My Son

My Son

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: I'm As Disappointed In Lee's Summit as Dr. McGehee Is About The New Commissioner

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: I'm As Disappointed In Lee's Summit as Dr. McGehee Is About The New Commissioner

However, Lee’s Summit Superintendent David McGehee made it known in a tweet after the board’s announcement that he wanted new leadership from outside the department.

“Chance to heal and regain trust is lost,” he wrote. “Shame on you @MOEducation State Board. Reality and perception collide with no surprises here.”

I feel the same every election.  We have the same people on the school board, the city council, the CAC, Lee's Summit Cares, and every other organization in this town.  We need new leadership in Lee's Summit.  We need a chance to heal and regain trust.  We will never see it, either.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fox school administrators book $1,000 hotel rooms for Conference |

Fox school administrators book $1,000 hotel rooms for Conference |

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Former Fox Superintendent Dianne Critchlow wasn’t the only one responsible for a costly trip to an Orlando Conference that cost taxpayers thousand of dollars more than it should have.

A suite for Critchlow was booked at the Hard Rock Hotel for more than $1,000 a night. The rate was dropped to $550 a night when six people and their spouses finally arrived for the conference. A Freedom of information request reveals that the current Acting Superintendent Tim Crutchley actually booked the rooms and the charges were approved by the School Board. The Board still voted to approve the charges that were well above the $110 limit for hotel rooms set by School District Policy.
We caught up with Crutchley to explain why he took an action that violated District policy. He answered that he was acting on orders from Dianne Critchlow. Federal funds were used to pay for this trip. Funds intended to provide professional development training for teachers and administrators. Instead six top school officials and their spouses got to go to a convention on taxpayers dime.
It seems the district has been hording the Federal Funds and had amassed $600,000. They used some of the money to send Critchlow, her husband and other administrators to Orlando.
District’s website:

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Fox C-6 Watchdogs: Critchlow Getting Invoiced for Money She Owes the District - UPDATED: 10/03/2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Fox C-6 Watchdogs: Critchlow Getting Invoiced for Money She Owes the District - UPDATED: 10/03/2014

This week's Arnold-Imperial Leader is reporting that former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow is getting invoiced by the district for money that she improperly charged the district. If the community wasn't already mad enough about the fact that she was purchasing meals and personal items using her district credit card, we now learn that she was double dipping. She was getting reimbursed for personal miles while driving a district owned Chevy Tahoe and filling the tank of the Tahoe using her district credit card while raking in more than $260,000 in salary.

It's really hard sometimes to even come up with the words to write after uncovering or learning about all of the things that we have so far about the misdeeds and dishonest things former superintendent Dianne Critchlow did while "leading" the district. She took advantage of the system in just about every possible way she could.
It's obvious that she used intimidation and fear to keep anyone from reporting what was going on inside the district. If you discovered things and you weren't an employee of the district, she sent you Cease and Desist letters to try and stop you from publicly exposing her misdeeds and shedding light on the problems and cover ups by the district. Her deception and obfuscation worked well in hiding the money that she was collecting both in salary and for items she was purchasing for personal use with her district credit card.

It was also reported in the Arnold-Imperial Leader that Critchlow had the district reimburse her for eye glasses even though the district was already paying for her vision insurance. It was like a FREE RIDE using taxpayer dollars.

What little trust anyone had for her should be completely shattered by now. Facts are being uncovered that are irrefutable and indefensible. People can't even make up some of the things she has done because so many of them are so egregious that they are just too incredible to conceive. As a person who was touting on almost every single document sent out by the district and on banners throughout the district how Fox was a National District of Character, she was far from being representative of a person of character.

I commend all of the teachers, staff, volunteers and administrators who have had to put up with the abuse and intimidation that everyone has put up with for the past 9+ years under our former superintendent's reign of fear. I've been told so many stories in the last couple of months and I'm sure that I will hear many more in the years to come as to what went on behind closed doors was kept from being discussed in public through fear and intimidation.

I certainly hope that morale continues to improve as new leadership gets hired and policies protecting employees are put in place. Bad behavior should result in eventual dismissals or demotions and hopefully fear won't be a factor anymore.

In order for an organization like our school district to truly succeed and excel, there must be that feeling of trust that everyone will always do the right thing and will always take the high road no matter what. You can't have people fearing for their jobs or fearing for their safety. They must be able to trust their supervisors, administrators and coworkers to do the right thing.

There must also be a mutual level of respect for everyone in the organization and outside the organization with the community in order to succeed. Otherwise, it will just be a job for many and students, staff and the community will suffer as a whole.

