The week has been a challenge. Getting back after a weekend away. A weekend in which we visited what felt like many groups of friends and a few relatives. Julia and I enjoyed seeing her godmother, my Indy friends, the China Sisters, and my niece, nephew, their kids and parents. It all went by quickly and smoothly. Even the drive back was smooth and easy—cloudy driving day, warm enough to take off coats in the car. The niggle in a far back corner of my mind reminding me that there will be goodbye visits that will feel much like this particular weekend. Continue reading
Yesterday’s solstice. The days are gray, almost dark enough to need lights in the house all day. By 3:45, artificial light is mandatory and by 4:30 the sun set. I put on out window, porch and tree lights for the night and left them on until the morning. I want to be part of the calling in the light. Continue reading
I meant to write a few days after the last entry, again last week, again during the weekend. But I did not. Funny thing about that. Not writing, that is. Use it or lose it. How many abilities, gifts, talents is that true for? On a day like today, it feels like everything! Today, the ability to catch a thought, to fashion a phrase and to punctuate is a labor like getting on the treadmill months after the last gym visit. Use of imagination, like a good run, will take warming up for a few days. Or weeks. Continue reading
Loneliness, as in an uncomfortable emotion, passes and I am left alone in the house with Julia back at school and feeling really okay about my aloneness, as in the state of being with no company apart from my own. And the cat.
Quick meds update: Julia is still off her Concerta. Friday night we went to Overture to see School of Rock, a rather kid noisy rock musical with a very enthusiastic cast including about a dozen kids. Julia enjoyed it. So much so that when the kids sang, “Stick it to the Man” (The chorus if not the name of the song), Julia was ready to get up and join the cast on stage, and if not on stage, at least stand up and raise her fist and wave her hair. My hand had to rest gently in her lap to keep her in her seat. We were in the balcony which may have helped keep her in her seat. Had we been in the orchestra . . . Continue reading
After two reminder emails to my list of PTB (“Powers That Be”), Julia was picked up this morning in time to get to school on time. Her case manager texted me that her bus was on time and she was not marked late during first period. I’m holding out for a week before I ‘get off my high horse,’ as my grandma used to say.
However, just because nothing is ever sweet and easy—This morning we went to the door three minutes before her ride has been scheduled to find the bus waiting. I don’t quite know when it got there and I hadn’t received any word that she would be picked up sooner than her scheduled time. I really don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth (Barb, lots of horse idiots today!), but it felt that it was just a wee bit passive aggressive to reschedule the pick up without any word to me. Because the bus has been coming late, we have been going to the door just on time. If we had this morning, the bus would have probably left. I’ll swallow this complaint right here, because I know what response I would get. I’m not even going to add to my thank you that a schedule getting Julia to school on time should have been worked out before school started. Continue reading
This morning I send this email to everyone who I could think of–teachers, school administrators, district administrators and the bus company (I will modify this email slightly and send it every day to my list of PTB until the issue is resolved. At last, for Julia that is.):
My daughter, Julia Schanker, is a sophomore at West High School and has been late to school everyday since school began.
Julia is on the autism spectrum and has an IEP. This year her IEP specifically states the she be on time to school. Badger Bus is responsible for getting Julia to school in the morning. Badger Bus has been late every morning since school has started. To date, Julia has accrued six (6) tardy reports for first period during the first eight (8) days of school. (There was no tardy report on the first day of school and I drove her to school one day.)
Last year, Julia was late for school every day until November 13, because Badger Bus was figuring out how to get her to school on time. In order to get her to school on time last year, I wrote to many of you asking for help. I am not willing to wait until November this year.
On the first day of school this year, I asked the driver why she was late. Her answer was, “there was traffic on Park Street.” For anyone using Park Street on weekday mornings, traffic is not an unusual occurrence. This Monday, when I called Badger Bus, Bob the dispatcher, told me, “[t]his is only the fourth day of school.” Today is Friday, the eighth day of school and the bus was late again today.
Julia’s untimely arrival at school is disturbing on a number of levels.
1. On the personal level, students on the autism spectrum, like Julia, need extra time to prepare for and reach their classrooms. They need time to settle down in a classroom and they need regularity in their days to have successful days. Worrying about getting to school, rushing to leave lunch and coat at a locker and racing to a classroom is a recipe for an unproductive day and eventually inappropriate behavior.
2. Legally, transportation is in Julia’s IEP and thus West High School is not in compliance with Julia’s IEP which is protected by the IDEA. The IEP team also agreed that being on time to school is important for Julia’s education, thus, the district is contractually obligated to get her to school on time. Finally, Julia is being denied FAPE.
3. School wide, Principal Karen Boran sent a strong letter to the West community last week about excessive student tardiness. She has initiated appropriate consequences for excessive and repeated tardiness to classes. Badger Bus is not in compliance with West High School Policy.
4. Finally, on Tuesday, when I dropped Julia off at West at 8:20 (ten minutes after first period began) there were three Badger Bus vehicles dropping off special ed students. I saw another vehicle driving up as I pulled away. At the time, I wondered if tardiness was not a Julia issue but an issue shared by many, many students at West High School who receive Special Education Services and are transported to school by Badger Bus. Indeed, this idea was confirmed by Bob the dispatcher when I spoke with him later this week. He told me that he had a pile of complaints from parents and a large number of those complaints were regarding West High School.
I look forward to hearing back from many of you over the next few days and to addressing this challenge for Julia and for all students receiving special education services quickly and effectively.
“This is only the fourth day of school,” said the Badger Bus Dispatcher when I called I this morning long after Julia was supposed to be picked up for school. Bob, the Dispatcher, who seems like a nice enough guy, called the driver who told Bob that he had been outside our house and waited for minutes before taking off at 7:51; however, we were outside sitting on our steps at 7:48 and no one stopped from the time until just after 8:00. Give or take a few minutes and the possibility that clocks differ, the upshot was that I drove Julia to school and she got there at 8:20. First period begin at 8:10. Continue reading
Every year, on Julia’s first day of school, I have one glorious, luxurious fantasy. I take a long hot, deep bubble and salts bath with a glass of prosecco and a few choice pieces of very dark chocolate waiting for me. Afterwards, I indulge in a massage and facial. I expect nothing more of myself that day other than to enjoy and revel in the indulgence. (FYI: I never indulged in such fantasy raising a typical child and working full time. I usually regretted homework free time together, but that was the extend of first day of school musings.) In reality, I am prone to waste the day, dithering in the house, hanging out much too long on the internet, trying to find reasons not to get off the couch and at the same time, pushing myself to mop up after the summer, take care of money matters, correspondence and everything I’ve put aside in favor of whatever was happening with Julia. That is much closer to what I am doing today. Continue reading
I haven’t published for a bit more than a month, I’ve started a few posts and abandoned them. Each had high emotions and descriptions of broken systems. The landscape and emotions shift too quickly for me to either continue or revise. It seems like a new story every few days. The promising meeting or email results in a step back instead of two steps forward as planned.
Some highlights of the past month from where I sit today, starting with the positive because I have not been keeping the positive in my head recently: Continue reading
High school and Autumn are in full swing and, I am happy to report, my awful cold/ flu-y thing is on the wane. Two packages of Hall’s Cough Drops down and I need to buy one more to get me over longish meetings.
Julia is still in high spirits about high school. There have been small fires almost every day for two weeks for me to put out–no bus, late bus, no homework (Julia needs homework!), near misses on social events, Julia being put on the bus when I am picking her up, problems with Google Classroom on Julia’s iPad which meant no access to her biology text or notes at home, etc., etc. Continue reading