Uneducated Department of Education

From today’s outbox of mine:

Thank you for your response.

“I am writing in response to your June 18 e-mail. You have indicated that your daughter has never received instruction in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (i.e., English language arts, mathematics, or science and technology/engineering). This is of some concern, since federal education laws require that all students with disabilities be provided access to, and the opportunity to make progress in, the general curriculum.”

Please note that you are totally avoiding my question once more and changing the subject. I will go along with that for the moment.

My daughter HAS been provided access to the general curriculum all along. She has not been taught to it since she cannot communicate at all. Why would you attempt to teach my daughter square roots when she cannot prove she has a concept of the number “one”? My daughter has never “passed” nor shown she has mastered that which is taught in kindergarten. She cannot speak, write, draw, point, etc. She drools rather well.

“By your account, she also does not have a system of augmentative communication in place, which presumably means she is unable to communicate or demonstrate what she has learned with any degree of regularity or reliability. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires IEP Teams to consider “other areas of educational need” of the student, such as communication.”

The idea of communication, augmented and not, has been on EVERY IEP my daughter has ever had. The goal of her educators, care givers, family, and medical community has always been communication. She has been evaluated repeatedly and every day communication, augmented and not, is attempted, taught and stressed. It is not a matter of not trying to get her to communicate, that is something I work (and pray) for daily with my daughter. What you seem to fail to grasp is that this is beyond our ability. My daughter DOES NOT communicate. THAT IS WHY she does not have a system of augmentative communication in place, because NO ONE has been able to figure one out. Not school, not Children’s Hospital, not her family, her other doctors, other educators. Why do you blame the IEP?

“Both access to the curriculum and communication must be addressed in her Individualized Education Program (IEP). To the extent that they are not addressed, I urge you to discuss these matters with the members of your daughter’s IEP Team and by copy of this e-mail to the Superintendent of Brookline Public Schools, suggest that your daughter’s IEP Team meet to consider all her needs and revise her IEP accordingly.”

My daughter’s IEP has ALWAYS contained communication issues and those curriculum issues that are appropriate. This is not an issue with the IEP nor the IEP team. This is an issue with the MCAS-Alt and I would appreciate your understanding that. Her IEP meets and exceeds all the requirements of the DOE, ADA, and any other acronyms you want to add. I am asking about YOUR testing here, not the school districts oversight of her education, which, by the way, is wonderful.

“Your daughter’s IEP Team is charged with determining, how, not whether, she will participate in MCAS. If it is determined that she will participate via the alternate assessment (MCAS-Alt), the Department stands ready to offer her teachers training and technical assistance on how best to provide a program of standards-based instruction to students with significant disabilities.”

You seem to keep changing the subject. My question has nothing to do with the how or whether she participates in the MCAS, my daughter’s legal or practical access to the curriculum or anything else. My emails to you are simply about YOUR statement:

“I want to assure you that participation in MCAS-Alt will not require your daughter to do anything she does not do every day at school.”

All I ask is that you explain that. Your statement.

Please, Nancy, understand that the IEP team, and the school district are doing a great job for my daughter and everything that is required of them. It is simply the fact that MY DAUGHTER CANNOT COMMUNICATE AT ALL and that is not for lack of trying or expertise, it is due to an act of God. Plain and simple. She cannot answer or signal an answer to anything. She cannot “produce” anything. All she “does” at school is look around, randomly touch things, smile, laugh, and drool. That is not to say that the school is not attempting to teach, that is not to say that she is not learning, it is only to say that she is not communicating that she is learning. Understand the difference.

So then, maybe I can get a simple “yes” or “no” for this MCAS-Alt specific question since you are the Coordinator of such:

Can the IEP team specify that for the MCAS-Alt: “No data points nor data charts will be required and nothing produced by the student will be required and the student will not be required to respond at all to questions or situations presented.” ??

Yes or no? And if we cannot specify that, then, again, please explain your statement “I want to assure you that participation in MCAS-Alt will not require your daughter to do anything she does not do every day at school.”

Thanks for your time and concern.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.