Our district has a lot of great teachers and staff and despite the lack of respect that they have received from Central Office administrators over the years, they have still gone above and beyond expectations and do what's best for the kids. I would like to say thank you for doing what you do every day despite what you've been through for the past 9+ years. I can see that things are improving albeit not as fast as everyone would like. We know it's going to take time and that there will be many challenges ahead that we will have to overcome and we will overcome them.

It's been very rewarding to hear from so many people who work or have worked in our district tell me that they are so glad that things have finally been exposed and brought to the public's attention. They say that many people have known for a long time but were afraid to speak for fear of retaliation.

I've also been told by many in the district that the start of this school year has been one of the best that they've had in years and that morale has improved quite a bit and that's a good thing!

Hearing those types of comments lets me know that all of my work was worthwhile and that I wasn't wasting my time as some may have wanted you to believe. I won't name any names but I'm sure you might know a few people who didn't want anyone to know about what was getting documented on this blog. <g>

I'm glad I could help and I'm glad that many people are now aware of what's been going on. Societal pressure is what's needed in order to maintain a certain level of trust. Most people expect people to always do the right thing but that doesn't always happen as we've learned here at Fox.

Going forward we need to learn by our mistakes of overly trusting those in charge to do the right thing and not listening to those that speak up and try to bring issues to everyone's attention.

There were many times when I felt like I was working on a huge thesis on how school systems should function as demonstrated by other districts and at the same time documenting how badly a district can behave because there was no pressure or oversight to do the right thing. After several years of not getting anywhere you begin to wonder if things will every change. Now we know it can. It just takes lots of perseverance and motivation. It was a lot like running a marathon but a LOT longer. It was probably more like running the 90 miles to Jefferson City on the Katy Trail but over and over again as the years went by.

As we move forward we need to remember and document what happened so we can put measures in place to keep this sort of thing from happening again in the future. We don't want to go down this road again.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Education Law Center | Bullying

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Education Law Center | Bullying


According to national survey results, bullying affects approximately 30% of students in the United States, whether they are bullies, targets, or both. Bullying may be physical (hitting or punching), verbal (name-calling or teasing), emotional (intimidation through gestures or social exclusion), or, increasingly, cyberbullying (sending insults or threats through electronic communication). Research shows that by creating a climate of fear and disrespect in schools and adversely impacting student learning, bullying negatively impacts not only those directly involved, but also the bystanders to this behavior. Those who are bullied are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, while those who bully are at risk of other antisocial or violent behavior.
New Jersey school districts have been officially required to take measures to prevent and respond to bullying since 2002, when the State's first anti-bullying statute, N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13, was enacted.  In 2007, in L.W. v. Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education, which ELC joined as an amicus, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a school district can be sued for damages, under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), for not responding reasonably to bias-based student-on-student bullying and harassment that creates a hostile educational environment. Relief under the LAD is limited to students who are targeted for bullying based on a characteristic protected by the law, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Following the L.W. decision, the State created the New Jersey Commission on Bullying in Schools to study and recommend ways to strengthen New Jersey's approach to the problem.  Through its active participation in the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, a coalition of advocacy organizations, government agencies, and service providers whose goal is to eliminate bullying in New Jersey's schools, ELC was invited to serve on the law committee established to advise the Commission.
The Commission issued a comprehensive report in 2009, establishing a road map for the legal and policy reforms needed to combat bullying in New Jersey's schools.  That report heavily influenced the drafting of New Jersey's "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act," which was signed into law on January 5, 2011 and is considered to be the strongest anti-bullying legislation in the country.

Current Issues

Under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, effective in the 2011-2012 school year, all New Jersey school districts must strengthen their standards and procedures for preventing, reporting, investigating and responding to incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) of students, both in school and off school premises.  In addition, school districts must comply with enhanced public reporting and training requirements, appoint an Anti-Bullying Specialist and Safety Team at every school, and appoint an Anti-Bullying Coordinator for every district.  The Department of Education also has increased responsibilities under the law, including requirements to investigate HIB complaints that have not been adequately addressed at the local level and to create and administer a Bullying Prevention Fund.
ELC priorities in this area include education about and enforcement of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, providing legal assistance in bullying and harassment cases, and expanding a pool of trained attorneys willing to handle cases pro bono on behalf of children who are bullied in school.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Legal and Appropriate Educational Programs for Children with Autism - West Palm Beach Autism & Education |

Legal and Appropriate Educational Programs for Children with Autism - West Palm Beach Autism & Education |

