings in my state require 10-days prior written notice (which can be waived by the parents, but not the district).

When we convene IEP meetings for my kids, we are only juggling 5 schedules (classroom teacher, teacher of the visually impaired, SPED coordinator, and two parents) we it typically have to plan six weeks out to get a date and time where everyone can attend. My point being that this is an exceptionally S L O W process.

Don't let them scare you Kyla.

Anonymous said...

I was sent here via another blogger. I work in the schools and have been involved in special education. While states may vary, they do have to follow federal IDEA laws. I'm almost positive in the regs. there is a "stay put" reg. that basically says during an appeal the child must "stay put" in their current special education program, following the current IEP. What you are discribing sounds illegal from that aspect of the law.

If you are not already familiar with it, check out Just saw this mentioned. It's an excellent website on special education laws for parents. Also, special ed preschool is mandated by IDEA which covers from age 2-21. I can't be sure of the latest versions of the regs, but would think this would still be true, esp. is she has an IEP, which is a legal document.

I also agree with another poster, find an advocate, or check with your state DOE about it. Good luck!

Amy Y said...

This is so tough... I don't have any personal experience to share but it seems like you have some really savvy readers so my .02 is probably irrelevant.

I'll just say that to me, it sounds incredibly unfair at best and illegal at worst. I hate that you have to fight yet another battle...

Hope there's a good solution out there somewhere for you.

mommamia said...

When a Commenter said you will fight to get her educated that is very, very true in this State.

This is a website that has Texas Special Education Rules on it. I have used it often along with IDEA.

Document everything. If at all possible communicate with them via email or written correspondence, Keep a copy of everything.

In Texas there is a number of days she must attend school. The exception to this rule is either attendance is waived in her IEP or she has a Dr's excuse for her attendaces that exceed the required number of days for the semester.

Legally they cannot remove her from the district without a committee meeting. You are a voting member of that committee and you have the right to appeal their deceision all the way to State Board of Education. She was excepted on an IEP and she has to be released on an IEP.

If I were you I would request an emergency ARD on Mon. They have 10 days to respond to you. Request in writing and state the reason for the request: To discuss Kaytar's attendance. Send it to Kaytar's teacher, the head of special ed and the principal. If you not hear anything within the time limit contact your district's special ed office.

I have a friend who is an advocate in San Antonio. If you need further help I'll contact her for you just let me know.

mommamia said...

Here is another website that I think will help.

The district has to prove that her absences have nothing to do with her disability. If her IEP says she is other health impaired or list her eating disorder there hands are tied. They must hold a committee meeting before anything can be done.

mommamia said...

This is the 2nd website. Sorry I gave you the first one twice.

Anonymous said...

Is KayTar in PPCD? My experience has been with K-2nd grade. Here's what I remember off the top of my head:

I assume you've read her IEP? If not, that's your first step. If there's something you don't understand (language about compensatory services, for example) find someone who does. Also, read your "Guide to the ARD Process" (probably available on your district's website...or from the TEA) and/or a Policies and Procedures manual. Or sic your husband on those if he's of a mind to help out. :)

They can't do anything without an ARD. They can hold an ARD without you, though. If they call one before you do (thus the urging to do it Monday!) they are required to consider rescheduling if you can't be there...but they don't have to reschedule. They can change her placement without be available. If you do go and they decide to change her placement anyway, DO NOT SIGN the declarations page (or sign "disagree") and then invoke STAY PUT. They have to keep her where she is until the team reaches an agreement. After that, you ask for arbitration. I don't know if you actually have to file due process in order to get an offer of arbitration from the district...find's probably in one of the manuals.

The comment about the brownies is a good point. Be visible at your school. Be VERY visible. My husband and I attend every single ARD...even ones where they say they're only going to change one sentence and we don't need to be there. Uh huh. I'm on the board of the PTO. I go on every field trip. I eat lunch in the cafeteria with my son's class every so often. We help with hearing and vision screenings. Both my husband and I have volunteered in the school library weekly. We are right in the middle of the fundraisers. Every administrator, teacher, paraprofessional and custodian knows who our son is. And they like us. It's a win-win.

Good luck!

Chaotic Joy said...

Oh Honey. I have no advice, no resources. But I can feel your frustrations in this and I am so sorry. Can't anything be easy for your girl?

flutter said...

oh honey

painted maypole said...

oh crap. no words of wisdom. just prayers and wishes for it to smooth out...

