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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does this seem right?

I read a story in the Dallas Morning News today about a family that is getting private school reimbursement from a public school, thanks to a recent decision by the Supreme Court.

The story talks about a kid in Oregon who is referred to as T.A. This boy was tested for learning disabilities, but did not qualify for special ed. Later, it was determined that T.A. had ADHD.

Here's the part that really gets my hackles up. The story states:

"By then, T.A.'s parents had already placed him in a $5,200-a-month private residential school, a step many parents take when they think the public schools fail to provide proper diagnosis of their children's needs or the right programs for them."

Um, what? Over $5K PER MONTH??? I went to private school and it was barely that much for the entire year. Even taking inflation into account (I'm not THAT old), this still seems ridiculously exorbitant!

Secondly, many parents place their kids in outrageously expensive private schools when public schools fail them?? I'm not sure I buy that!

Thirdly, the story rubbed me the wrong way because -- the kid has ADHD!! At least in MY district, that's not considered a learning disability and cannot be used for placement in special ed programs! If all of our ADHD kids were in special ed, we would all be full time special ed teachers!!

This story just seems really scary to me. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I work in a pricey private preschool, and many parents are under the assumption that you can get a better education on a private level once they reach elementary school. I don't necessarily agree. One one level, public school has the resources/teachers to deal with special needs and that's all good. On a private level, some schools take special needs kids to fill their quota and don't have full-time aides available. In this case, are the parents unwilling to medicate the child?

Also, some districts are afraid of lawsuits and bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

There's got to be more to this story than is written (actually DMN/WFAA is notorious for this).

Jason Oller said...

Cuuldnt extreme ADHD be considered a Section 504?

Mister Teacher said...

You are all 3 right. Jason, ADHD CAN be 504, but I just don't like how (according to the story), the kid was found to have ADHD so he was entitled to special ed, even though they didn't find any learning disabilities.

Anonymous, there may very well be more important details to this story.

Lisa, I went to private school all my life, so I can understand that sentiment. I just don't see how anybody could enroll their kid in SUCH an expensive school and then feel entitled to that sort of reimbursement from a public school district! Like there weren't any other private schools available? Or even public schools?

Rebecca said...

I read about this as well. As a school psychologist, it frightens me at the doors this can open up for draining our already under-resourced public schools. I have been in many IEP meetings where the "answer" is to fork over tons of money for a private school for one kid, instead of improving the public school programs for many kids.

And you can bet that the high SES parents get the fancy private schools paid for and my parents' kids get to stay in the crappy program because they can't afford lawyers.

Eeesh! Sorry for the "Debbie Downer" comment! I'm usually a pretty optimistic person, I promise. :)

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Some of these school districts should be afraid of bad publicity because they deserve it.

My son "Elf" is autistic, but the school refused to accomodate his disability. Instead he got locked in a closet for being "manipulative" and "making bad choices" on several occasions. They labelled him ED, disregarding two experts from the city's children's hospital, a local psychologist, his parents and his family doctor. Instead they relied on fill-in-the dot quizzes with about as much scientific value as the "Does He Think You're Hot?" quiz located in a teen magazine.

Now we homeschool. He does not have a behaviour problem. He just needs to have small classes and a little extra help with "transitions." You wouldn't even know he's autistic unless you got him into a large group of children with no support.

He is still traumatized by what happened to him in school. I think he could have done well there had there been more humane consequences for common misbehaviour, and had staff employed a PBS instead of a BIST mentality on my child. Our district uses BIST, and technically kids must comply within TWO seconds, or else. Get yourself an autistic kid who needs some time to get used to the idea that we're doing this or that thing next, and before you know it, he's suspended again because the principal is called in, the child tries to run/ is upset etc. It's called "escalation" and you know? Three extra minutes' warning could have prevented the whole thing. When this cycle is repeated too many times, you have a child who is now conditioned to run or fight at the FIRST sign of trouble rather than waiting for the principal to lock him in the closet.

I applaud rulings like this but feel they really don't level the playing field. Like Rebecca, I feel it's only the well-educated parents, generally, who have the money and knowledge about "how to fight the system." The rest of us? We're stuck with a bad system for special-needs children, and often teachers who don't want kids like ours in their classes. Read the teacher blogs and see how these kids are portrayed, and then think about what that would feel like if it were you or your child they were writing about.

I think the ironic thing about it all is that here, we're paying the system that fights us. We're paying our state lawmakers to craft laws that allow teachers to lock children in these rooms with no parental consent and they don't even have to inform said parents after their children have been restrained, paddled, or otherwise mistreated here in the state of Missouri.

They're immune from prosecution if they make a false abuse report on a parent, though. How fair is that?

Perhaps those of you commenting here are working for "good" schools where you're truly trying to look out for the well-being of the students. Imagine for a minute what it's like to be a parent at a "bad" school and to feel that you are powerless.

Just try.

I used to be a PTA member and regular volunteer. I bought the stupid wrapping paper and everything. Now I vote NO on every bond issue. I believe parents are the best educators of their children because by golly, don't think the school cares. Comments like, "Are the parents unwilling to medicate the child?" just floor me. ADHD is not fatal cancer, nor is it the purview of teachers to make such a recommendation. Yet often, this is EXACTLY the sort of ethos we encounter.