More children than ever before are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that 1 in 68 eight year-old children has an ASD. This dramatic increase in the prevalence of children with ASD over the past decade, together with the clear benefits of early intervention, have created a need for schools to identify children who may have an autism spectrum condition. It is not unusual for children with milder forms of autism to go undiagnosed until well after entering school. In fact, research indicates that only three percent of children with ASD are identified solely by non-school resources. As a result, school professionals are now more likely to be asked to participate in the screening and identification of children with ASD than at any other time in the past.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are the two major systems used to diagnose and classify children with ASD. The DSM-5 is considered the primary authority in the fields of psychiatric and psychological (clinical) diagnoses, while IDEA is the authority with regard to eligibility decisions for special education. The DSM-IV was developed by clinicians as a diagnostic and classification system for both childhood and adult psychiatric disorders. The IDEA is not a diagnostic system per se, but rather federal legislation designed to ensure the appropriate education of children with special educational needs in our public schools. Unlike the DSM-5, IDEA specifies categories of ‘‘disabilities’’ to determine eligibility for special educational services. The definitions of these categories (there are 13), including autism, are the most widely used classification system in our schools. According to IDEA regulations, the definition of autism is as follows:
(c)(1)(i) Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in this section.
(ii) A child who manifests the characteristics of ‘‘autism’’ after age 3 could be diagnosed as having ‘‘autism’’ if the criteria in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section are satisfied.
This educational definition is considered sufficiently broad and operationally acceptable to accommodate both the clinical and educational descriptions of autism and related disorders. While the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria are professionally helpful, they are neither legally required nor sufficient for determining educational placement. It is state and federal education codes and regulations (not DSM-5) that drive classification and eligibility decisions. Thus, school professionals must ensure that children meet the criteria for autism as outlined by IDEA and may use the DSM-5 to the extent that the diagnostic criteria include the same core behaviors (e.g., difficulties with social interaction, difficulties with communication, and the frequent exhibition of repetitive behaviors or circumscribed interests). Of course, all professionals, whether clinical or school, should have the appropriate training and background related to the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. The identification of autism should be made by a professional team using multiple sources of information, including, but not limited to an interdisciplinary assessment of social behavior, language and communication, adaptive behavior, motor skills, sensory issues, and cognitive functioning to help with intervention planning and determining eligibility for special educational services.
Legal and special education experts recommend the following guidelines to help school districts meet the requirements for providing legally and educationally appropriate programs and services to students with ASD.
1. School districts should ensure that the IEP process follows the procedural requirements of IDEA. This includes actively involving parents in the IEP process and adhering to the time frame requirements for assessment and developing and implementing the student’s IEP. Moreover, parents must be notified of their due process rights. It’s important to recognize that parent-professional communication and collaboration are key components for making educational and program decisions.
2. School districts should make certain that comprehensive, individualized evaluations are completed by school professionals who have knowledge, experience, and expertise in ASD. If qualified personnel are not available, school districts should provide the appropriate training or retain the services of a consultant.
3. School districts should develop IEPs based on the child’s unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Goals for a child with ASD commonly include the areas of communication, social behavior, adaptive skills, challenging behavior, and academic and functional skills. The IEP must address appropriate instructional and curricular modifications, together with related services such as counseling, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physical therapy and transportation needs. Evidence-based instructional strategies should also be adopted to ensure that the IEP is implemented appropriately.
4. School districts should assure that progress monitoring of students with ASD is completed at specified intervals by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who have a knowledge base and experience in autism. This includes collecting evidence-based data to document progress towards achieving IEP goals and to assess program effectiveness.
5. School districts should make every effort to place students in integrated settings to maximize interaction with non-disabled peers. Inclusion with typically developing students is important for a child with ASD as peers provide the best models for language and social skills. However, inclusive education alone is insufficient, evidence-based intervention and training is also necessary to address specific skill deficits. Although the least restrictive environment (LRE) provision of IDEA requires that efforts be made to educate students with special needs in less restrictive settings, IDEA also recognizes that some students may require a more comprehensive program to provide FAPE.
6. School districts should provide on-going training and education in ASD for both parents and professionals. Professionals who are trained in specific methodology and techniques will be most effective in providing the appropriate services and in modifying curriculum based upon the unique needs of the individual child.
References and Further Reading
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Pub. L. No. 108-446, 108th Congress, 2nd Session. (2004).
Mandlawitz, M. R. (2002). The impact of the legal system on educational programming for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 495-508.
National Research Council (2001). Educating children with autism. Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism. C. Lord & J. P. McGee (Eds). Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Wilkinson, L. A. (2010). Best practice in special needs education. In L. A. Wilkinson, A best practice guide to assessment and intervention for autism and Asperger syndrome in schools (pp. 127-146). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Yell, M. L., Katsiyannis, A, Drasgow, E, & Herbst, M. (2003). Developing legally correct and educationally appropriate programs for students with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 182-191.
Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. He is also editor of a new Volume in the APA School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Supreme Court Seeks Input On IDEA Case - Disability Scoop

