If you have a REALLY good sense of humor, these quotes taken from real discussions, hearings and written evidence will amuse you.
Taken from an email written from a teacher in Clay Community Schools on May 15, 2003, to the school psychologist about a child with clearly diagnosed SEVERE ADHD by several qualified medical professionals:
“STUDENT (name changed to protect the innocent) is a strange case. We all feel that his biggest problem is that his mom and dad are looking for any excuse to explain STUDENT’S bad behavior. I do believe that he is somewhat ADHD; however, we have had much more severe cases (name omitted), for example. STUDENT doesn’t get along with any other student he picks and complains and antagonizes one and all. I can also say that no one likes him. Not because it is the popular thing to do, but they really don’t like him. His academic levels are low because he has had the crutch of “it’s his disability” used so often that he no longer really tries. He and his parents expect everyone else to do his work and not hold him accountable because it is “his disability”. He won’t start working in class on assignments unless he is specifically told to do so, and he wants to try the excuse “I’m thinking’ when the exercise clearly doesn’t even take any thinking. I don’t know how to counteract a life of parents telling him that there is something majorily (sic) wrong with him. They have tried every test, counseling, medicine that is out there. I can’t imagine how he is to deal with constantly being told that there is something terribly wrong. We have found that if we tell him “that’s it, you act like that or do that again, and you’re outta here,” then he can control his behavior. However, theline (sic) must be drawn in the sand for him to see that he has reached the limit of what we’ll tolerate. The parents and the behavioral plan said we were to do three warnings, but we found that one worked as well as three. We’ll all be interested to get the results of his testing.”
An advocate was having a discussion with an administrator at a case conference. After much discussion about the student’s need for more one on one academic instruction (independent evaluator was at meeting and making very clear case for same), the school decided not to offer more one on one instruction, anyway.
Advocate: OK. So I need to be clear that I understand the school’s position with regard to increased one on one instruction. The school’s position is that additional one on one instruction is not warranted, is that right?
Team chair: That is correct.
Advocate: OK. Will you be certain to send the required written notice to the parent?
Team chair: (blank stare, pregnant pause): What are you talking about?
Advocate: Well, whenever a parent asks a school to change their child’s program in some way, and the school refused to do so, IDEA requires that the parent be provided with written notice.
Team Chair: Well, we’re not refusing to do anything.
Advocate: The parent requested additional one on one instruction. The school’s position is that this is not needed and will not be provided. Therefore, you are refusing to change the child’s program as requested by the parent.
Team chair (now getting very annoyed and huffy): Ms. Advocate, I’ve already told you once: We are not refusing anything. We simply feel that the additional instruction is not needed.
Advocate (now tired of arguing with team chair): Uh, OK.
Written team meeting agenda for a child’s three-year reevaluation meeting:
Total time allotted to meeting 30 minutes
Introductions: 3 minutes
Setting ground rules for how meeting will be conducted: 3 minutes
Eval 1: 3 minutes
Eval 2: 3 minutes
Eval 3: 3 minutes
Eval 4: 3 minutes
Eval 5: 3 minutes
Parent questions: 3 minutes
Develop IEP: 3 minutes
Summarize meeting: 3 minutes
Note from special education director to staff members, found in student file. Important: Time of year is summer:
“When Mrs. Advocate comes in to review student’s records, one of you will have to sit with her to be sure she doesn’t take anything. Also, I would prefer that she use a room that is not air conditioned.”
An advocate asked the school to provide written notice to a parent requesting a service that was refused:
Advocate: OK. Will you be certain to send the required written notice to the parent?
Team Chair: We don’t do that here.
Advocate: Well, you have to. It’s required by law.
Team chair (very angry by now): Mrs. Advocate, the law is all well and good, but you need to understand the day to day realities of how schools operate.
This scenario occurred in a case in Northern Indiana:
The child had severe behavior problems and was eligible for special education and related services under the area of Emotional Disability.
Several of the documents in evidence and several of the witnesses had testified that when the child became stressed out at school, he would either flap his arms in the air or roll on the floor.
During a break, while the attorney for the parent was out of the room. the next witness, a school employee, came in to testify, and he was obviously nervous.
