Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
My youngest son is now a freshman in high school. The majority of his classes are in the same room with the special education teacher. The elective classes are within the general education setting. These courses were chosen already with no input from parents. This is quite different from my high functioning son who does his studies in online school. We were given a list of the electives and made the choice based on his interests and career choice for the future.
Since his birthday is in June the IEP meeting usually takes place the same month. With this last meeting being the transition into high school we moved it up to May. When transitioning into Middle School from Elementary School the meeting was so late in the year that the school I had visited and wanted him to attend was no longer an option due to no space for another student.
I much prefer having the IEP held at the end of the school year instead of earlier in the year. A classmate of his that is now also in his classroom had their IEP in December. The parent had visited the school and made that choice in the IEP. I am not sure what transpired at the IEP, but at the start of this school year she was not set to go to this school and the IEP did not include her assistant.
I would suggest to all parents that when it is a transition year you call an IEP meeting the last month of school to go over the transition into the next phase of school and make sure the school and classroom are still suitable for your child and that the assistant and all other needed accommodations are clearly identified.
In High School there are no uniforms to wear on a daily basis and Physical Education is not everyday. My son went from being the only male in a class of girls his last year of Middle School to a room full of mostly boys.
We went to visit the school a few days before it started so my son could see the hallways and his classroom. Due to many changes in our school district a charter Middle School is now sharing the campus. The three special education classrooms I observed months ago were now housing the charter students. Instead of the special education classrooms being in another building they are on the first floor of the main school.
Unfortunately they are at the end of the hallway with the outside door in close range. The campus is closed off so the doors lead to the cafeteria. On the plus side there are two bathrooms across the hall, making the toilet training at school more readily accessible.
The Special Education Coordinator showed us the classroom after looking up his IEP on the computer. They had him listed as a student in the autism classroom instead of the MRS - mental retardation severe class. By looking through his IEP the Coordinator saw that my son had attended the MRS class in Middle School and that this was listed as his placement for High School. He printed out the IEP and put it in the correct teacher's inbox.
I always have an extra copy of the IEP for the aide to take to the new school so that it is readily available, plus it gives him the option of reading over the goals. It would be in the best interest of schools to have a representative from High School to attend IEP transition meetings.
The first two full weeks of school have gone well with the back to school night already taken place. The special education teacher is also the parent to a special needs adult that is residing in a group home. The drawing class teacher has a son with Pervasive Development Disorder. We met the Sergeant for the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC). He assured me they would not be putting my son in the Military.
I was informed by both elective teachers that students are respectful of the special education students and do not laugh or make fun of them. All students are welcomed. This is the school my son will be attending for many years to come.