Kim said...

Pretty sure they can't deny her education--hear of such a thing as No Child Left Behind? You have received some great advice concerning your state's policies and I say, follow that advice and get ready to fight! Like another poster has mentioned, Kaytar is expensive and they will try anything they can to get by with providing as little as possible--she is right also in the fact that your fight has just begun. Is this right or fair? No. But sadly it is what it is--the bottom line is always the bottom dollar.
*hugs to you--you are a strong mama and I know you will see this through*

Anonymous said...

The best thing you can do is search the internet high and low (for sure all of the sites already mentioned above) and educate yourself. Schools are notorious for NOT knowing the law. They may know district policies but they, most likely do not know state and federal laws as they relate to special ed students and their rights. They think they know and they will spout off what will happen, in an attempt to just get rid of you. Don't let them. Know your shit! Don't let them toss you aside. They can't. And what they CAN do, is a very, very slow process. Everything has time limits that have to be observed.

So get busy on the internet.

Find and advocate or a lawyer.(There are organizations that will provide you with legal counsel on a sliding scale -or free-).

All my years teaching, I have learned that a well informed parent will always succeed against the school. But be informed and do not let them scare you.

angiesarman said...

Kyla, I am not sure if all of this is being handled over the phone, but if you have the ability, you need to make your presence known, in person.
Go to the school, speak to the principal. If need be, go higher up. Threaten with the media if they deny her. Do not take NO for an answer.


Anonymous said...

"According to IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act), she is entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). "

I know we've already talked about this, but I wanted to comment on what previous poster said above.

Remember, the term "appropriate" has an insanely wide definition. That is THE term that kept the school district from agreeing to place Jakie where we saw fit...they have to do what is 'appropriate' but not what is BEST. Big difference.

I hate this for you so much Kyla. Largely because I know how hard it is to fight a fight that should never exist in the first place. Education should be the LAST thing you worry about with Kaytar, but until the educational system meets a parent's standards, that just isn't going to happen.

So brace yourself, like you've done a hundred times before and jump in with both feet.

Much love my dear dear friend!

InTheFastLane said...

I am so sorry that you are having to gear up for another fight. You have gotten a lot of good information from people in your state. Let me know if there is anything else you would like me to find out. I do wonder, since my experiences are in the K-12 sector, if there is a difference in the preK services.

Anonymous said...

Advocating for a sick child is frustrating, painful, and requires a time commitment that removes your attention from directly caring for your child. I do believe that the school system in which she attends has provided many programs for the diverse needs of its students, but they have been impacted by lack of federal and state funding, as well. So, the question to work with the school system,using the resources you both have, to make this a win-win for your adorable daughter. I have read the comments of others on your blog and they have provided websites for review of the law and helpful resources. While I am not an expert on special education programs, I can perhaps help in understanding some of the system. Julie has my cell phone number and I have asked her to provide it to you since I don't have your email address or phone number. I would like to talk with you, and let's see what we can come up with. I am a retired public education educator who believes all children should be provided a free and appropriate education. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Laura Ewing

Bea said...

Start trying to find a lawyer with experience in this area NOW. It can make a world of difference. It sounds like you're getting some good advice here. This is WRONG, and it sounds like you are in a strong legal position to put a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I have no time to read the other comments and hate to be redundant! But it's a CLEAR violation of FAPE, which is federal law. There should be no such thing as a waiting list if it's a public institution, that is also a clear violation of federal law. They have not a leg to stand on. Have you found any advocates? You can ask the school to put you in touch with parent advocates, usually there are parents who are trained in this stuff and the schools keep their names on file. If not, start with your state board of education and see if they have a list of advocates that work with you. An advocate can always point out specific pages of the law to highlight and take to your meetings, they can also go to meetings with you. Most of them work for free. Make sure you keep notes/records on every single interaction with the school personnel from this moment forward. I'd also make a record of all communications you've had up till this point. If you send them any letters (snail mail) be sure to make sure they sign for it and you get a receipt. Otherwise they can and will pretend they never received it. Not that you can't handle this on your own, but when you show up with an advocate that is trained in the law they will know that you mean business and they should back down. They're probably (mistakenly) thinking that they can intimidate you, it works with most parents. But they don't know who they're dealing with!!