Supreme Court Seeks Input On IDEA Case - Disability Scoop

The U.S. Supreme Court is asking the Obama administration to weigh in on a case involving who should pay for private school tuition while special education disputes are litigated.
The high court asked the U.S. solicitor general on Monday to provide an opinion on a case known as Ridley School District v. M.R. which centers on the “stay-put” provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Under the law, school districts must pay for students to remain in their existing educational placements while special education disputes between parents and schools are sorted out.
However, the Ridley School District in suburban Philadelphia — joined by a handful of education groups — is arguing that a district’s obligation to pay for a private placement should end once a court rules in the schools’ favor, no matter if a child’s parents continue to pursue their claims.
The issue arose in the case of a child known as E.R. in court papers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia decided earlier this year that the Ridley School District remains responsible for private school tuition for E.R. while the child’s family continues to appeal their dispute even though a lower court found in favor of the district.
The Ridley School District was joined this summer by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the National School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue.
Rather than accept or decline the case, however, the Supreme Court signaled on the first day of its new term that it will seek input from the nation’s solicitor general before determining whether or not to consider the “stay-put” provision

Families Turn To Social Media With Special Ed Complaints - Disability Scoop

Families Turn To Social Media With Special Ed Complaints - Disability Scoop

TAMPA, Fla. — A chance meeting in a Sarasota restaurant put Amanda Taylor, the mother of a student with special needs, in touch with activist Jon Singer.
Taylor described the frustration she was having getting her daughter the services she needed at Robinson Elementary School in Plant City.
Singer, who works in financial services and splits his time between Sarasota and New Jersey, offered to put her story on his Facebook page. Taylor approved the scathing diatribe against the Hillsborough County School District, packaged with pictures of 8-year-old Alexis.
“The day I went public, the school knew,” said Taylor, a divorced mother of four. “Within five hours, the principal, ESE (exceptional student education) specialist and teacher told me, ‘We’re on your side, Amanda.’ I just couldn’t believe what was coming out of their mouths.”
Social media shaming increasingly is a tactic parents employ when calling, emailing or sitting through individualized education program, or IEP, meetings does not get the results they seek.
School officials say they do what is best for children, according to the law and best practices, regardless of what parents might say on social media.
But some parents believe otherwise. Taylor says her campaign got fast attention for Alexis, who has spina bifida, although the issues are far from resolved.
In South Tampa, Henry Frost, who has autism, was able to attend his neighborhood school after a Facebook campaign in late 2012.
“I Stand With Henry,” which featured a video that paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was Henry’s idea, said his mother, Lauri Hunt. “It’s his platform,” she said.
In recent weeks Henry posted that Wilson Middle School took him off the rolls after he missed too many days because of medical issues. On Sept. 16, Henry posted that he’s back in Wilson.
Alexis’ issue was not placement but services. Taylor said her daughter is on-level intellectually but behind academically. She says the trouble started in kindergarten, where Alexis was in a class of children with disabilities. “Every time I came in they would be painting or watching movies,” she said.
In the older grades there were disagreements over whether Alexis could get out of her wheelchair and walk with her leg braces, and whether the staff was putting the braces on her properly. Taylor said Alexis was excluded from recess and did not get resources she needed to catch up academically.
School officials are prohibited by law from discussing individual students publicly, so these accounts come entirely from the parents. The Tampa Bay Times attempted to discuss the social media shaming tactic with Hillsborough County School District’s ESE general manager Maryann Parks, but she declined “because it doesn’t have any effect,” said spokesman Stephen Hegarty.
Federal law assures children with special needs a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
But those terms are open to interpretation. School officials often consider special schools, or special classes that are in some schools but not others, both appropriate and safe.
Advocates of inclusion often push for students to be mixed in with their peers who don’t have disabilities, with aides to support them. Although the district gets federal funding for its roughly 29,000 students with special needs, officials say that funding does not cover all expenses. At the same time, district officials typically say their decisions are not affected by cost.
Singer fought his own very explosive battles with the school district of Tenafly, N.J. “I don’t even call them animals,” he said of the school officials. “It’s like an insult to dogs.”
He created a Facebook page. “I had 8,000 followers,” he said. “People started saying ‘I need your help.’ Others said, ‘I’d like to help.’ “
Taylor’s story appeared on Singer’s page, Drive4Rebecca. He takes most of the credit for terms like “HELLSborough County” and MaryEllen EVILia,” for superintendent MaryEllen Elia. He called her the “Torturer in Chief.”
If Elia and her staff were offended, Taylor said she is fine with that. “I’m offended about the way they’re treating my child,” she said.
Immediately after the posting, she said, the school staff met with her to learn how to put Alexis’ braces on properly. They offered math materials she could use to help Alexis at home, but she said they didn’t follow through and numerous issues remain. “It’s been up and down,” she said.
Singer said he advises parents to “get people involved from day one, the minute you start emailing the superintendent about your child. That way it’s out there.”
Too often, he said, parents assume it’s a zero-sum game, with enough money available for only some children. Or they fear retaliation.
School districts “have lawyers on their side,” Singer said. “It’s so stacked in their favor and the majority of people don’t know their rights and they can’t afford a lawyer.”
Hegarty, of the Hillsborough County School District, said families have many avenues of recourse without resorting to public attacks.
“Parents have lots of different ways to try to communicate: phone calls, emails, calling reporters, calling board members. And now social media,” he said.
“The best way to affect the decision is to sit down in an IEP meeting or other meeting and work with the school district. We have dedicated, caring people who work with families every day and work hard to get to ‘yes’ on some very complicated cases.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

