Saturday, February 25, 2006

The True Adventures of Goth Girl

We have this student, Goth Girl, who drives just about every other teacher and administrator just up a wall, but whom I happen to really like. Maybe it's because I went through a punk rock phase myself when I was just a tad older than her, but regardless I really adore this kid. That being said she has issues beyond issues.

Goth Girl is really low academically mainly because (I suspect) she's got a really wicked case of ADHD. When she's not medicated (which seems to be most of the time) getting her to sit in her seat for more than 5 minutes is a challenge. Getting her to complete work can also be a struggle especially because she tends to get suspended a lot. However, if she ends up in ISS, she will complete everything and do quite well. She absolutely hates ISS because she's very social (and quite popular - she's a funny, silly, nice kid most of the time) but it's good for her to occasionally end up there so she can get caught up. She ends up in ISS and suspended because she's got one of the worse cases of impulse control I've ever seen. If it pops into her head, she says it or does it, and it's not always appropriate. She absolutely does not think before she says or does anything. She is on the short list for alternative school and she's one kid who I hope doesn't end up there.

Her home life is a bit eratic. Dad is military and when he's gone things tend to get a bit dicey at home - Goth Girl and her mother do not get along which isn't much of a surprise. Most moms (mine was one) aren't delighted when their daughter starts wearing lots of black eyeliner and dressing a bit strange. There's a little sibling in the picture who apparently gets a great deal of attention which I think is a lot of Goth Girl's problem - she's dying for someone to pay attention to her. It didn't take me long to figure this out and I give this kid a lot of attention and consequently she is absolutely never a problem for me. I can usually tell when she's upset and it's not unusual for her to want to talk to me about whatever is bothering her (and it could be anything).

When we had to divide up our kids who were in danger of failing for the year to send them before the support team (a committee that works to see if we can come up with a plan to help these kids), I chose Goth Girl as one of my kids. While going through her file I noticed that we had absolutely no current documentation as to a medical diagnosisof ADHD. The only thing we had was paperwork from 2000! We decided, during this meeting, that we need to get a current medical diagnosis so we can do a 504 for Goth Girl - this is basically a document that states that a student has a medical problem that is interferring with her education, and the accommodations the teachers will make to help this child be successful - usually things like extra testing time, modified work and tests, special seating, etc. Without this document there is no guarantee that the kid will receive the modifications needed to be successful.

So...I call mom (who got the letter about the s-team meeting) that we had met and wanted to do a 504 for Goth Girl, and that we would need some current paperwork from her doctor documenting her ADHD diagnosis. No problem, mom would get it to me. She's delighted we are working to help her daughter.

That was a month ago.

I have since written 3 notes in Goth Girl's agenda asking for this paperwork. I've also talked with a counselor from a local mental health facility where Goth Girl is now apparently going for counseling (Dad is home and decided the family needed some help). The caseworker left us notes asking to call and discuss her academics, so I asked if the caseworker could get the paperwork for me. She said she'd try. Still no paperwork.

We had a meeting set up with Mom on Thursday morning. Goth Girl even mentions to her homeroom teacher that Mom is coming in to see us. She even seems excited that we're meeting with Mom.

Mom does not show.

She also doesn't bother to call and let us know why, or bother to reschedule.

Sigh. Is it any wonder that Goth Girl has issues? When your own mother can't bother to show for a parent meeting (that she scheduled), what kind of message does that send? If I could, I'd take this kid home and raise her myself. She's a wonderful, loving kid if you love her back. But I suspect that's not something she's getting a lot of.

Sad to say...this isn't the first parent that's been a no-show. And it won't be the last. But it still just pisses me off.

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