Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dear Principal, You Want Me To Do What?

Dear Principal Puffschmuck,

I received your written instructions today to begin writing Individual Education Programs and scheduling annual review meetings for four special education students that I do not teach. As I discussed with you last week, the following students have never been on any of my rosters. I do not know them:

Jorge Largo
Juliette Johnson

Virginia Gonzalez.

The following student was in my Resource Room class during fall semester 2004. I have not taught him in almost a year:

Dashawn Jackson.

I feel strongly that it is not in these four students’ best interests nor in their parents’ best interests to have me write their IEPs and run their annual review meetings. I am disappointed that no effort was made to pair up special education students with teachers who actually teach and know them. Rather, the assignment of special ed students to teachers for the purpose of writing IEPs was done in a completely random fashion. This is very troubling to me as a special education professional. I attempted to discuss this with you last week, and I am concerned that you indicated that it was not an issue up for discussion.

I am also troubled by the fact that Miss Sandberg has been assigned as the general ed teacher to discuss the educational needs of all special ed students at IEP meetings, regardless of whether or not she actually teaches or knows the students. Miss Sandberg does not, in fact, teach any of the above four students. I do not see how she and I can create meaningful goals and objectives and hold meaningful meetings with the parents of students we’ve never taught, and, in most cases, do not even know. The above four students do have special ed and general ed teachers. Those teachers should be writing the students' Individualized Education Programs and meeting with their parents to discuss their educational needs. This would not only be the best practice for our school; it would also be following basic federal and state education laws.

I am more than happy to write IEPs for my 36 special education students. I am also willing to stay and help other teachers through the IEP writing process and annual review meeting process. I will not, however, prepare or sign any legal special education documents that involve creating detailed educational plans for the above four students or any other students that I do not teach.


Miss Dennis


Anonymous pixiesqueaker said...

Wow. I admire your courage. For some reason, administrators assume that they can jerk around teachers (and it seems to be the case more so with special education teachers- at least from what I have seen) and that needs to not be the case.

Keep us posted on what happens.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

I totally know where you're coming from. I teach middle school ESE Math. I have 57 students. Luckily, only 11 of them are on my caseload. I have an administrator who more or less recognizes our difficult job and tries to make it a little easier. However, he at first insisted that we do the paperwork for any student listed on our caseload regardless of whether they were actually our students. Several of us sat him down and explained the finer points of the IEP process and why it would be detrimental for us to write education plans for students we don't have contact with. He got the message and made the necessary adjustments. I hope your administration does the same. Good luck!!!

9:06 PM  
Anonymous robeli said...

Good luck - hope the union helps you out on this one. And good for you for sticking up for yourself and the students!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous freedome said...

This infuriates me. How can someone think that you could make any kind of contribution to these child's IEP's? I mean, if they wanted you to just facilitate a meeting and give some suggestions, that's one thing. But to write the IEP? and come up with goals? Ridiculous.

Good job for calling them on it.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My opinion is that it was a little restrained, but then again, I go throwing around the word "proctocraniectomy" now and again, indicating who I think really needs one.

(The principal sounds like someone that would get onto that short list in a hurry if my kid were at that school....)

I'm also wondering if any of the parents could take legal action in this matter? I'd be worried about that if I were in a position (e.g., principal) where my ass was high on the list of ones needing to be covered.

(My son's last IEP meeting was attended by, let's see, I think just 7 people from the school, all of whom saw him on a regular basis except maybe the principal, who at least was interested in him, and the diagnostician who evaluated him to get him in the PPCD program in the first place, and who was interested in him, as well.)

9:12 PM  
Blogger Libby said...

Wow, this sounds familiar. I regularly got notices from special education teachers about students who I had never seen or taught. My principal insists we practice inclusion, which to him means you put ALL of your special ed kids in the remedial English class. This is NOT inclusion, just another form of segregation, but he can't see that. And the special education teacher I had this year was only in the classroom about 20 percent of the time, because she spent all of our class time out of the room writing IEP's. Without me. Something is clearly wrong with this system. I love your blog, it's so validating to me as a teacher to know that others are equally frustrated.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Jeanette said...

At several IEP meetings over the years the general ed rep has been someone with absolutely no knowledge of my son. I think the message this sends about the importance of crafting a truly "individualized" educational plan is bad enough ... but the message it sends about how administrators feel about the profession of teaching is even worse.

One of my deepest peeves about the current system is that They keep looking for - and expecting to find - "one size fits all" solutions to educating children. But any good teacher will tell you that there are no such solutions: all children are individuals, with unique profiles of strengths and weaknesses. Teaching is a profession rather than a job precisely because of the intelligence, flexibility and creativity required to recognize and accomodate these differences.

See the problem? Their definition of what consititutes a good teacher - conformity, uniformity - remains fundamentally different from the qualities that genuinely identify a good teacher - flexibility & creativity.

I admit I have begun to lose hope that ever the 'twain shall meet.


2:00 PM  

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