September 9, 2014

Denial of Services

I have a student in one of my classes this year who is labeled ED. ED students are not supposed to be at my school (my district has an established program for these students at another junior high), which means this student's mother has denied services. Unfortunate doesn't even begin to describe this situation. And I don't mean for this student; I'm talking about her peers.

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:
  1. Take out your packet and participate in our learning without distracting your peers.
  2. 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!


  1. well said! Too often the needs of the OTHER children are being seen as collateral damage in these battles. If the parents refused services, they also waive special considerations such as 15 hall passes a week!

  2. I completely agree that these are the ones who run the building. In my district, we can start a "more restrictive placement" package and complete paperwork to have a child moved to the special program. It does take time and energy, but it might be worth it.

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  3. I understand the frustrations. In the (paraphrased) words of my favorite Kevin Henkes' book, "Today was hard. Tomorrow will be better."

  4. I originally read this post in the midst of my crazy dealings with the lifeskills students in my room that has been the biggest mess, and I went back to school the next day with the attitude that its my room and I run the show. It has helped somewhat, so I credit that to this little post. Its so frustrating that parents don't understand that the labels mean nothing its the services that are the most important and that services need to be realistic to the student and also the class as a whole. Erin's quote is the best though...we should start a texting circle of quotes cause we all know the hard days will repeat themselves.

    1. A friend texted me a picture of a mug last week that read, "If Britney Spears can get through 2007, you can get through today!" This is my new mantra! :)