Least Restrictive Setting, My A–

posted Wednesday September 17th, 2008

When I pulled up in front of the school yesterday morning, I noticed the “word of the week,” posted on the school sign, is INITIATIVE.

I had no clue how to apply that. And by the end of the meeting with the principal, my cluelessness was evident. Also my bitchiness.

“Were you raised in New York?” the private psychologist asked me, as we walked outside. 

No, I replied. Why do people always ask me that? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

Maybe it was the full moon. Ms. X said she could feel it in her kids — she called it before she’d even looked at the calendar.

Or maybe I was just doomed. I’m never going to get what I want for Sophie. Clearly bringing the psychologist didn’t do it. Probably the only thing that would work is a lawyer.

The principal DID apologize for abandoning two meetings in a row. She DID acknowledge that I’m not the first parent to complain about playground safety, and teacher/student ratios. But she was quick to tell me her numbers (she says it’s 1 to 88; i’d heard 1 to 92) are perfectly legal.

“I know,” I said. “I researched it. They’re legal because there is no law.”

Whoops. I shouldn’t have said that. She frostily answered that she’s well within the district policy. (So now I need to research THAT.)

She told me that if we write into Sophie’s IEP that someone must walk my child from the cafeteria to the playground each day at lunch, that counts as a personal aide. “And then it wouldn’t be the least restrictive setting for Sophie,” she said, “and you’d need to research other programs in the district.”

(I’m beginning to hate the term “least restrictive setting” as much as I hate the term “retard”.)

I think this is the point in the conversation where I actually used the word bullshit. I saw her literally start to quiver, then stop. I did feel badly, but kept going.

“Look, I KNOW what a personal aide is. You mean to tell me that someone to spend 5 minutes ensuring my kid’s safety is the same as a full time aide in the classroom?”

She claimed that’s how the district sees it. Her suggestion (mandate): Find some sort of solution that doesn’t have to be written into a binding legal document.

Hmmm. Why does that make me nervous?

Everything about this principal makes me nervous. I think about that old neumonic (is that how you spell neumonic? I doubt it) device — “the principal is your pal”. I wish. I’d like to think so. As always, she said all the right things, that she loves Sophie, that she thinks Sophie is in the right place. I feel myself pulled toward her, wanting to like her. But she’s like a boss, and you always have to be careful about getting chummy with the boss.

“Yeah,” I thought, “as long as I don’t ask you for anything.” (At least that one didn’t come out of my mouth.)

And really, the upshot of yesterday’s meeting was that sthe principal took the opportunity to belittle the poor speech therapist who had had the guts to complain to her about the 1 to 92 playground thing. (The speech therapist does duty once a week, so she knows firsthand what it’s like.) Oh, and she was obviously mad at another team member who’d shared information about another kid’s IEP. The principal made it clear she was holding that woman back after the meeting, to let her have it.

I didn’t let anyone have it. Not really. Because I wasn’t sure what to say. If I was writing a story about someone else in this situation, I’d know just what they should say and do, and I know where to go to find the information to make the case. But as such, I’m lost.

Did you enjoy this article?
Share the love
Get updates!
Tags: Filed under: Sophie Goes to Kindergarten by Amysilverman

7 Responses to “Least Restrictive Setting, My A–”

  1. 1:92 playground ratio?!?!? Geez, what’s it going to take? A kid turning up missing? You’d think THAT kind of lawsuit and publicity would be enough to scare up the money to find some playground help!

    Can you go over the principal’s head and talk to the superintendent?

  2. Good Lord, I hate those meetings. It always feels like “Gang up on the Mom” time. As far as someone to walk your daughter down the hall, HOW HARD IS IT? Ridiculous. My son was really prone to wandering off a few years ago, and they arranged a ‘buddy’ for him. Just another kid who would walk with him, to make sure he got to where he needed to go. This is the first year (3rd grade) where we haven’t needed that. And I actually ASKED for a personal aide last year. I didn’t get one, but we did do a total rewrite of his IEP, with some big changes for safety’s sake. Grrr. Oh how I hate those meetings.

  3. Ask for a hearing. You should have a copy of your rights under due process…I have a child at my school with an IEP for her blindness and it is written into the IEP that an “office staff member will personally walk student to the appropriate bus”. BS is right… by Sophie going to another school, that would be MORE restrictive than having a school employee walk her to the cafeteria!!!!!

  4. Well, I can’t help with the actual situation, but here’s a mnemonic device to help you remember how to spell “mnemonic”: Mothers Never Ever Miss Our Noontime IEP Clusterf***.

  5. You made my day and it’s not even 6 a.m. Thanks!

  6. Well,after hearing how many kids are out on the playground at the sametime..many schools have seperate playgrounds or stagger the grade level
    lunches so the ratio isn’t to the max! She’s an idiot.
    FYI: many of my public school grandma friends
    hope to god their grandkids attend a Charter School! Check out your nearest one to you.

  7. Get the assistant. It doesn’t matter if it is the least restrictive environment if it is the most realistic environment.

Leave a Reply

My Heart Can't Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome is available from Amazon and 
Changing Hands Bookstore
. For information about readings and other events, click here.


All content ©Amy Silverman | Site design & integration by New Amsterdam Consulting