Beck said...

Is there a local school adminstration board? I'm not certain how American schools are structured, but if you go higher up in the school heirarchy, you might have better luck.
And you could always threaten to go to the media, too. Schools HATE that.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Looks like you got some great info here. I have nothing additional to suggest. But. I am sorry you have to fight this now, too. Your situation is ridiculously unfair from all angles.

~aj~ said...

You already know my thoughts on all of this, but I just have to say I'm blown away at all the support you've already gotten and I know more is sure to come. What awesome readers and friends you have!

I wish I were more knowledgeable in this area and knew how to help fight the fight with you. I support you 100% and wish I were there to offer a shoulder a lean on.

knittingwoman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyla said...

Because she has an IEP, she IS covered by IDEA and the other special education laws. When children turn 3, they are released from ECI and put into the public school system and they are required to continue services and education if the child has an IEP. It is preschool, but not the same as optional preschool or private preschool.

Anonymous said...

My mom (a special ed admin in MO) says: "the district will do what they can to find a suitable replacement for the teacher; if they believe that their daughter is not receiving the services she should be--that are in her IEP--then they could file a child complaint with the state department of education"

jeanie said...

Do you think perhaps the teacher having a few issues and resigning might be connected with the heavy handed way they are handling this.

Sorry you have to go to bat AGAIN for K to get her basic rights - you gotta thank the big guy that he gave her a mother with such strength.

Attagirl - we all support you.

Oh - and my word verification is "destoni" - I think so too.

Mad said...

What the hell? Seriously, what in sam hell is going on here? How can they even suggest taking away her access to education AND DEAR SWEET POWERS THAT BE why must you be put on the defensive and forced (yet again) to fight for what should be your right?

kittenpie said...

I can't even... well, I can't imagine how you handle this stuff, Kyla, because I'm having a hard time typing between shaking my fists at the sky, and it's not even my kid. Look further, though, there is no way that can be legal, especially with an IEP in place explaining her situation and needs and with one large block of absence explained by SURGERY, for goodness' sakes. I hope you can find some help for this, too. If not, you can always offer to go to the media with it - they should know by now you're willing!

Tara Bennett said...

I have no personal experience, but I do know that mom's know best. Just trust your own instincts. Of course education is important. But OF COURSE health comes first! You're doing what is best and that is all that matters!

sheree said...

I hope you can get this all sorted out Kyla. I hate that you have to even investigate this. It's just ridiculous.


Momo Fali said...

This doesn't sound legal. I know I missed 45 days of school one year because of asthma, and it wasn't an issue. My son has a lot of health problems and has missed many days this year (I've lost track, but most recently he missed all of last week and one day this week due to illness and surgery) and they have never said it was a problem. Just the opposite, in fact. This is wrong. Just wrong.

Stimey said...

Here from the Bloggess. I have a kid with an IEP and we just had to take in an attorney and an educational consultant to get him the services he needs. So I sympathize, oh I sympathize.

I don't know anything about your situation really, but it doesn't seem that it would be legal to kick your child out of school for medical reasons, which is really what they're talking about doing here. I would say that you should go over her absences and try to remember why she was out for each of them. If you have copies of notes to the teacher or doctor's records, organize them. Remember that her IEP is a legal document that they must comply with. Maybe research names of some local attorneys or advocates who might be able to help if it comes to that (check and Wrightslaw).

Hang in there. You're in the right here. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a federal law, state law, local budget fight. You probably need a lawyer who is familar with IDEA (Individuals with disabilities act.) Thar's assuming that you can't get a solution without going to lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I really don't have any advice. My son's early childhood program requires a note that we have seen the doc and a note he can come back for the serious diseases. Can they provide a home tutor for her absences? Can the doctor write a letter documenting her medical issues, if one has not been done? Its not like you're keeping her home for no good reason (like a few people I know did with their kids)
I would point out the surgery was half of the days. And find out what legal channels you can take in your state. In Illinois, we can take the issue to an arbitrator if we feel the school district has been unfair.

Harley said...

Hey, I'm 22, have no children and live in Ireland so I'm not much use, but just to say that I heard about your story and think it's an absolute disgrace. I wish you the best of luck and lots of fighting spirit to keep you strong! xxx

Kim said...

