Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I.E.P. (Individual Escape Plan)

I have yet to encounter a special education student attending their annual Individual Education Plan meeting that wanted to be in attendance. Most understand what words their parent(s) and teacher are expecting to hear. "I want to learn so I can graduate and get a good job or maybe go to college." It is said in many ways, but these are the words that are heard by the adults.

About the only time this mind-set is interrupted is when a special education student falls through the cracks and is treated as a "regular" student. Such was the case this morning.

"Do you know this student," the assistant principal said, handing me a computer printout of a class schedule.
I glanced at the name before saying, "I've seen him around. What's his problem?"
"His problem is now your problem. He's a special ed student from South Carolina, but his mother didn't mention it when she enrolled him two months ago."
"Well, I'll set him up for an evaluation."
"You might want to write a behavior plan also. He groped two girls on the school bus this morning."
"I'll see what I can do."
"He got three days out-of-school, then he got into an argument with his math teacher and called her a bitch. That got him five more days."

I quickly mentally assessed the severity of the punishment for each offense. One side of the scales contained the physical attack on two younger girls, (three days out-of-school). The other side of the scales was calling the teacher a bitch, (five additional days out-of-school). Before I could pass judgment, silently, the assistant principal continued, "When he comes back I want him in your class all day. Work with him. Connect with him." I understood the translation; If he is with you all day, then he won't be in my office. "Also, he is failing all of his classes. He's got to pass them or he will be counted against the school when the count is taken for No Child Left Behind."

I watched him walk away, leaving me to solve the problem of a sexual attacking, class failing, unknown special education student that has been suspended for the next eight school days. It was just the first period of the day and already the school target scores for No Child Left Behind were in jeopardy. Now was the time for Super Special Education Teacher to save the day. I continued on down the sidewalk to the main building where another assistant principal had one of my students waiting to be saved. He had been caught having sex in the boys restroom. The girl had denied they were having sex. "I was giving him oral sex. It wasn't like we were really having sex," she said. Thank you again President Clinton.

I called the mothers of each student to arrange a date and time for an I.E.P. meeting. Each mother told me how their child was being persecuted by the school and events beyond the student's control. "All he wants is to learn so he can graduate and get a job or maybe go to college," each one said.

"Yes ma'am, I'm sure the I.E.P., we develop as a team, will help."