I have seen, over the past few months, an attitude that I would like to discuss. It is the attitude about your rights in school. No matter where you live (and our overseas friends, I invite you to enlighten us as to what happens where you are) there are rights that are due your children.
There are so many aspects to this that I am not to going to list all of the scenarios except to say the following: if you went into a store and they charged you the wrong price for something, you would inform them…..right? Strong, firm, polite, and steady……”excuse me, but you charged me the wrong price for this item, look here; this is the price as it is stated.”
And yet, the worry, fear, and absolute stress that I have noticed over the years at addressing something so crucial boggles my mind. I get it. I really do. I have been there with two kids. All schools are different and some schools are completely cooperative and others are not. But the feeling that you are about to go to war before even arriving at your school; the feeling that you have to dodge the plane dropping bombs on you; well we need to change that aspect.
Know that fact going into the discussion. Do your homework. If you do not know what the rights are for your child going into the meeting; you are not ready for the meeting. I am not an attorney. Jill is not an attorney. But I know this, we were ready. Between the two of us we spent hours (that we did not have) familiarizing ourselves with not just what we wanted; but what was expected, and what was our course of action should be hit with a road block.
Everyone was sitting around a table. A sheet with bullet-points was distributed “This”, we were told, “….is your child’s 504 plan”. One sheet of paper. They explained and asked us to sign the bottom and we would be done. “What happens during a lock down or fire drill?” “What is the plan on field trips?” “What is the district stance on help in the classroom?”
And when we got the answer we expected; “Well common sense will prevail at that time.” My answer; “To all of you I ask, if your child’s life was on the line would you rely on common sense over a detailed plan? Would it not make better sense to have as much as we could possible think of so there was/is no guessing, but rather, a plan?”
When I was answer, ‘….but of course…..’ I reached down and pulled out 9 binders that were pages and pages. “I would like to go over these thoughts; we can do it quickly and I would like your opinion. Because these plans are as much for what is not common as well as for everyday occurrences.”
We went over it item by item. They stated they would need to run ‘our plan’ by the attorney for the district—-at the end of the day; two bullet points were requested to be removed. When discussed, we agreed. Our plan was in place.
Now hear me clearly here, I am no brighter than you. My wife and I are not hard-nosed; stick our feet in the sand, our-way-or-the-highway type people; we are just like you.
Nothing more, nothing less. But we knew going in that if we were only going to ‘guess’ what our options were, we would be eaten alive and spit out into the wind. We did our homework. We were very polite. We had answers when there were questions. What we were; was READY.
There is always the unknown factor, and I have talked to tons of parents over the years and there are always exceptions but the majority who had the best outcomes were those who went in with their ‘diabetes arsenal of knowledge’ full to the brim.
The attitude that wins is not ‘wish me luck I have a meeting at the school tomorrow’….the attitude that wins 9 out of 10 times is ‘I sure hope they are as prepared as we are at the meeting tomorrow.”
School personnel have hundreds of kids to think about with hundreds of issues. They DO NOT know all there is to know about YOUR CHILD. Our job is to help them in the process. Again, I KNOW there are always exceptions and some people face real difficulties. One person told me that I had no idea how tough they had it. I listened and when she told me of her discussions with the school and how she reminded them that she paid their salaries; well I knew exactly how that meeting really went.
My point; understanding there are obstacles, road blocks and hurdles to mount, be as informed and as educated as you can when you enter the school and you will end up (in most cases) better than just relying on the school to tell you what they will do.
The item that was not priced correctly——how much more is your child’s well-being worth in comparison?
I am a diabetes dad.
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