At every IEP meeting the district is required by federal law to give you a copy of your rights as a parent and explain them to you. Know these backwards and forwards and take THEIR copy of it with you. Refer to your rights in THEIR document.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the other comments, but I work in admin at a school. One of the problems here is funding. They receive funding based on average daily attendance. A child gone that much really does have an impact on their numbers. The get less money but still have to provide your daughter an education.

I do see their point if there are other children who can utilize their services more. Really, they aren't bad people, they are funded badly. There aren't enough resources to go around. They are trying to help as many kids as possible. It sucks to be in this situation. It seriously all comes down to education not be funded correctly. Seriously. Who you really need to talk to is your legislature.

If this year is an anomoly because of surgery, have your doctor write a letter saying so.

And honestly, I don't think they can kick her out. I really don't, I think there are extenuating circumstances that should give her a pass.

I hope it works out for you.

Mocha said...

Hi. The Bloggess sent me. I'm more than willing to talk to you about this "off comment" if you'd like but I'll offer my 2 cents here as well.

Yes, Wright's Law will be your friend, but I don't even know if you need to go that far yet. I would ask to see policies first.

For example, students are not on waiting lists for special education. They either need it or they don't. We don't "put off" kids just because we don't have the man power to assist them. I call bullshit all over that one. If they have students waiting for special education services then they are already breaking the law and your daughter isn't the only one getting the shaft.

Not knowing much about your daughter's age and such (nor of the school system) I can offer you what we are required to do here in Illinois. All students fit into No Child Left Behind, right? Right. That means that when students come to my school and are on crutches and we're unable to provide elevators and wheelchairs, we send a personal tutor TO THEIR HOME. See? Easy fix. Why is your school making education just out of your reach?

So my next step, if I were you, would be to bring in all those doctor's notes. In my position I have to have them. Because we unfortunately, do have parents who keep their children home for bogus reasons (to babysit, to clean the house, because they're wimps, etc...) and after 10 I must have medical proof. HOWEVER, I know that you can get to 10 quickly and then you really DO get the flu. So, if you have to pay a $25 co-pay or allow your high schooler to serve a detention because they should have watched their absences earlier in the year...well, that's a choice students and parents have to make.

This is not your case. You have taken her to the proper places for her medical health and now they want to deny you her academic health. That just doesn't fit with NCLB.

After you have those notes you must ask them how THEY plan on seeing to accommodate your daughter if she needs to get instruction at home. If she's in the school system and it's a large one then I would go as high as I could go. Do you have a district central office (or ISD, since many in Texas are)? Who there is the advocate to whom you need to speak? The accommodations in her IEP state that she is to be given these services. So how will they see to that if she needs to be out for an extended period of time? If possible, some parents get their doctors to state that students miss for surgery (like KayTar already did for 15 days) and during that time they provide the tutor.

That whole "slot" thing sounds fishy to me. Use Wright's Law if you have to, but I'd start with "How have you accommodated students in the past who have had their problems?" because I doubt your daughter is the first. If she is, you're in for a fight that will benefit those who come after you. It's no fun being in that position but it's worthwhile.

Again, contact me personally if you'd like.
mocha_momma at hotmail dot com

Mocha said...

I re-read my comment. It's pre-coffee. I hope it made some sense and my colleagues don't give me shit for writing "Wright's Law" instead of "Wrightslaw" which it should have been.

If The Bloggess brought me coffee in bed this morning before asking me to come over here to help this wouldnt' have been an issue.

Overflowing Brain said...

Is it a public school? Because a child should not be able to be kicked out the public school system for absences. Some will ask them to repeat a grade, but not kick them out of the school for being sick. Not to mention (I'm a teacher by the way) that the state HAS to provide the special education services to your child. If your child lives in a school district, then the school is in charge of the special services.

They wrote her IEP but didn't put anything about the state of her health and how that might impact her education? And they don't think that perhaps if they ignored the surgery absences that the number would be totally reasonable (and half of what it is!)?

I would go in person. And be mad. But do a little research first about what the state run schools can and cannot do. Perhaps call the District Office and speak with them.

Good luck.

cbahm said...

Contact the education reporter at the busiest local newspaper you can find. Suggest a story that will obviously include your child but focus on the broader issue of abandonment of special needs children. Would be an interesting story for them to tackle in today's shrinking economy.

In other words, my advice would be to use the media, yell long and loud, and raise hell.

First, you might want to call your school board representative, though.

