Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. ~ J.C. Watts ~
I attended my daughter’s moving up ceremony and surprised at not seeing my neighbor’s son. My daughter and the boy were in the same grade and his name appeared in the program. The boy was the only one in the 8th grade class to miss it. Shortly thereafter, I learned from the boy’s stepmom why he was absent. The boy decided he didn’t want to take part in the ceremony because he will attend a different school district in the fall. He will also repeat the 8th grade. I was told the new school district assessed that the boy made no gains in Webutuck and therefore is required to repeat the grade.
During a CSE meeting, the boys parents were told by the Chair it’s best if they removed the boy because if he remains he would have a “bulls eye” on his back by the teachers. A bulls eye! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing although knowing the arrogance of the CSE Chair, it is not all that surprising, really. Basically, the district has failed the boy. Instead of focusing on solutions and appropriate interventions to help the boy, the Chair tells the parents to place him elsewhere. How does a district Chair have the audacity to tell parents to place their child elsewhere and get away with it. In doing so, the district is denying the child a FAPE. I asked the step mom if they recorded the meeting or have a witness to what was said. Although I think given the seriousness of such a suggestion is enough to report it directly to the NYSED without a record. A record is undeniable proof, however.
The above situation was shared with my Partners in Policymaking members. Many of them agreed that what the Chair did was deplorable. In fact, one person went on to say, with proof, it’s probably enough to have the boy placed in a private school at district expense. I agree.
I want to give parents permission to record meetings. Give yourselves permission – it’s ok, legal and a way to protect and ensure your rights are upheld. Or, invite someone who can take notes and witness what takes place in the CSE meeting. Parents have a right under the law to invite anyone to the CSE meetings so long as 72 hours advance written notice is given to the district. Additionally, by law, with prior written notice, it is permissible to capture a record of the proceedings. It is important that parents are proactively involved in holding districts accountable. Each time we take a stand for our children we are indirectly standing up for all children in special education.