I got Max’s final IEP for next year on Friday. It only took two-plus months and ten-plus emails, and all because of one section.
Months ago, I reached the end of my rope about Max’s bus ride. He is on the bus to school for about an hour and twenty minutes, and about 40 minutes coming home. We live maybe fifteen minutes away from the school. It’s not ideal for Max to have extra sitting time, because his muscles tighten up when he’s not moving around and because he gets bored—he is not a kid who’s going to turn to another one on the bus and strike up conversation.
Earlier in the year I complained to the bus company, and got nowhere. So I let it go, which is totally unlike me. But there are only so many battles you can fight. Max was the reason I took it up again—he complained the ride was too long. And Max never complains about bus rides.
I took to Facebook to vent, which is where I learned I could have a shorter bus ride written into his IEP. Yep, it’s true. I got a note from Max’s neurologist and brought it to the IEP. Our district liaison, who’s new to us, is really nice and practical. Boom. Done! Or so I thought.
First, the revised IEP didn’t show up. So I called. When I finally got a copy, I immediately checked out the bus mention. It read: “The length of Max’s bus ride to/from school should be a reasonable length, accommodating for his short attention span, need for sensory input and kinesthetic movement.” Well, nope, “reasonable length” wasn’t going to do because it was too subjective and the bus company could very well claim that an hour and twenty minutes was “reasonable.” I requested the wording that we’d discussed at the IEP be put in: Max should be one of the last students to get on the bus going to school and one of the first to get off coming home.
So then the revised IEP came back with this sentence: “Max should be one of the last students on the bus and one of the first students off.”
Nuh-uh. It needed to specifically say “Max should be one of the last students on the bus in the morning and one of the first students off in the afternoon.” Otherwise, again, the bus company could interpret it however they wanted (read: “Max should be one of the last students on the bus in the afternoon and one of the first students off in the morning”). So it got reworded to say that.
And now, the real challenge: making sure our school district is on top of the bus company to implement it. Over the years, I have literally heard from the driver the night before school started to introduce herself and confirm that she’d be picking up Max the next day. Meanwhile, the person in charge of transportation in our district—let’s call her J—is pretty unresponsive.
I called yesterday to make sure this won’t fall through a crack, and found out that J is on medical leave and S was handling her work. I explained the situation to S, who reassured me she’d stay on top of things.
“I hope so,” I said. “J is not so great at getting back to people.”
“Well, I’m not J!” she said, and I felt somewhat reassured until she noted, “So he has to be the first on the bus and the last off, right?”
And so, this is why I sometimes find myself thinking: WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO HARD?!
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