Thursday, January 29, 2009

Olathe kid actually wants to stay in school

You could make jokes about most kids wanting out of school and a kid with special needs wanting to stay in school but if you are a parent of kid with special needs you are always on the offensive regarding your kid's education.

Federal law says they have to educate kids with special needs and make accommodations for them. In addition to basic fairness and humanity there are tangible, good reasons why this is in everyone's best interest. Among them is the notion that the more independent they can become the less of a long term drag they become on the public dollar over their life. That is why they are allowed to start early as three....and have well defined Individual Education Plans (IEP) that map out a specific plan for their education. This is good. Trust me, I definitely have experience in this area.

Some people have good experiences with professionals who have a passion for enriching the lives of people with Special Needs and others have horrible experiences with people who try to get away with doing as little as possible to move them on to someone else. We've worked with both.

We have had mostly great experiences but we always go prepared for a fight if needed to secure our child the services we think are needed. It is a delicate balance sometimes to ask a lot of questions and expect real answers without being a jerk and putting everyone on the defensive.

Of course, the reason this is on my mind this morning is the story of the Olathe family trying to get their kid another year of school to get him ready for college. Dustin Villarreal, 18 and has Apert Syndrome, and his parents seem to be in a never ending fight with their school district over his education.

There have been years of IEPs for this family and to bring up the expectation that he isn't ready for college now seems really, really late. I'd be interested to see if they brought it up earlier. I don't know this family but what I've found, and it is basic common sense, that by getting really involved in the school, knowing the principal before there are problems, being a basic suck up, you will get much more love than if you don't and for your kid it is worth it.

I feel for them but I'm not sure they have the right expectations. I think once you sue the district pretty much all good will goes out the window. I hate to say this but not every kid, with special needs or not, is college material.

Olathe doesn't have the greatest reputation for special education but it isn't horrible either and at least they aren't in Missouri where the problems are legendary.


Anonymous said...

Very Interesting story JOCOMAN...Are the parents at a loss with what to do with their son since he is not ready for college? Perhaps they don't want him at home spending his days watching MacGyver re-runs and eating Pringles so ship him back to High school?? I know that for me I have the tendency to set the bar too low for Wyatt. I am hopeful he could work at Goodwill so that I might benefit from the employee discount..HAHAH- but perhaps a 2 yr. junior collge is in the cards for my "Mr. Trisomy 21"...hard to say at this stage in the game, but I think we will have a firm grasp of Wyatt's abilities sooner rather than later.
Jayne in WI

JOCOeveryman said...

Jayne...yes, I know what you mean. I think being hopeful for independence and a good social network are good goals. College is a great goal.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I'm sure this is a scary time for parents of children with severe disabilities. Their children have finished school, but are not prepared to live alone or get a decent job. Fear is probably driving these parents to make unreasonable demands of the school district. While I can understand their fear, it is difficult to believe their request is reasonable. Maybe they'll get some more money out of the district (and out of the pockets of the taxpayer) but I doubt their son will benefit from it.

JOCOeveryman said...

I'm sure it is scary. It is the most difficult gap between state services under 18 and being independent. I hope they figure it out.