DESE Commissioner Nicastro to retire

DESE Commissioner Nicastro to retire

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Dr. Chris Nicastro, commissioner of education, announced Monday she will retire at the end of the year. The announcement was made on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website.
"This is exactly the right time both personally and professionally for a change in leadership. I will work closely with the State Board and the team to ensure a smooth transition and will be available in the coming months and years as necessary. I will always be a relentless public education advocate in whatever role the future holds," Nicastro said in the statement.
Earlier this year Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) asked for the resignation of Nicastro, citing allegations Nicastro attempted to grant a lucrative contract to CEE-Trust to develop an improvement plan for the Kansas City School District without looking for other options. Nicastro was also accused of changing the words in her department's Fiscal note Estimate.
In July, Nicastro sat down for an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 5's Farrah Fazal. During the interview, she said our public schools are in crisis, and spoke about a new model for the failed Normandy schools for more immediate reading, writing, and math results.
Nicastro has worked as a teacher and administrator in Missouri for nearly 40 years.
Allison Sylte contributed to this report.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Letter I Sent To Tony Stansbury and He and The Entire School Board and District Ignored

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Letter I Sent To Tony Stansbury and He and The Entire School Board and District Ignored

My son is 13 years old and has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS (when he was 5), Kanner's Syndrome (from the E-3 form through the Autism Research Institute)and Asperger's Syndrome, Inattentive ADHD, and Dysgraphia (through Children's Mercy Hospital when he was 13). He had not had a private or school evaluation since he was five years old, until this year, when I requested that his school give him one. I have never had a reason to have him reevaluated until now. That means that he had not been evaluated for seven years.

My son attended Prairie View, in Lee's Summit, from kindergarten until 6th grade. The educators at that school are amazing, caring, and wonderful people. I never had to ask for a thing for my son. They 
knew what he needed and they did it.  They did not address his autism or the issues that he has because of it.  

My son is now in middle school. In the spring of 2005 we met with the people from Prairie View and Pleasant Lea. We came up with provisions for his middle school years. His educators from Prairie View came up with 90% of these provisions based on their direct experience with my son.
He does not like to break rules and his 6th grade teacher STRONGLY suggested that he leave each class a minute or two early. That would keep him out of the halls during the chaos and help him avoid getting a tardy. She stated that, "If he gets a tardy it will ruin his whole day. He will be lost to you for the rest of the day."

They also said that he should have a set of books in each classroom and a set at home. 
This would also help him with getting to his classes on time. It would help with his organizational issues that 
all autistic people suffer from.

We also asked that he have music instead of art. His fine motor skills are not the best and art can be difficult. 

We asked that he have PE at the end of the day so that he wouldn't have to shower. According to the University of North Carolina, bullying can be at it's worse in the shower area. Autistic children are often bullied and my son has not been the exception.

Pleasant Lea did not do any of these things until January when I wrote to the Department of Education, the entire school board, the superintendent, and Project Access. He did not get to leave class early. He did not get a set of books in each classroom or a set at home. He had art. He has PE 6th hour.
He got seven tardies in a span of three weeks. He became depressed. He came home from school one day and put the thermometer in the microwave. Of course that didn't work out the way that he had wanted. He had wanted to make it look like he had a fever.

He ran to his room and put his piggy bank outside of his door. He wanted me to take money out of it to replace what he had broken. I went into his room and he was sobbing. He said, "I can't do anything 
right. Your life would have been better if I had never been born."I told him that a hole in my heart was filled on the day that he was born. He said, "You never would have missed me if you had never known 
me. A different child would have made your life better."

