Squeaky Wheel

I’m starting to get really annoyed with LAUSD (los angeles unified school district.) We were promised at The Boy’s IEP in late September that he would have 30 hours (at least) of one-on-one behaviorist services, and that if he needed more, they’d give us more. HE NEEDS MORE & I cannot get them to stay true to their word.

He started his PSM (Pre-School Mixed) class in the beginning of October.  The hours were only extended by 2 days.  Big deal. By the end of October, they were done with the one-on-one behaviorist shadowing him even though his behaviors had not improved.  I spoke with the Supervisor who put together his behavior plan and oversaw the behaviorist who worked directly with The Boy.  Over the month of November, I had about half a dozen telephone conversations with her, begging her to give us more time & that we were told that we would not be left high and dry by LAUSD during our IEP.  I told her that The Boy needed more hours, and she told me that he “has so many strengths and we don’t want to use the one-on-0ne behaviorist as a ‘crutch,'” and that he will “get the hang of managing on his own” and that “the teacher just needs to follow the plan we set up for him.”

After realizing that I would get no further with her, I went to the person ABOVE her.  I have been trying to get her engaged since early December; playing phone tag & listening to her promise that she would come and visit his class or “at the very least speak with his teacher.”  Well, I finally got ahold of her email address, (which I wanted to have in the beginning because I prefer a paper-trail, ) and shot off an email to her this week.  Well, lo and behold, I think I have her attention now.

Here’s MY email to her & below that is her response, (I omitted or changed the names to maintain & respect the privacy of all parties involved:)

Hi LAUSD PSM Specialist, 

I called your office number this morning and heard your voicemail message that you would be out of the office until Friday, so I wanted to write you an email.  

As you know, I first contacted you in December, and we spoke on Friday 12/7, you said that you would try to get over to the school to observe The Boy, but because the following week was the week before the winter break, things were hectic and you couldn’t make any promises, but at the very least, you’d get in touch with The Boy’s Teacher.  You and I spoke on the phone last week & you assured me that you would get in touch with her and also speak with Your Bosses. As of today, The Boy’s Teacher has not heard from you.  

It has now been over a month of me trying to get you engaged in my son’s situation, and I feel like I’m getting the run around.  I’m really becoming frustrated, PSM Director.  I was promised in the IEP that I would not be left out in the wind, so to speak, that if we needed more behaviorist one-on-one time, that we’d get it.  We need it.  The Boy needs the hours, he needs the one-on-one behaviorist to shadow him during his time in school.  I volunteer in his class on Tuesdays, so I see first hand what the situation is.  His teacher & the teacher’s aide are both wonderful, they follow the protocol that was set up by The Behaviorist & Her Supervisor, but it’s not enough.  The classroom aide ends up becoming The Boy’s one-on-one person.  Not only is that unfair to the other students, but she cannot devote her entire time to him, so when she has to tend to another student, The Boy will often act out & become unruly.  There are up to 16 students in that class – how in the world is The Aide expected to be able to focus her attention on The Boy one-on-one when 15 other kids need attention as well?  

When I expressed my concerns to The Behaviorist Supervisor in November, she told me that she didn’t want The Behaviorist time to “become a crutch,” but if he needs it, how is it a crutch? The Boy has many strengths, I do not doubt that.  He’s a smart, articulate, clever, funny little boy, but the undesirable behaviors, (his lack of focus, his inability to follow directions & listen to instructions, his physical outbursts that result in harming other children, spitting at them – which by the way is a totally new behavior,) are things that can be & NEED TO BE corrected now.  But it takes more than a mandate on a piece of paper.  It takes listening to me – his parent, his advocate – and believing me when I tell you that he needs help.  It takes supporting us in correcting these behaviors.  How can you support us?  By providing a one-on-one behaviorist until we all are in agreement, (the district, his teachers & my husband and I,)  that he can participate on his own in class without someone helping him every step of the way.  

I am open to discussing this further with you, but if you are too busy, or feel that you cannot help me, please let me know.  As I’ve stated above, it’s been over a month since I initiated contact with you & am still waiting for you to get engaged.  If you could please provide me with Your Boss’s contact number, perhaps speaking with her would better suit me & my son.  

The Fairly Good Mother 

Hi The Fairly Good Mother…
I apologize for not being more responsive and available to you… I hear your frustration with this situation and agree you are your sons strongest/best advocate… I am a mother of 4 children whom have all had IEP’s and I truely hear you.  I am sorry that I was busy with many training’s for teachers when I returned from Winter break… and again I apologize for your frustration ….

I am including MY BOSS on this message.  I am also including a Behavior PKIT and is working with a student at The Boy’s School in the PSM in the afternoon. I will be asking for her to lend some interim support as well.  I will visit the classroom on Monday first thing…class begins at 8:45…I have also included my Supervisor and the Supervisor of Behavior Support to ensure we are able to move quickly in providing The Boy the proper support and to support the PSM program… 

Again I apologize and look forward to meeting The Boy and The Teacher on Monday 1/28…. 

Well, freaking FINALLY!  Finally I have her attention & she copied her boss, as well as the Behaviorist Supervisor who told me about not wanting The Boy to use one-on-one Behaviorist time as a “crutch,” and several other people.  Her spelling and grammatical errors make me cringe, but I’ll overlook them as long as I am moving forward with this.

I am anxiously awaiting Monday!  I’ll let you know, dear reader, the outcome 🙂  And remember, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.

5 thoughts on “Squeaky Wheel

  1. You GO GIRL! You have stumbled upon the secret weapon of special ed parenting – the ever dangerous paper trail! To add to the fun, I would like to suggest that, if you can, follow up each phone call with an email briefly outlining what was discussed in the phone call AND what decisions were made or conclusions that were reached via the phone call.

    Then I add a little disclaimer asking them to let ME know if there was anything that I misunderstood from the phone call to please let me know. If I don’t hear back then I will assume that everything in this email is correct and we’ll move forward.

    I realized early on that my emails were always answered with a phone call so then I just started documenting the phone calls … when they realized I was on to their tricks they were much better at just about everything!

    It can be very time consuming and frustrating but it is well worth it because, at the very least, you are showing your due diligence and in some cases, the school’s incompetence.

    Another thing you might want to consider is checking into the State’s position on allowing parents to take record Special Education Committee Meetings. In my state we, as parents, are allowed to record audio of the meetings. I have a recorder that saves the meetings as mp3’s and I just save them on my computer.

    Your son is young and unfortunately you will be battling like this for quite some time. Yet, once you get a reputation as someone who knows the law and knows how the system works, you will find that the schools will be a bit more accommodating because they know what you are capable of! 🙂

    Also remember that every word on that IEP is law and if they knowingly break the law, you have grounds for a legal case against the school. They hate the publicity and will almost always do the right things to avoid the costly legal fees!


    1. Thank you SO MUCH for this! It’s funny you should mention following up phone calls with an email outlining / documenting what was discussed – I thought of that very thing about 2 hours ago. I will also include the disclaimer you mentioned – that’s BRILLIANT! I really appreciate your suggestions & encouragement 🙂 It is going to be a long road, and perhaps some tough battles, but I’m totally game for this – my son is depending on me to fight the hard fights!

      1. We’re all in this together and at the end of the day that it your kid and as I have told the folks here in my district, “Don’t ever expect me to apologize for advocating for my child. Nine months from now they will be in someone else’s class and no longer your responsibility, yet she will be my child forever.” Keep me posted! The real fun is now making sure they follow the IEP! It never ends!

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