Sunday, September 14, 2014

How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 2

By now, I knew that I needed to get absolutely any communication with the school in writing. Otherwise, it would just be a case of "he said - she said". I needed to document the incident of Nugget's bruises that he came home from school with. I kept Nugget home from school the next day. He did not want to go to school anyway, and we were not going to force him. I needed to find out what had happened. I did not want to "lead" Nugget with my questions, so I would keep my questions rather short and not point fingers at the school, trying to sound as objective as possible with my questions, Nugget told me the whole story. He had been trying to escape some "mean teachers". He ended up running to the library where one of the para's with him had attempted to restrain him. He got scared and tried to "escape school" by running to the front doors. The Principal came out of his office at that time, saw Nugget, and restrained him by "squeezing" him. I was furious and could feel how upset Nugget was by this entire event. I tried as hard as I could to not show my negative feelings about the school around Nugget.

Later that day, instead of replying to my email, the Principal called and explained what had happened. According to the Principal, they had only restrained Nugget once, and it was because he had been kicking the front doors of the school, which are made of glass. The Principal said they had no other choice. Immediately after I got off the phone, I typed up an email to confirm everything the Principal had said about the incident. I then emailed it to the rest of the IEP members, as well as the Principal himself. I felt they were being deceitful about their actions. I believe Nugget had been restrained twice, once by the paraprofessional and once by the Principal. Not to mention, that we had never agreed to such intervention in Nugget's IEP. Next, I called the MN Department of Education, Student Maltreatment Program, and reported the restrain incident. I spoke with an investigator who asked me to send the pictures of the bruises and an investigation would be conducted. I compiled an email and, in addition, I sent a copy of the email I had sent to the school confirming the conversation with the Principal regarding the incident. We were relieved thinking justice would be served.

In the mean time, we had no choice but to send Nugget back to school. He seemed OK about it after I promised him nobody would ever touch him again. An IEP meeting had already been scheduled prior to this incident, and we would once again be meeting to discuss the increase in Nugget's behaviors at school.

Prior to the IEP meeting, we received the call we had been waiting for from the MN Department of Education, Student Maltreatment Program. We were disheartened to learn that they were all of a sudden not going to be opening an investigation. They had been in contact with Nugget's school. The school had never filed a report on the restraining incident. The school was also disputing that a restrain had taken place. We were livid! How could they say that? The Principal called and had admitted to me that a restrain had occurred, yet they were refusing that the incident ever happened to the MN Department of Education?

Already the next day, I received another phone call from the school. They were informing me that they had no choice but to restrain Nugget once again because he was endangering himself when he was wrapping a cord from a blind around his neck. I was once again infuriated by the lack of proactive measures the school was taking with Nugget. The restraining was clearly out of hand, and it was further evident that the school was not using positive behavior intervention techniques. The school, however, felt they had every right to restrain since he was endangering himself. Once again, to document the restrain, I typed up an email and sent it to the school to get it on record. When Nugget came home that day, he basically leaped off of the bus into my arms, sobbing. My heart broke. I was trying to hide my own tears. It was hard. Upon checking his school folder, I found a slip from the school that showed they had made a written report of this particular retraining incident.

Prior to the next IEP meeting which was only a week after the first restraining incident, Nugget had been restrained one more time by his paraprofessional. This would make a total of three restraining incidents in less than a week. It was no wonder that Nugget was no longer wanting to go to school. We didn't want him to go to school, but we did not know what we could do. We had received no help from the MN Department of Education, or the school itself. I emailed the District office, in hopes that they could be of some assistance. That evening, we received a phone call from the Special Education Coordinator at the District Office. Unbeknownst to us, a representative from the District office had already been invited to the next IEP by the school. The next day was the IEP meeting. I put together a file with pictures of Nugget's bruises, a request for an Evaluation and Functional Behavior Analysis to be conducted.

Stay tuned for How the Educational System Failed my Son with Autism - Part 3