The parent reported to her attorney after the attorney returned to the room that the school's attorney, who works for one of the largest, most respected firms in Indiana, had said to the nervous witness: "Well, perhaps if you flap your arms in the air and roll on the floor, you'll feel better."
Needless to say, the parent of the child was very upset that the school's attorney felt it was OK to make fun of her child with disabilities.
Transcript at 96 From Kathryn M. v. Hyde Park Central SD (NY)
Chair of IEP team: “. . . I had discussed how K. was coming to school fairly consistently with the exception of being out every other day . . .“
The following is an email from a special education director in a large metropolitan school district in the Indianapolis area, dated 04-20-04, who apparently thinks the laws are all well and good but that they don’t apply to this particular district:
“Mrs. Mother (name changed to protect the innocent), your request for all of you (sic) child’s school records were (sic) passed to me. Many of the things that you requested such as deficiency notes, and correspondence from parents to mane a few are not kept and put in a child’s cumulative record file. I would imagine that you can get such things as the attendance records, schedules and the grades from our website. If you would contact (NAME OF SCHOOL OMMITTED) they can give you more in-depth directions as to how to access these. Regarding the evaluation report, IEP etc., those would have been given to you at the case conference. You are welcome to make an appointment to come in and review your child’s file in our office if you would like but unless if (sic) we are in a due process situation, we do not make copies of the records.”
The following is contained in an email dated January 12, 2005, from a principal to a parent’s advocate.
First, the advocate wrote: “The (NAME OMITTED FAMILY) want (STUDENT’S NAME OMITTED) back in the home school. What do we need to do to get him there?”
The principal responded, “When is this supposed to happen? I need to give my two weeks notice. Ha ha.”
The following is contained in an email written between two school employees and dated March 23, 2004. It was found in the student’s file by an advocate working with the parents who went to view the student’s file:
- Find out how old is the doctor’s written script which states that pull-ups are detrimental and that using a toileting schedule is not appropriate. If it is over six months old, the parents should be requested to get an updated script.
- Invite the doctor to come to the case conference. Taylor would probably have to pay him since Taylor would be doing the inviting.
- Convene the conference and develop goals for teaching toileting skills. In this way, you can then show a hearing officer (if it comes to that) that the school has addressed this in his IEP.
- If the parents continue to refuse to have him wear pull-ups and/or follow a schedule, then the school should make it very clear to the parent that this is a health and safety issue for, not only Brandon, but for the other children as well. If the parents continue to refuse, let them know that this may be a child abuse or child neglect and that you will be reporting this to Welfare.
- Make sure that you are establishing a written record.
The following is a long-time parent advocate’s account of what she witnessed at a recent case conference in Hancock County:
Yesterday I attended an IEP with a family at XXX Middle School. We did tape the meeting, but I wish we had videotaped it too! (THE DIRECTOR) attended the meeting...His only comment the entire time was, "I am sorry I am late." However, the highlight was that the Assistant Principal asked when he walked in what kind of a meeting is this? He kept falling asleep during the meeting. After the meeting the parents and I walked out of the school building, and the Dad's first comment was "Who was that guy?" The three of us broke out in laughter. (Tho' it should have been tears!).
In Beaumont, Texas, in a hearing in 2008, the doctorate-level special education director’s testimony who first said she didn’t understand her own statement made just minutes before, when asked to elaborate on her own statement, then kept changing her mind about where a document would be found to support her statement. Finally, after the director contradicted herself and changed her testimony multiple times about whether a document existed supporting her statements in the hearing, the director’s counsel stipulated that no such document existed:
BY MS. PHILPOT:
Q. Was a plan devised for the in-home program?
Q. What was the plan?
A. The current placement had a plan. They lived in residential.
Q. And there was no other than that, no other plan other than what already existed when they were in the residential placement; right?
A. Right. That was meeting their needs.
Q. The residential placement was meeting their needs?
A. At that time.
Q. At what time?
A. At that point in the ARD Committee.
Q. What point of what ARD Committee?
A. Okay. I don't understand the question.
Q. You said Bayes was meeting their needs at that point. What point? Give me a date.
A. July '07.
Q. July '07 Bayes was meeting their needs. When you say "they," you mean THE STUDENT, right?
A. Okay. I don't have -- I'm not understanding. I really am not.
Q. Well, I'm just asking you to interpret your own statement. I'm not asking you to do anything complicated. What does that statement mean?
