I understand that parents have the right to accept or deny all special education services, but I don't agree that they SHOULD have this right. When you have qualified professionals telling you that your child needs and can benefit from special services, I don't think it should be optional.
If a doctor told you your kid needed surgery (and for the sake of my example, let's say this is a free surgery so we can compare apples to apples), you'd probably listen, right? I mean, of course, you have the option to not follow through, but you probably would move forward with the surgery because it's in the best interest of your child. If not, it could be seen as child endangerment, right?
So, my question is, why does this same mentality not hold true for education?
Instead, I have a student who is not only apathetic about her own education but also doesn't care if she's disrupting the learning of her peers. So, that's what she does. All day long.
I'm not sure why, but my experience has been that these are the students who run the building. For some reason, the rules don't seem to apply to them. Every student in my district gets 10 hall passes per quarter; this student gets 3 per day. That's 15 per week! As you can imagine, she has figured out how to use these passes to get out of any non-preferred activity.
Yesterday, I hit my limit. My para was out for the day, so I was on my own in a class of 30, including 8 special education students. Very needy special education services. I cannot and will not spend my entire day catering to the needs of one student despite the rest, so I gave her the following options:
- Take out your packet and participate in our learning without distracting your peers.
- Go to the office (along with a note explaining her work refusal and disruptive behaviors).
She chose the office, and I have to admit, I was relieved. Yes, it meant more paperwork for me in the end, but my class was free to learn.
It's been so long since I've worked in a school where I even had the option to send a kid out of class for constant disruptions. Part of me was holding my breath, waiting for her to return, but she never came back.
I hope that she has learned that I will not tolerate her shenanigans in my classroom (OMG I feel like an 80 year-old woman saying that), and I will give her every opportunity to prove that today will be a better day.
But I have to be an advocate for the rest of my students. The ones whose parents aren't privy to the fact that their children's learning will be negatively impacted by one child. And I will fight for their right to learn in peace.
And I will pray that my para comes to school today!