During the 2011-2012 school year Josh was in the fifth grade. When I attempted to register him, I was told by faculty that I could not enroll him at our local elementary school, because “he would be going to a different school”. They said it “has a great program for Josh”.
Now I didn’t know anything about these plans for a different school, but if it really had a great program then I was game. Clearly our school wasn’t working out. Fifth grade and still reading on a first grade level isn’t exactly what I would call an adequate education.
I was told the name of the school that Josh was suppose to go to, according to the faculty at our local school, but when I contacted this other school they said that I couldn’t register him there either. What the hell was going on???
I finally contacted the School District’s Central Office and was told that Josh was to go to our local elementary school and I should have never been told otherwise. Apparently there needed to be an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting in order to place him somewhere other than the local school.
I requested a tour of the school and program that the district wanted to place Josh in. They said they would be happy to provide me with such. They scheduled the tour for the day before the IEP meeting. It was when I went on the tour that I realized it was a GA Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS aka Get No Education or Therapeutic Support) outpost!
Now this is exactly what I did not want for Josh! All during fourth grade the Lead Teacher for Special Ed (LTSE) had been pushing this program on me. I even voiced concerns, that were documented in meeting notes, that giving Josh a secondary eligibility of Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD) would be his ticket into psycho-ed ville aka GNETS. They said that because he had been diagnosed with an adjustment disorder (see fourth grade) that he should have this eligibility. I repeatedly declined the GNETS placement and eventually had to get rather aggressive in my response, “This placement is inappropriate for my son, do not mention it to me again!” But here it was, in disguise, and a meeting to place him there was tomorrow!
Now you might be wondering what my aversion is to the program. Well I had pulled the program audit and the results were not good. Additionally the placement is for children with severe emotional disorders. It is not intended for LD (learning disability) kids. Most telling is that the program would receive a year worth of funding, for every child that was enrolled in it for at least ten consecutive days.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a complaint - The state of Georgia discriminated against students with disabilities by funding public schools through a formula that encouraged schools to unnecessarily segregate students with disabilities to receive greater funding.
The US Department of Justice launched an investigation after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the complaint with the department charging the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Currently the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating and I am being interviewed by a DOJ representative on Monday.
What should a parent do in this case? What should I do? Were they just going to put him in this program and I couldn’t stop it? I went home and called Parent to Parent.
Then I rescheduled the IEP meeting. The LTSE tried to guilt me into keeping the original meeting date. “All these people are planning to be here tomorrow, it’s really an inconvenience to reschedule”. I insisted that we reschedule.
Parent to Parent put me in touch with an educational advocate. I believe the only reason that GNETS was taken off the table when we did finally have the IEP meeting is because I had an educational advocate present. The advocate suggested that I ask for another comprehensive evaluation which I did. This evaluation would include a psychological, speech language, occupational therapy, and assistive technology.
I think fifth grade is going to require two separate posts!