“We are meeting here today to discuss the plan we are going to use for the coming year in Joe’s studies,” came Ms. Asterisk’s voice into my deliberations. “I am here substituting for Mr. Ampersand, who is at a district meeting. The purpose of our meeting today is not meant to criticize Joe or embarrass him. We want to help you, Joe, do better ….” And she continue to repeat the formalized introductory speech as mandated for every IEP team leader to repeat at every IEP meeting which describes the parent’s rights and introduces each of the members of the IEP team. Ms. Asterisk was careful to speak in short sentences with pauses because the student’s mother needed to have everything said translated by the translator, Ms. Quote.
“Mr Bold, since you are the regular education teacher that is required in every IEP meeting and since you need to get back to class, you can give your report first,” said Ms Asterisk. So Mr Bold let the team know that Joe was struggling in his PE class. His attendance was good and he was respectful to the coach. The reason he was getting an F was because he refused to run on Fridays. Joe and he then had a heart to heart talk about running and why it was important.
When he was done the school nurse, Ms. Dash, gave the Health Report which is part of the IEP document. The school psychologist then gave her report on Joe’s social emotional counseling, his present level of performance at his meetings with her and her goal for Joe in the coming year. Joe had evidently done well in asserting himself more in his interpersonal relationships.
“Mr. Overscore, do you have the student’s goals for the coming year?” Ms. Asterisk enquired. Now it was my turn to explain the student’s educational goals and justify them by his present levels of performance in Math and English Language Arts. After I had done that I read off his class grades from a transcript from the prior grading period and he had done well except for PE in which he was getting an F because he would not run on Fridays.
When I was finished, the mother was asked if she had any comments and she talked about how she tried to help her son to remember to do his homework. This seemed to ring true, because Joe was very committed to handing in his homework and actually did well in all his courses except PE and Math. Math was his weak subject.
“I will go ahead and lock the IEP if there are not any further changes,” said Ms. Asterisk. No one had any further comments, so the meeting was called to a close.
Soon all of the participants filtered out except for Ms. Asterisk, Ms Comma and myself. And since I felt it was totally within my rights as a professional to question the authority of another colleague, I continued as planned.
“Ms Asterisk, before you lock the IEP I think we need to wait until we have had a discussion on whether you have the authority to participate as you have in the IEP process,” I seemed to blurt out probably in too blunt a manner. Ms. Asterisk’s back stiffened as the specter of direct confrontation loomed in front of her.
“Oh really,” she said in a curt tone.
“Never before in my entire career have we had a DIS Service Provider become involved as you have in the writing of our IEPs.”
“Well, now you have,” she said with a steely face not willing defuse the situation in any way.
“I think that we need to consult the District on this, because I don’t think you are qualified or authorized to go over our IEPs and comment on how they are written. Is this part of your job description?” I pounded my most salient points home.
“Yes it is part of my job description and I think it is time for you to leave my office,” she demanded.
“Ok, Ms. Asterisk. Have a nice day,” I politely complied with her request. Well, another first for me – to be kicked out of the school psychologist’s office. But this was not to be the end to this problem nor the implications it had not only for my career but for that of others.
Barclay Totten copyright 2017