I immediately contacted the school. This was September and I didn't want the school year starting out like this. 

I had a meeting with two teachers, one co-teacher, and two aides. I had talked about this with the assistant principal, but she wasn't available on that day. Neither was the special education coordinator nor the autism coordinator.

I tried to explain his tardies. Five of them were directly due to his having to go to his locker after every class. This would not have been necessary if he had a set of books in each class. One tardy was 
because he couldn't get his PE locker open and he waited until a child from the next hour came in and helped him. One tardy was because he was late to home room. His bus had came back through our 
neighborhood, I witnessed this, twenty minutes after it had picked him up. A student had gotten sick on the bus and the bus driver had brought her back home. This meant that the students got to school 20 
minutes later than normal. He is AUTISTIC. He didn't understand that his schedule had changed by twenty minutes.

His co-teacher, Donetta Horkey,  would not even let me finish a sentence. I didn't get to state what I just stated above. She said that I was wrong and that his bus had never been late. She said that he was just being stubborn and wouldn't take his book to PE. If he took his book to PE, he would be able to go straight to his class after PE instead of his locker. She said that he had not had a problem with his locker and that it was stubbornness that made him late. The rule is that you don't take your books to PE. Once again, he WILL NOT break rules. Real or perceived. 

I told her that I would like to have a book at home, as per our spring conversation. She said that he didn't need a book at home. The information was available online. I told her that I would need a 
username and password. She said that I already had it. I told her that I did not. She said that I did. Finally, another teacher intervened and told me that he would get me the password and username. What if the internet was down? Why must I count on my server when I was supposed to have a book at home?

I explained that my son was depressed and related the incident of the thermometer. I told them that I knew that his depression was a direct result of coming to this school. The co-teacher said that he would be really stressed and want to stay home on Friday. She stated that he was going to have a test and that he was going to flunk it.

I asked her if he was being given tests in small groups as was stated in his IEP. She said that she would have to drag him out into the hall to do that.

My son has always gone to the learning center for his tests. Not once was dragging him out of the class required. As a matter of fact, he has never had any discipline issues until now.

The next day I called the autism coordinator to explain my distress after this meeting. Never have I been treated in such a manner. I am an adult. If the co-teacher treated me this way, how does she treat 
children? She is in charge of children with special needs.

The assistant principal called me that same morning to discuss my son's tardies. Because of the number of the tardies he was to be disciplined. I told her about my meeting. She said that she would talk to the co-teacher, autism coordinator, and special education coordinator. The co-teacher is also my son's home room teacher. They took all but two of his tardies off of his record. This will not change the damage that has been done.

They kept my son out of home room for two weeks and the main teacher took him out into the hall and gave him the test. He passed the test with a "B". 

One day his math teacher asked him to do an assignment. Then she started writing the answers on the board. He thought that he should stop. Her story is that she asked him three times and he didn't 
comply. His story is that he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. He shut down and just sat there. 

She wrote him up. They call it a commitment letter. To my son it was a punitive action. He started crying. She called me to let me know what had happened and that he was crying. I told her that I would cry 
too, if every day that I went to work I was afraid that I was going to get into trouble and I didn't know why. If I didn't understand the 
rules and what was expected of me I would be stressed, too.
  When OCR investigated the district this letter was missing.  Proof that the district has destroyed evidence and committed a crime.

His teacher told me that she felt that he needed to live up to expectations. I told her that I agreed. But, not the expectations of "normal" kids. I told her that I had expectations the day that he was born. Those are gone. I will give you the results of his Vineland testing at the conclusion of this letter.

I received a call from the autism coordinator stating that she was concerned because Jake had become depressed and lethargic. She wanted to have a meeting to make a plan to help Jake. At this point, I had spoken with all of Jake's teachers, the special education coordinator, the assistant principal, and the autism coordinator. I had expressed my concern over my son's depression. At no time was he sent to the counselor's office. 

I went back for another meeting. They felt that we all just needed to be more positive and help my son to be more positive. They asked if my being anxious had caused my son to become anxious. I assured them that I was not anxious until my child began talking about dying.
It was suggested that I take my son to his pediatrician for the depression. I did this. My pediatrician was as confused as I was as to why the school was having such an issue trying to figure out how 
to educate an autistic child. She asked me if they were having budget issues.

We both agreed that my child should not be medicated for a problem at school. She decided that she wanted to call the school and speak with Jake's counselor.

I called the school counselor and told her about my son. My doctor called the counselor as well. It took a week for my doctor to get a call back. Still, my son has never been to the counselor. The school blamed my doctor for the time it took for them to call her.

