Thursday, November 14, 2013

Am I Asking Too Much?

All I want for any of my children is that they get the best education and services that they need and deserve!  I hate feeling like I am stuck in a dark room with no openings.  Today is parent/teachers conference and yet again I leave the school crying and feeling frustrated.

Dono's first year in the school, I loved it.  The staff were great and he showed a lot of progress.  I would rave about the school to anyone who would listen to me.  I loved his teacher, she was great and saw that she really genuinely cared for her students.  She was stern and the children responded very well to her.  It was twice as wonderful to know that the teacher's aide adored Donovan and took special interest in him.  During meetings and special events I felt the love and happiness.  There was always a spirit and joy breezing through the halls.  You could tell that they ran a tight ship and that the shipmates were all content.

Our second year at the school, was quite different.  My Dono's behavior was off.  He was stimming way more than usual.  His chin began to bruise from his constant punching.  He wasn't engaging as much, even with me.  It was almost like he was back to square one.  At Parent Teacher's conference last year, I went prepared with a list of questions and concerns.  As I was going over my list with his teacher, she informed me that Dono was not receiving his mandated Occupational Therapy services.  When I asked for how long, she told me since September.  This set off a battle to receive a RSA voucher to get external services outside of the school.  After numerous phone calls, meetings and threats to take legal action, I got the golden ticket.

As the year continued, my concerns were continuously affirmed.  At the end of an assembly, my Dono was left backstage with no adult supervision.  This happened as I sat in the audience and watched.  Eventually he came out, totally oblivious to the dangers that could have happened. All of his reports were the same numbers and comments. "Donovan has a hard time focusing, he constantly needs to be redirected, Donovan is easily distracted.  He needs a lot of one on one time."  I felt like my Donovan was stuck and not progressing at all.  I know that I am biased because I am his mother, but he is a very bright child and I see a lot of potential in him.  He had been showing nothing but great progress up until now.

A major concern I had was when his teacher expressed to me that she didn't feel the other teachers in the school were as equipped and she was worried that he would regress further. She only taught kindergarten and first grade and Dono was on his way to second grade. Now how am I supposed to feel hearing this.  So when the summer program was up, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that Dono was going back to his teacher's classroom and she would indeed be Dono's teacher.

Fast Forward to today.  The report card for all the NYC public schools was out and Dono's school scored a D.  I was preparing myself to meet with his teacher.  I planned to leave work for a bit to have enough time to sit and talk with his teacher.  When I  arrived his teacher was surprised.  She is aware that I am a working parent and expected to see me in the evening.  We greeted and began to discuss Dono.  I asked her why he was still in her classroom and she informed me it was because of me.  I had suspected that the administration placed him in her classroom, because they thought it would appease me.  She confirmed my suspicion.

Alot was said, but what I got from it was this... Dono is a bright kid who unless something is of interest to him, it takes a lot of work to get him to focus.  She loves Dono and everyone is team Dono.  But if I have an impartial hearing I won't be successful, because the school is giving Dono all that they are required to do.  She said he is hard to test, because he doesn't respond properly.  The fact that they scored a D, isn't relevant because it isn't based on their achievements, but on paperwork submitted.

My gut is telling me that he needs more, but I am not sure how else to get him what he needs.  I can't afford private school and I don't have a big enough argument to justify getting the board of ed to pay for his education.  Nor do I have a reason other than moving in the area to get him to another school.

I am feeling a bit defeated right now.  All I want is what he needs and deserves.  I feel like I am being forced to accept that this all my son will be.