GOOD LUCK. *hugs from well-meaning stranger*

Anonymous said...

Aside from being totally un-shocked that a school system would handle things this way, I can only offer two bits of advice.

Get everything in writing and find a reporter. A reporter with a major grudge against the local public schools would be good, but any decent wordsmith would do. Don't threaten, just do it. Their response to a threat would likely be window-dressing rather than an actual resolution.

unmitigated me said...

New reader, so I don't know what state you are in. However, I am a teacher with IEP'd students in my class on a regular basis (10-15 of them per year). The district cannot remove your daughter from the program she is part of. Legally, they must adhere to the IEP to the letter. That SpEd coordinator is trying to get YOU to withdraw your daughter and what? Homeschool? There cannot legally be a 'waiting list' for appropriate services in a public school. If this program was deemed appropriate for your daughter, she's in. Most ISD's (Intermediate School Districts-in Michigan they are by county)have advocates who will accompany you and represent you to make sure the school is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

As for the notes about absences, that is usually a state requirement, not the district. If the state thinks they are doing nothing about a child with frequent absences, they get all kinds of crap, and can lose funding. You might just need to suck it up about the notes, maybe talk to a sympathetic doctor to see if they will provide a note without seeing your daughter?

Rhea said...

That's so wrong. Kids shouldn't be punished for being sick. That's ridiculous. I'm angry for you!!

Keep us updated. Contact some lawyers, get one to write a letter if you need to. KayTar's rights are being messed with if they try to kick her out.

Lee Laughlin said...

Hi, A dear friend of mine is also a teacher for the visually impaired. We just had a long conversation about your situation.
She summarized it like this IDEA is a Federal statute, but each state can interpret it differently. Within in each state, every school district can have a slightly different interpretation. As another commenter pointed out, this is often due to funding.
My friend pointed me towards grab a cup of coffee and search for IEP. You'll be busy reading for hours.
I like on commenter's words "they aren't bad people, just underfunded". That is true. I know my kids will graduate from this school district. So, while I stick up for my kids, I try and do it in a non-threatening manor with a smile on my face. I have yet to go in guns blazing because I know we have many years and likely many battles ahead of us. Keep us posted Kyla!

Perksofbeingme said...

I found this through a link posted on Twitter, but while I don't have a lot of experience with this, I do have experience working with Autistic children and my suggestion for fighting with special education and the school is hire an educational lawyer. They will be there to make sure that the school does not run over you and you will get the best services possible. I think the educational lawyer could help you go a long way. Just a suggestion.

Niksmom said...

Came via SpinningYellow via Blogess. You've gotten so sage advice and I have nothing to add but my prayers and good thoughts for getting your daughter's needs met.

Liz said...

You might need to file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Dept of Justice. If you tell your school district head that you are about to open an ADA case on them, it might help them negotiate better with you. It might also help to contact someone at the state level.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the educational system, and I saw a lot of other comments that would say the same thing, basically hold your ground, she'll stay put until you can all meet formally, read up on all your rights before then, and if you can afford one, get a lawyer. The district will work for you when they realize they can't push you around.

Daisy said...

I'm skimming the multitude of comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating advice already given.
1. Find an advocate. Many work for no cost; we always bring an advocate to meetings for my son with Asperger's.
2. See if you can get home-bound schooling added to her IEP. I've taught kids in my regular ed classroom who needed that option (cancer, other severe illness). This would formally recognize her illnesses and the fact that you are working your best to continue her schooling.
3. Document, document, document. Note all phone calls and emails on the calendar.

Sarah Blake said...

It is conceivable that they might think a home placement would be better considering her health issues; but they would still have to provide a teacher. Ask them if they are prepared to do this. If not and this is a public school, I would say prepare for mediation.

Ally B said...

I found your story through The Bloggess Twittering (tweeting) about your latest struggles.

I don't have any answers for you, but I want to follow your story. I'm linking your blog into my blog roll so that I can keep following you, but I'm also hoping that maybe people who read mine will have an answer...

I don't know. I don't have many readers, but you never know.

(If you don't want to be linked to, please let me know.)

B J Keltz said...

I've had to deal with other issues in school systems so will only offer you this advice. If you are unsatisfied on Monday, first find the advocate. Do the ARD. If you are still uncomfortable, then call your local state representative. Seriously...and a reporter if needed. Try the channels first (my guess is someone will get dressed down for the slot thing), but don't be afraid to get the advocate and your state rep involved. It's their job and why one is paid and the other was elected.

