Please read the following blog from Bernita Bradley. She is a new blogger for Education Post. She is a dynamic Detroiter who works with parents to navigate the complex issues of education in the city of Detroit:
Parents should be relieved that summer is here. They get a break from washing stains out of white uniform shirts, waking up super early in the morning, waiting in the school drop off zones or doing homework that reminds us just how long ago we were in school.
Most of us are busy planning mini vacations and trying to figure out where all the food goes when the children are home alone.
But not the parents of special needs students. Their summers are filled with the daunting tasks that come with assuring their students IEP forms are complete. Individualized Education Plans are federal documents parents need to fill out if their child has been diagnosed or is in the process of being diagnosed with a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education services in school. The application process is very tedious. If these parents aren't ahead of the game, their children may well fall behind their peers.
This is an issue Tesha Jordan, a Detroit mother of two, knows all too well. Her twin boys fell behind after asking the school staff for several months to have them tested and not labeled as problem kids. Tesha decided to take matters into her own hands and have them evaluated.
Her sons Cody and Chase, both smart and very inventive young men love school but lost interest when teachers constantly sent them to the office for being disruptive in class.
Chase: "I don't understand what the teacher is talking about when the classroom is noisy."
Cody: "It's hard to focus sometimes, I want to learn."
Counselors at The Children Center in Detroit helped mom understand more about their diagnosis, but the pressure is still overwhelming. Mom must make sure all evaluations, paperwork and protocols are completed and implemented by August 31st so that Cody and Chase are able to receive services at their school.
If one step is overlooked, they will fall further behind. The boys want to learn, they are eager to learn.
For Steps to a complete IEP:
This race for support is nothing new to families. Brian Love, my colleague at EdPost lived thru this struggle when his now 17 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD. He was diagnosed 11 years ago at age 6. The complications his wife and he went thru with the IEP process are the same struggles that parents are still faced with today. That is unacceptable to still have a flawed process after 11 years or longer.
The lack of an IEP causes students to sit in classrooms that have no support for their particular needs. Grades fall behind and like Cody and Chase, children become labeled. The real issue is funding, it costs a school anywhere from $2500-$3500 to complete an IEP. That does not include actual supports needed for the child once they have completed the IEP. Some parents have found themselves encouraged by school staff to switch schools or counseled out. Parents who choose this route usually end up back at square one, needing an IEP.
As the number of children being diagnosed as special needs students continues to grow. The need to support their parents grows every week. Myesha and Eddie Williams, Arlyssa Heard and Maria Montoya are parents who have fought their way thru the IEP process for their children. Now they dedicate themselves to help and empower parents as they navigate the IEP application process.
My daughter asked if she needs an IEP, I have decided to start her process mid summer. Keep your fingers crossed. And pray for us.