Friday, April 04, 2008

And Now We Know...The Rest of the Story

Scatter Boy is gone. During Spring Break his father and step-mother apparently decided that he would be better off living with his biological mother in North Carolina. I'm not sure exactly why they came to this decision. It could have to do with finances, as there are a lot of mouths to feed at home and I know money is tight. Or, Dad, who is quite a disciplinarian, decided he'd had one phone call too many about Scatter Boy discipline issues. Who knows?

Scatter Boy came to The District as a sixth grader, when he came to live with his father. His sixth grade teachers had horrible problems with him, both with academics and behavior. He nearly lived in the guidance office and spent a lot of time getting emotionally worked up over just about everything. The sixth grade teachers had several meetings with his father who insisted that there was nothing wrong with Scatter Boy. He just needed structure and discipline. The records we got from North Carolina gave no indication whatsoever that he was a special education, nor if he was ever tested. Dad said he didn't need testing, so no testing ever happened. He was support-teamed, put into after school tutoring, and non-academically promoted to the seventh grade.

The Team got him this year and went through the same routine that the sixth grade teachers went through. It was obvious that something was wrong with this kid. He couldn't focus. He couldn't keep track of things. He was horribly immature one minute and the next minute he was acting like an adult (he's also a rather tall, lanky kid who looks a bit older than your typical seventh grader). Often times I'd glance over at him and he would be twitching ever so slightly and would have a look in his eyes as if fireworks were going on in his head. We got him into study skills with Mr. Title, and got him into after school tutoring. However, he was still failing every class and struggling. Dad, still, believed that there was nothing wrong with him that a little discipline couldn't fix. After all, it's his kid, so he should know, right?

It was frustrating. We knew there was something going on, but his cumulative file and his father never let on what it was, even when asked.

So, I'm cruising through guidance this afternoon during planning and the Guidance Goddess stops me.

"You are not, not, not, going to believe the phone call I just got."

"Scatter Boy is coming back?" I guessed. There had been an issue with custody papers and we were betting he'd be back. It has, after all, been known to happen.

"Remember when I told you that I got a call from the school he went to and they were asking where his special education file was and I told him that he wasn't special ed?"

"Yeah," I said, wondering where this was going.

"Well, they called back to let me know that they found his special ed file. His fifth grade teacher had it."

I was speechless. "You mean to tell me that he was a special ed student?" I asked.

"Yup," she said.

"And his father never told us, he never told us, and the school never sent us the records because his teacher had it in her room?" I was incredulous.

"That about sums it up," she said.

Mrs. Squirrel walks by around this time and we fill her in on the conversation. As a former special education teacher before she went into administration, Mrs. Squirrel has a soft place in her heart for these kids and is our special ed expert. She was stunned.

"All this time," she said shaking her head, "this kid was in regular classes, and he should have been in special ed classes. All because we never got the file."



The Ubiquitous said...

Why wasn't it picked up in sixth grade, or seventh?

Mrs. Bluebird said...

I guess I didn't make myself clear. We thought that perhaps he was special ed, but we had no proof, no diagnosis, no testing. His elementary school never sent the information that would have told us this. His parent never told us, and would not allow us to test him (we asked) to see if he was. You cannot test a child for special education services without parent permission. Therefore, since we were never given the information, we did the best we could with what we had. You cannot put a kid in special ed classes, or provide special ed services, without a designation of special ed - the law gets very touchy about these things. Just because you suspect something is wrong isn't enough. He did get, however, all the services provided to our at-risk kids, kids who aren't special ed but who still struggle in school. It's a shame that apparently the information we really needed was in his 5th grade teacher's possession all this time.

Ms. Jhee said...

That is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. :(

HappyChyck said...

That's a severe case of parents and teachers failing a kid. At least you and your team tried your best with him.

Mrs. T said...

Why do parents do this? Would a person deny their child access to medical care if the kid needed it? Glasses if they couldn't see? So why do they do this with special ed. services?
So sad.
I'll bet you all felt a bit better knowing that you weren't just crazy, there actually was something about this kid that needed attention.

ms-teacher said...

That is a tragedy, but it's also because of the stigma that's attached to being labeled "special ed." Now if this child had been "gifted," do you think that his dad would have done the same thing?

Until we move past the stigma of this label, stuff like this will continue at great cost to those who would benefit the most from a proper diagnosis.

Teacha said...

I wonder if that file has somehting in it about the medication the child is supposed to receive. It is so said that for two years this kids got lost in the system b/c of paperwork. But even more upsetting is the parents refussal of help.