Try to balance a positive relationship with the district vs standing up for K's rights but when push comes to shove, get her the supporters she needs.

Anonymous said...

I'm new here and not familiar with your story. However, if your child attends a public school in the USA, she is entitled to whatever SPED support she needs, regardless of how much time she has missed and who else also needs help. If the school suggests or threatens not to do so for any reason, make IMMEDIATE calls to the Superintendent of Schools and to you state Dept. of Ed. I am a public school educator and parent of a special needs child, so I know that there is a lot of red tape, but that the school MUST give your child what she needs. You should not have to spend money on a lawyer to do this, but you will need to spend time to make sure you have completely educated yourself on your child's rights. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Argh - very frustrating. Hope you can get it resolved quickly and with KayTar still in school ... so unfair.

Lost In Splendor said...

I don't have an info for you, but I had to comment because this is so infuriating. It's not enough for your poor daughter to be going through this, but to deal with the school thing too? Ugg. I hope something is able to help. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

motherbumper said...

This is unfair, frustrating, and ridiculous. And I'm sorry that you have a new battle on your hands. But I'm so happy that you have so many folks in your corner.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that I can say is that something like this happened to me in High School when my chronic migraines started up. (I lived in the Plano ISD school district before I moved to Dallas) I ended up fighting the school board in order to no go truant... She is entitled to an education, continue to remind the school of this. Continue to remind the school of her condition, and get her doctor to write a letter stating her condition and why she is missing so many days (though it is obvious, she had surgery... (the letter helped me out TONS) I really don't have any other ideas. I almost was brought out of school for a time to be put into a different school for the special ed course. (I'm Legally blind, on top of the chronic migraines that I am dealing with now). I know that that last statement doesn't help much, but if the letter to the school teachers/people who do attendance/whomever doesn't work go to the school's board and fight it. If that doesn't work then bring her out until she can handle going back to school. This just pisses me off, the fact that she is going through this.. The fact that people just don't understand what we go through with pain and how we can't handle going to school. I'm sorry that I am not more help than this. But if you want more help than this feel free to e-mail me @
This may not be the best thing to say... but good luck?

Michael Bowman said...

Call Texas' Parent Information Resource Center (PIRC) at 210-444-1710. Their mission is providing accurate info to parents who need assistance with their child's Special Ed. services. They will be able to answer many of your questions and can put you in touch with Advocates or with people who can provide additional information or resources. Also check out and order their book "From Emotions to Advocacy". It is an essential book for parent's struggling through the IEP process.

Michael Bowman
Sp. Ed. Teacher / Advocate /
Friend of Lee Laughlin

Perksofbeingme said...

I wrote a post about Kaytar. I hope you don't mind. I'm hoping to send more people your way

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it's worth retaining a good special education lawyer. For the cost of one good "nastygram" -- strongly worded letter informing the school that you're aware of your rights and are willing to fight for them -- you can change a lot of administrative attitudes.

-- An anonymous non-special-education lawyer.

Kim said...

Telling you that her "spot" could be better utilized by someone else is BS.

Maddy's ped sent paperwork confirming that she is "medically fragile" and that she missed many days of school because of it. That stopped the harrassment that we received from our school district about her many absences each year.

It is up to the school district to provide a free and appropriate education for EVERY child in their district ~ if they currently have a waiting list for services, then they are not following the letter of the law. This is not your problem ~ it is *their* problem.

Fight them. Get an advocate. Contact an attorney who specializes in SNs cases. Call your congressman. Document everything.

If you haven't already, check out and order a copy of their book ~ I found that carrying my copy with me to IEP meetings seriously cut down on the amount of BS that the district threw my way ~ an educated parent is the best advocate for a child, and if they know that you know the law, they are less likely to mess with you.

I'm so sorry you are going through this. I'm in Texas ~ are you? (I live in DFW.) I have a friend who retained an attorney to get services for her daughter, and I would be happy to call her to get that info if you are also in TX.


Anonymous said...

You've already received some amazing advice, so I'll just offer my support (and shoulder) here. I know you know how to stand up for KayTar and her rights, and this you'll dso just fine--don't let the school intimidate you.

Lauren G. said...