I researched many autism sites and tried to find information on educating autistic children. Most sites stated that I should offer the school any information that I found so that we could work together on my son's education. 

I contacted Jerry Keimig, Special Education Coordinator for the Lee's Summit School District. I told him that I wanted to have my next meeting with the staff at the school and give them a chance to 
work this out. I told him that I would call him back after my meeting.

I emailed Mr. Keimig after the meeting where we discussed making Jake feel more positive. I told him that I would like to meet with him one-on-one to discuss my issues. I told him that I get easily intimidated 
when I have to face many people at one time. 

Mr. Keimig refused to meet with me one-on-one. He said, "I would be happy to meet with you at any time, but not without direct input from PLMS staff. I will ask that Emily Miller coordinate a meeting with 
the three of us and any additional staff that might have more background on your son. I have none." I would have thought that he could have read my son's file and gotten all of the background that he needed.

I called Mr. Keimig several time the next few days. He WOULD NOT return my phone calls. I wanted to let him know what my pediatrician and I had discussed. 

I met with Mr. Keimig for 15 minutes. I told him that I had read that most autistic children only respond to positive teaching. He told me that I couldn't believe everything that I read. I told him that I wanted my son in a class with a more positive teacher or in a modified curriculum. He told me that he may not be able to help my son in the future. I told him that my son was depressed and that being in this class was making it worse. He told me that it was a good life lesson for my son.
I informed him that I would be contacting Children's Mercy to have my son reevaluated. I told him that my doctor felt that my son's disability was not being addressed and that we would need professional help to draw up his IEP.

It will take six months to get my son even started on the evaluations. Children's Mercy suggested that I contact MPACT so that they could help mean in the interim. 

I contacted the superintendent to complain about Mr. Keimig's lack of understanding about autistic children and his inability to discuss my concerns without totally dismissing me. I was contacted by the principal of Pleasant Lea instead of by the superintendent. I told her everything that I have just stated. She suggested that I contact the assistant superintendent, Dr. Ann Starlin-Horner.

I contacted Dr. Horner. I told her of my concerns. I told her that I was having another meeting with the staff at Pleasant Lea. I told her that I would email all of my correspondence to her. That is when I 
found out that the public can not have access to Administration email addresses. I had to send everything to her secretary. 

Dr. Horner called me back several days later and stated that she had found out that I was having a meeting with the Pleasant Lea staff in two days. She went on to say that she hadn't known about that. By the end of the message she said that I had told her about it and that she had forgotten. She told me that she would contact me after the meeting. She stated that she was writing it on her calendar right 
then. She didn't call me back until I wrote a letter to the superintendent in December. Two months after my initial phone call.

Jake is very smart, but he is getting an "F" in science, language arts, and home economics. He has missed almost 20 days of school because he has been sick so much. I believe that the stress that he 
has been under has affected his health. I have, of course, received the letter threatening me because of his absences.

Jake has to go to his teachers for his make up work and tests that he missed. He never does that and that is why he is flunking. He is supposed to be taking tests in small groups, but they say that they 
will only do that if they "don't have to drag him out of class" to do it. He has never had to be dragged out of class before. It states in his IEP that he is supposed to take tests in small groups and that 
the tests should be read to him. His case manager didn't even know that that was in there.

I had another meeting in December. I must stress that the special education coordinator for his school is trying to do her best. I just don't think that the district has a clear understanding of how to 
educate this unique population of students. 

In our last meeting we decided that he needed a place to go when he gets stressed. It has been working and he is no longer as depressed.

His teachers are supposed to write in his plan book every day so that I know what his assignments were for that day and what we need to get done that night. Only his core classes do this. And they don't do it 
on a consistent basis.

He didn't get books in all of his classrooms until January. He wasn't able to leave any classes early, with the exception of one, until January. The staff felt that it was not necessary and dismissed it. 

My advocate tells me that he should never receive a tardy. She said that his paras should make sure that he gets his work turned in and that they should be responsible for getting his make up work to him. 
That is something I am going to work on for his IEP. I trusted the school to write an IEP that would be the best for my son. I have learned that I will have to have a great deal of input so that it will address my son's disability and the issues that come with it.

I had a meeting with Ann Starlin-Horner in December. We discussed all of these issues. Jake has started chewing again and he has gotten in trouble for chewing in class. They said that it could pose a risk. He is chewing on his fingers.

At our meeting, we decided that Jake should have something appropriate to chew on. They decided that a bracelet, such as Lance Armstrong wears, would be a good alternative. I told them that I didn't feel that it would be good because he would have his wrist at his mouth all day. 

