Weather or Naught

Published on May 23, 2011 by Jennifer Laviano

 

Okay…I know it’s that time of year again.  IEP Season.  From now through the end of June, I will be in numerous IEP meetings per week, sometimes a few a day.  It’s enough to make a woman cranky.

This isn’t the first year I’ve written about the nauseating experience of hearing the same ridiculous comments and irritating excuses as to why a child isn’t making progress.  This is the 15th IEP season I’ve endured as an attorney, so I’m kind of used to it. 

But look out New Englanders…this year, there’s a new excuse in town.

Snow.

Yes.  Snow.  In Connecticut.  Shocking, I know.

When I am brought into a case, the school district usually reacts in one of two ways.  First is the denial that there’s a problem, accompanied by a sudden, unexplained educational growth spurt that seems to begin from the day of my letter of representation.  I have referred to this in the past as the Sudden Blossoming of the Represented Child

The second response is the “yes we realize the child hasn’t made any real progress but it’s not our fault” approach.  There are any number of reasons given for this one, ranging from questioning medication decisions parents make, to outright blaming it on the parents.  (Of course, this opens a district up to my go-to question in the context of such an allegation:  “did you offer parent training and counselling as a related service in the child’s IEP?”  Almost always, the answer is “no.”  But I digress.)

So, now that I’ve attended several dozen Annual Review IEP meetings this Spring, I have learned the latest IEP meeting excuse for failure in Connecticut, and it is this:  “well, we had SO MANY snow days this year it was hard for ALL OF THE CHILDREN to adjust.  I wouldn’t read too much into it!”

 

If I’d heard this once this year, I might brush it off.  Twice, an eye roll.   But when I’ve heard this very same explanation several times a week, in different districts all over the State, it gets increasingly hard not to lose my cool.

I wonder whether the parents of kids who do not have disabilities would be told this if all of the “regular education” students were failing this school year.  I am guessing not.

So, there you have it.  Be on guard.  This is the excuse du jour. 

Can’t wait until all of my Fall PPTs, when my clients’ summer school regression is blamed on the heat.

9 Responses to Weather or Naught

  1. Terri Mauro
    May 23rd, 2011 | 8:18 pm

    I would personally like to hear a principal tell a roomful of regular-education parents that the school is only obligated to give their kids an “appropriate education,” not, you know, a superlative one. That would be a fun back-to-school night.

  2. Jennifer Laviano
    May 23rd, 2011 | 8:37 pm

    Terri, excellent point, I think this all the time! Please read for example this post about the 35th anniversary of IDEA. Thanks for the comment, Jen http://www.connecticutspecialeducationlawyer.com/current-affairs/35-years-of-idea-a-dream-deferred/

  3. Rochelle
    May 24th, 2011 | 10:03 am

    No … let them tell parents they are only required to offer an adequate education … not even an appropriate one and that progress isn’t guaranteed.

  4. Angela Keef
    May 25th, 2011 | 7:46 pm

    oh I love the “did you offer parent counseling” line….I hadn’t thought of that one!!! Excellent point!

  5. Melissa Willette
    May 26th, 2011 | 6:54 am

    How ironic that I read this the day after I had a team meeting for my daughter. The district has always been in denial but clearly they are taking the stance of “sudden blossoming of the represented child.”

  6. Lillian Wong
    June 20th, 2011 | 12:02 pm

    Love this post! If I had a nickel for every time snow was blamed on a special education violation during these past few months I’d be a rich lady!

  7. Missy Olive
    December 1st, 2011 | 3:06 pm

    Jen, you are brilliant!

  8. Jennifer Laviano
    December 1st, 2011 | 8:17 pm

    Thanks so much for reading!

  9. Sue
    January 11th, 2014 | 8:17 am

    I remembered reading this and I just had to respond. My daughter is now on homebound due to severe anxiety/ depression. The tutors were not told that she is a special education student and that she has modifications/ accommodations. When
    I asked the school to provide this to the tutors, I was told “Oh, that’s my fault. I did not do that due to the rush to get the tutoring scheduled and the weather.” I kid you not.

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