I will share my experience, which is that the teenager in my and my partner's care was threatened with expulsion from school due to absences (at an alternative school at that). Many of these absences were in reality tardies that were counted as absences. The previous year, late students were tolerated (hello,an alternative, last-chance school should support students who show up at all, right?). As soon as we felt helpless and railroaded by the seemingly all-powerful principal, my partner contacted a child psychologist whom he knew personally. She was then present at all meetings to represent and speak for the student. Apparently, as a state-certified professional, this psychologist does have some powers to report the school, and a responsibility to ensure that students' rights are upheld. Her very presence, knowledge of the law/students' rights, and clear-headed, not emotionally attached, well-spoken strong words ensured that our child stayed in school.
I might point out that the principal ignored the psychologist's emails and phone calls. My partner and the psychologist hounded her for a meeting.
I don't know if this helps, but having an advocate was extremely helpful to us and our child. We didn't know the law or children's rights. We couldn't speak for ourselves or our child. Luckily, we knew someone who could (and paid her quite high fees, for us). Maybe someone can recommend such an advocate for your child in your area.
Good luck to you, and you have my best wishes. You have done so much so far; surely you will succeed in this as well.

Mariah said...

This is absolutely insane. I don't understand this at all. So sorry, I wish I had some insight and / or guidance to offer, but you have my thoughts and prayers

Sabrina said...

Hi, I work in schools as a counselor and the advice I would give any parent in this situation, I believe has already been given, an emergency IEP requesting the district find appropriate placement for your child (even if it happens to be outside of district). Students with special needs have the right to as normal and fit education as possible and you have to be aggressive with the school district to get these needs met. Remember though that your school's special ed coordinators, teachers, counselors and administrators are only messengers and are usually only doing as they have been told by the district. The school district special education coordinator is the person laying down the law and is the one that should receive your full attention. Good luck and may the force be with you in this battle!

Shel said...

Under IDEA the school has to accomodate her and educate her even if that is sending a teacher to her home to teach her. That isn't what you want and it isn't what she needs. It is expensive and difficult but schools are required to provide necessary services under Federal law starting at age 3. They can put so many road blocks and hoops in hopes that you will give up your "irrational demand that your child be educated" so you will have to dig in your heels and demand that they figure something out. They may be able to pull her but they have to replace it with something if you have an IEP they are under law mandated to work towards meeting her goals. At least that is how it was presented to me in my education classes in college a decade ago. I don't believe that it has changed much. My sister is a sped teacher and she idicates the laws are consistent.

Anonymous said...

You need to get an advocate. The advocate should be able to assist in an attorney search, should this become necessary. A case of this nature might find an attorney willing to take it pro bono. Have all letters delivered upon signature only, this is elemental, and the person who pointed it out has definately been through this process before. I do not believe the district would prevail in any courtroom. However, the term appropriate is not accidental in the wording of the accomodations made for children with special needs. In truth, you are your own best line of defense, make yourself familiar with the laws, find a pit bull advocate, and stand strong. Your daughter has a right to an education. Strength be with you.

ewe are here said...

I know that under IDEA, all children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. And children with special educational needs, like KayTar, are entitled to special accommodations, which I assume she has on account of her IEP.

You may need a lawyer who specializes in this area. And start contact state agencies that govern the area, or ombudsmen that may exist.

In the meantime, don't let them bully you. Point out her health record has improved since her surgery, a surgery that is responsible for 1/2 of the now complained about absences. ANd, if it were me, you might start bringing her in when she's sick... wait in the car for a bit...let them send her home after they figure out that she's sick and they don't want her there infecting other children.

I'm sorry. This really sucks.

Anonymous said...

Call a lawyer. My parents work in education and, depending on what state you are in, they have different rules about what they can do. But in most states, they HAVE to provide education, even if that means sending a teacher to your home. It costs the district a fortune, but it's your right.

Ali said...

SO angry for you right now. and i SO wish i could help. HUGS.

Jaden Paige said...

So. You already have a ton of comments on here, all of which are much more useful and informative than mine. But I still had to stop and say that this is an OUTRAGE. It pisses me off that you are even having to worry that her education could be taken away over this. GRR! I could go on, but I'll let you get back to the important reading...

Anonymous said...

I had a similiar problem several years ago. I contacted the district superintendent, and he straightened it out for me.