The end of the school year is here, which explains my absence from writing for the past couple weeks. I work in the office of a school and have two children so May is a bit hectic. Then, add on the IEP meetings that happen at the end of the school year and I have no time to breath.

I am writing today to tell you all what happened before my daughter’s IEP meeting this year. Everything seemed to go smoothly, all paperwork seemed to be in order. She goes to a small private school, the same one I work at, so I am able to talk to the teacher’s daily, get one on one with the resource teacher, and also see the county teacher weekly that comes in to see kids that had public school IEP’s to help them and/or see how they are progressing. It is a wonderful program that the state of Florida has for school choice. Kit Cat has been doing very well in the small school setting. She has gone from struggling everyday to gaining confidence and this year she is consistently earning mostly B’s on her report card. The improvement in grades is based on many aspects of her learning experience. The small classroom sizes (there are only 12 students in her math class), the one on one with all the teachers (the teachers are always happy to help outside of the classroom), the resource teachers are wonderful at helping her with organization and homework, and the county teachers have helped her with her writing, reading, and vocabulary. All of this support adds up to above average grades.

This should have been a time to celebrate. We have all worked as a village to help my daughter. Both private school and county educators. Kit Cat is the poster child for why school choice and private and county teachers working together will equal success. However, one person in the county office, who has never even met my daughter, decided that her successes and hard work means her IEP should be pulled away from her. She is successful so therefore she should no longer receive help of any kind in the form of an IEP.

I knew that this was a bullying tactic to remove the help from my daughter. Some teacher’s in Florida do not like school choice and do not like that my daughter was failing horribly in the public school setting and is now flourishing in the private schools – proving the importance of school choice for parents. We moved around a bit, so Kit Cat went to public schools in 3 states and struggled in all public schools – so it isn’t Florida’s public schools, it is how public schools are structured. If Kit Cat was going to continue in private schools, this would not have mattered to me. However, she will be going to a public high school in a year. The private school choices for high school are too expensive and several of the public school choices are too good to pass up in our area. As stated in a previous post, the public schools are good schools and Paddy has gone to them for eleven years. So, its not like a hate public schools. Kit Cat will need that IEP when she goes to 9th grade.

So, this county bully wanted to remove the IEP because Kit Cat was doing well in school. She is not a part of the Committee so I knew she has no say in this. An IEP can only be dismissed if the entire committee – parent included – agrees to it. No one on her committee felt removing the IEP was in Kit Cat’s best interest. So, why was this county bully trying so hard to remove the IEP? Simply put, in the safeguards that the county always sends to parents, there is nothing in it about dismissing the IEP. This bully didn’t know that I knew my parental federal rights on this. I made sure that she was aware that I knew my rights and naturally, she backed down before the IEP meeting. But, all this stress on me and Kit Cat’s teachers was unnecessary. This bully didn’t even know that I had a parental right to put in the IEP that my child is medicated for her ADHD. She wanted that removed. She learned a swift lesson in the fact that parents do have rights and she cannot bully me.

I want to make this clear, that this was only one bully. All the other county teachers and county representatives have been doing their jobs beautifully and have truly worked miracles with my daughter. But one bully could have changed my daughters educational future if I didn’t know my rights.

My lesson to you all – make sure you know your federal parental rights. There are classes you can take on your rights. Parents have far more rights than schools like for you to know about. And federal rights always trump state rights. Federal rights also trump county rights. Know your rights if you have a child in the IEP system. There are also parental advocates too. Look them up. Educate yourself. You are the best advocate for your child.

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