Also at this meeting, Dr. Starlin-Horner said that my son needs to be held accountable for poor decisions. She said that his tardy in PE was an example of him making a poor choice. I told her that I disagreed. He was in a panic about being late and he couldn't get his locker open. He didn't know that he had any choices. His disability wouldn't allow him to focus on his choices. 

After Christmas break they gave him the bracelet to chew on. The first day that he wore it he got into trouble for chewing on it. His teacher told him that "bracelets are for wearing, not for chewing on."

I have been posting on the EFECT board. It is a board for parents of children with disabilities. At my last meeting I noticed that the autism coordinator had a copy of every post that I had posted. She 
tried to hide it, but I saw it as she was searching for a paper. This board is for parents to share concerns, thoughts, issues, etc. It has since been changed so that teachers can not access it.

My son has been reevaluated and a new IEP has been drawn up. At our IEP meeting the school admitted that they had not properly prepared for my son and it was the cause of most of his issues this year.

His co-teacher, that wouldn't let me speak in our first meeting, has now said that he has lost the two books that were kept in the classroom for him. He hasn't lost the books that he had to bring home and then return or the books in other classes. Only the books in her class. Now I have to pay a fine for that. When I asked the principal about this on March 31st, she never responded. I'm sure that they will wait until the day that yearbooks are handed out and then tell him that he doesn't get one because he owes fines.


Sherri R. Tucker

Jake's Vineland Scores

Jacob Tucker was 12 years 9 months old on the interview date of 
3/1/06. Jacob's standard score on the Adaptive Behavior Composite is 
64. The confidence level of 90 percent yields a confidence band of 60 
to 68. Jacob's percentile rank of 1 on the Adaptive Behavior 
Composite indicates that his score is higher than or equal to only 1 
percent of similarly aged individuals in the norm group. His adaptive 
level is rated as Low for his age group. 

1. Jacob's level of adaptive functioning within the Communication 
domain is Moderately Low for his age group. His standard score of 78 
results in a confidence band of 71-85 at the 90 percent confidence 
level. His percentile rank is 7. Thus, his score in this area is 
higher than or equal to only 7 percent of his peers in the normative 
sample. He has an adaptive level of Low for REceptive Communication, 
Adequate for Expressive Communication, and Adequate for Written 
Communication. The lower adaptive level for the Receptive subdomain 
indicates that Jacob has particular trouble with tasks such as 
accurately identifying some of the major body parts, following 
instructions that require and action and an object, or understanding 
an "if-then" statement. Be aware, however, that 17 percent of Jacob's 
Communication score was based on estimated performance. 
Jacob's standard score for the Daily Living Skills domain is 62 which 
results in a confidence band of 57-67 at the 90 percent confidence 
level. This score represents a Low level of adaptive functioning for 
an individual of his age. His percentile rank for the Daily Living 
Skills domain is 1. His adaptive level is Low for all three 

Jacob's level of adaptive functioning within the Socialization domain 
is Low for his age group. His standard score is 60 which results in a 
confidence band of 54-66 at the 90 percent confidence level. His 
percentile rank is 0.4. A look at the subdomain scores within the 
Socialization domain indicates that Jacob's adaptive level is Low for 
all three subdomains (Interpersonal Relationships, Play and Leisure 
Time and Coping Skills). Be aware, however, that 45 percent of 
Jacob's Socialization score was based on estimated performance. 
Jacob's standard score for the Motor Skills domain is 87. Jacob is 
over 6 years old and therefore the standard score of 87 is an 
estimated score. This score represents an Adequate level of adaptive 
functioning for his age group. His percentile rank for this domain is 
19. Jacob's adaptive level is Moderately Low for the Gross Motor 
Skills subdomain and Adequate for the Fine Motor Skills subdomain. 
Jacob's standard score for the Communication domain is significantly 
different from the average for all of the domains. This large a 
difference was also very rarely seen in the normative sample. Such a 
difference indicates that his communication abilities are a strength 
that he may use to compensate for skills in other areas. 
Although Jacob's standard score for the Socialization domain is 
significantly higher than the average for all domains, this 
difference is not particularly unusual. In fact, a difference this 
large occurred in over 16 percent of the cases in the normative 
sample. Such a difference indicates that social abilities are a 
weakness for Jacob relative to his skills in the other areas. 
Activities that target the development of social skills may therefore 
be useful. In fact, attention to socialization may help to raise his 
overall level of adaptive behavior.

I met with the psychologist and got Jake's diagnosis. I'm sure that 
you have already received the handouts that the psychologist gave me 
and that you got the news of his diagnosis, but I thought that I'd 
email you so that you would have the email. I went over it verbally 
and that is a lot to remember.

Jake has been formally diagnosed with: 

Asperger's Syndrome
Inattentive ADHD