A. Okay. I don't understand. I really don't. I don't know what I'm --
MS. PHILPOT: I think the witness is being evasive. She said it. I'm just asking her to elaborate.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Well, --
MS. CHAPPELL: I think we're being argumentative here.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Well, I know but we're not getting any information. I don't know the questions are -- let's kind of step back. Was there an in-home plan at Mom's house ever developed at or before the ARD in '07?
THE WITNESS: Like the in-home training?
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Right.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Okay. When was that developed?
THE WITNESS: Through the ARDs, the different ARDs. Like so many hours of in-home training; is that what you're asking me?
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Yeah. I think that's what I'm hearing here, is a question about what specific in-home plan was in place. "When we bring THE STUDENT home, this is what we're going to do, and this is how we're going to do it."
THE WITNESS: And some IEP goals to work on?
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Right.
THE WITNESS: Yes, ma'am. That was in place.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: At Mom's house, for use at Mom's house?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
BY MS. PHILPOT:
Q. So where would we find that?
A. In one of Ms. Carter's reports.
Q. That was in September of '07; right, that she did her in-home training?
A. And she did parent training. That's in the ARD deliberations.
Q. You said it was in one of Ms. Carter's reports. Which one are you referring to?
A. Okay. Also it's in -- it's in the deliberations.
Q. The answer is a date. You said it was in one of her reports. Specify which particular report by giving us a date.
A. Okay. I would like to change my answer to deliberations. It's in the deliberations from the previous ARD.
Q. So it's your testimony that the ARD deliberations contain the in-home plan?
A. Some, uh-huh.
Q. And we wouldn't find it any other place. It would be in the deliberations; yes or no?
Q. We would ask you to look and see if you see that in those documents, since you're probably very intimate with them.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: The 07/02/07 ARD?
THE WITNESS: And '06.
MS. PHILPOT: There's two '06 and one '07.
BY MS. PHILPOT:
Q. And that would be the only place we'd find it; right? If it existed, it would be right there in one of those documents?
A. I'm not sure.
Q. You're the director of the program suggesting that there be this radical change of placement and you don't even know where it is.
MS. CHAPPELL: I object. Asked and answered. She said --
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: I'm going to overrule because I heard that there was a plan for Mom and the child in the home but now we're hearing -- that doesn't exist, does it, a four-corner document that is the in-home goals and objectives when THE STUDENT comes to his mom's house? That document does not exist.
THE WITNESS: Yes, it does.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Where is it?
THE WITNESS: It's Ms. Carter's report. She has some goals on there, and I don't know if it's in the exhibits.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: And that was done in September of '07?
THE WITNESS: No, past ARDs.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Then we need to see it if it exists. Could you find it?
MS. PHILPOT: It's okay if you want to help her find it.
MS. CHAPPELL: Oh, I don't know that that's in here. Are you talking about something that you would get from Ms. Carter? I guess I can ask her questions about it on cross but I don't know that there's anything in here.
Live testimony from a special education employee of Beaumont ISD (not the same special education director this time) during a special education hearing in Beaumont, Texas, in 2008, in regard to the trail-blazing proposal by the school that its custodian serve as the “backup personnel plan” for a student who had severe autism, severe behaviors, had to be physically restrained frequently and who had been in a 24-hour residential facility for the prior five years:
Q. That's fine. Now, you mentioned that there was a former aide who was a custodian. Do you recall that person?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Okay. What was that person's name?
Q. And how long has she been at the Oaks?
A. Prior to her leaving in May 2007, at least two years, three years.
Q. You said she left in May 2007?
A. Yeah, she had back surgery.
Q. Okay. So when the ARD occurred in July of 2007, she was no longer even employed by --
A. She was still employed but she was not actively on duty.
Q. Okay. So if she just had back surgery, she would not be a good backup plan for --
MS. CHAPPELL: We object. Calling for conclusion.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Overruled. You can finish your question and then you can answer.
BY MS. PHILPOT:
Q. She was still technically employed but you said she had left in May of 2007 due to back surgery.
Q. Now, does your facility let people who are recovering from back surgery serve as backup emergency plans for students who have severe maladaptive behaviors?
