Late last night, I met a friend to see the movie “Man On Wire”, about a French guy who walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers, shortly after they were built in the 1970s. It was an odd way to honor 9/11, maybe, but somehow fitting — and I was glad for the break from my own tight rope walk.
Sophie’s IEP team met yesterday. Crammed around a small table in a portable classroom were:
Me. The kindergarten teacher, physical therapist, speech therapist, adaptive PE teacher, school psychologist and classroom volunteer. The psychologist who evaluated Sophie this summer made a special trip over. And the principal was there.
We began by reviewing Sophie’s progress in therapy. I brought reports from her outside physical therapist and occupational therapist, and we went over her daily schedule and achievements in class. Everything’s going well, I was assured.
Not long after the meeting began, the principal stepped outside. I know she’s busy; her job is obviously a demanding one and she had been checking her phone while we’d been sitting there (to be honest, I itched to check my own, I left work far earlier than I should have, but I put the thing on silent and left it in my purse).
The principal never said she needed to leave early. I wish she had, because I wouldn’t have saved my most significant concerns for the end. But I was nervous. My main goal with this principal, with this school, has been to avoid rocking the boat. I was worried about sharing my concern, which is about Sophie’s safety.
I first shared this concern at the original IEP meeting we had in the spring, at Sophie’s pre-school. The principal was at that meeting, too, but again, slipped out early without saying anything. And so when we got to the part of the meeting where I announced that I believed Sophie needed a parttime aide for transitions (playground, lunch, that sort of thing — any time she could stray from the group), if only for the first two weeks of school — a safety net, so she could get settled in, considering the front gate on the school is left open all day — the pre-school principal said, “Oh, no, I can’t make that decision. That’s the other principal’s decision, and she isn’t here.”
Oh. Actually, as I gently pointed out, I believe the law states that it’s the IEP team’s decision, not the principal’s. But again, I didn’t want to make trouble, so I signed the IEP anyhow — but only after everyone agreed that the “team” would meet again one month into the school year, to review Sophie’s progress and challenges and make any changes needed to the IEP, a binding legal document.
Yesterday was that meeting. Turns out, my concerns are sadly founded. Sophie has already escaped from recess once, and that was morning recess, where there are several adults present.
Lunch time is the real concern. At lunch time at Sophie’s school, there are 92 kindergarteners on the playground, with one adult to watch them. There is no one to help Sophie make the transition from the lunch room to the playground, and just one person to watch her and 91 other kids.
We scheduled yet another meeting with the principal for next week, to review these concerns. This morning she said she left the IEP meeting early, because she had heard it was just a review session (although I’d made clear it wasn’t, weeks ago) and anyhow, she had another meeting to attend that day.
I hope I’ve calmed down by our next meeting, because ever since I heard why she left Sophie’s IEP, I’ve been, well, let’s just call it unhappy.
The principal left Sophie’s IEP so she could run a meeting about a golf tournament.
That pushed me right off the tight rope. Which might be the best thing that could have happened.