Maybe you have some wisdom that might help? We welcome all thoughtful and supportive insights.
Here is the basic breakdown as I see it of a very complicated situation.
- In March, we put the Rooster's name on the Open Enrollment list at a school I'll call The W that we heard is more "autism friendly" than the school he attended in kindergarten and first grade. This other school, we hear, has a more actively involved special needs parent body, more active parents overall, a beloved resource teacher, and a very strong principal. We assumed we would not get in, the way you assume you probably aren't going to win the Powerball, but it's surely worth a buck to try.
- In May, we had our IEP. The Roo's current school generously agreed to increase all kinds of services for our boy, mostly because he struggles so much with math and he has extremely slow processing skills. Oh, yeah, and monumental ADD. But every person at that table, without exception, acknowledged what a great boy he is, and that he is bright and charming and learning a lot, with help...
- In June, the W called and said we had won the lottery, (and no that is not a metaphor I'm extending, it's an actual lottery where they supposedly draw names at random to be FAIR) and that our boy would be able to attend their school. Thrilled, my husband and I rushed over to sign the papers a week later as instructed. When we got there, it seems they had discovered my son's IEP. (We had not hidden anything, we completed our application fully and honestly.) The woman who greeted us at the reception desk explained that my son could not go to that school after all. She said, "We are a small school, and we already have a lot of kids with autism."
- This next bullet point represents my husband morphing kind of like Bruce Banner into Lou Ferrigno on some level, and while he remained respectful at all times on the outside, he popped some serious muscles of indignation and outrage on the inside. Let's just say lawyers, civil rights experts, district officials, and experts in education immediately heard from my husband, all in his admirably polite but clear and definitive terms. Let's just say that my husband is a professional writer, and he used the tools of his trade to make his perspective absolutely clear. "This is not just the back of the bus," he explained, "this is being dragged from behind the bus, and it is NOT right, and it will not stand."
- So this weekend we got a call and an official email from the district saying that the principal has been instructed to enroll our son on August 25, and we should go to the school to meet with her again on that date.
Keep him at his old school, where parents have made us feel heartbroken, the kindergarten teacher probably deserved to be fired, and all three of the first grade teachers he had seemed good but only lasted a matter of months? But on the other hand, at his old school, he had some really good service providers, a wonderful IEP, and people who find him adorable. They have told us that we are wanted there, and that's not for nothing, though it is a school with lots of room for improvement, and possibly at risk.
Or move him to the new W school, where the principal has us flagged as troublemakers, we don't know anyone else, and the amazing special ed resource teacher everyone has gushed about for the last 4 years is leaving anyway? But it's a nicer campus with more stability and resources, and better programs.
I didn't even mention the wild card that our daughter, Peaches, is starting kindergarten in a charter school next year. That means a year from now, she should be able to pull in her brother, as a sibling, and we'll have to consider what THOSE changes might mean, besides even more transitions for a boy who doesn't navigate them with particular grace and agility.
So, if you have a positive, encouraging comment to leave, we welcome it. (Of course, trolls and critics need not apply; comments will be moderated thankyouverymuch.)
For now, we breathe a little easier, at least, knowing that we have a choice at all.