A. This is an unusual case.
Q. That's a yes or no question.
A. Okay. No, then. The answer would be no.
Q. So in fact, it would have been impossible for this person who you described to have served as the backup for XXXXX based on her departure in May and the ARD happening in July?
A. I'm sorry, but I have to clarify this for myself because I don't understand why this
questioning would involve and why this was even brought up.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: Well, no, you don't get to ask that. You don't get to ask that. The attorney for the district opened the door on this, so we just need to find out. The bottom line is we've had testimony that a custodian would be the backup plan at the Oaks, and both sides are trying to explain to me what is meant by that statement. The district got you to say that there was a custodian who had training, et cetera. Now we've learned that that person, however, was not available at the Oaks for XXXXX. Is that --
THE WITNESS: And I think I stated that when we were discussing it, that she was no longer there.
HEARING OFFICER McELVANEY: You did. We didn't take the quantum leap to assume that it was during the time period that xxxxx was being discussed at the ARD. So this is why Ms. Philpot is asking you questions, to follow it up, which she can do that.
BY MS. PHILPOT:
Q. During the ARD, you participated in that ARD by phone; right?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Did you mention that XXXXXX was no longer at the Oaks, that she had left two months prior to the ARD?
In Vidor Independent School District, during an ARD for a student with autism the assistant principal shared with the committee: "I don't believe in all that autistic stuff."
From a South Texas ISD was written: "I kicked him so he would not hurt himself" in a written report by a teacher on her behavioral intervention techniques.
"Mexican girls don't grow that tall" when asked about why there was an all-white volleyball team in a Texas district that is 88% Hispanic.
When asked why a playground was inaccessible to wheelchairs, a school official said: "It was built that way."
In a hearing held in Valparaiso, Indiana, in 2007, the student’s health teacher was asked if he knew what agoraphobia was. He said, "Phobia is fear. Ag. Hm. Is it fear of agricultural products?" Another teacher, who obviously was inservice trained just as thoroughly as the health teacher, answered: "Is it fear of water?"
In Bloomington, Indiana, a teacher opined in 2007 that he was qualified to do one-on-one ABA therapy with a student with autism because he had attended a part-day workshop the day before his testimony.
Written By Melanie Watson, a parent advocate in Northern Texas.
If IEP team members were asked “How many IEP meetings does it take to change a light bulb,” this is what I imagine they might say:
Parent - “The light bulb is not the only thing that’s burned out.”
General Education Teacher - “No one said I was going to have to teach changing light bulbs.” Case Manager - “If you hadn’t wanted so many hours of service in that room, maybe the light bulb wouldn’t have burned out.”
Transition Coordinator - “I think they cover that in life skills.”
Special Education Teacher - “We don’t need a light bulb, it’s not like they’re reading or writing.”
Special Education Director - “We’ll have to just keep changing his placement until we find a room that has a light bulb.”
Resource Teacher - “The side benefit is that we’ll have to bring them up from the basement.”
Teaching Assistant - “We don’t really need a new light bulb, there’s enough light coming off the television.”
School District Attorney - “The regulations don’t require light in the timeout room.”
Dean of Discipline- “Is there supposed to be a light in the time-out room?”
Assistive Technology Team - “First, we have to determine that the light bulb’s really burned out and then we can trial a flashlight.”
School Nurse - “I don’t know how many it will take to change the light bulb, but all the special ed children will have to go home until we do.”
Secretary at the meeting - “OK then, how many minutes of light are we allotting in the IEP?”
Special Education Director - “We are willing to provide nightlights and maybe open the door a crack; we feel this is more than educationally appropriate and all Rowley requires.”
Teacher - (Sobbing) “What do you people expect from us anyway!”
Parent - “I don’t understand why you’re being so difficult, it’s not like we’re asking for a chandelier.”
School Psychologist - “The children are just lazy. If they really wanted to learn, they’d study by candlelight like Abraham Lincoln – and look how successful he was.”
Janitorial Custodian - “I’d like to help you, but I’m not a part of the IEP team.”
Dean of Discipline - "I'm just here to make sure we write it as 'change the light bulb.' The minute anyone uses the word, 'screw' this meeting is over."
Special Education Attorney - “The light bulb is the least important thing that needs to be changed in that classroom.”
Melanie Watson , advocate- Can I please view the District's lightbulb purchase history?
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