I wonder if there are other counties that have the same problem that we do. I can’t imagine that a county would NOT have this problem, and if you don’t, please share with me how you avoid it!
Basically we have a huge number of students with IEP’s in our county who get all sorts of services such as speech, OT, PT, VI, DD/HH, APE and others I’m probably missing. From February on, teachers in the county are scheduling their annual IEP reviews and inviting parents and service providers to come to these meetings in accordance with the due process outlined in the IDEA. The problem is that these itinerant service providers, wonderful as they are, can not be in two places at once. They can either deliver services to a child OR attend an IEP, but not both. In past years, they pretty much spent the last 2 months of the year going to annual IEP reviews and providing very few services to students.
So here is a question for you parents: which would you rather do: have all of the people providing services at your child’s IEP, or have them continue to provide services to all the students in the county?
This is an eternal dilemma with regards to the law that is largely hidden from parents. The due process that is written into the law to protect parents and serve students often seem to work against each other. The law says we have to serve students but it also says we have to conduct annual reviews and develop IEPs that include the parents and all service providers. The problem is that itinerant service providers frequently have caseloads of 50 – 100 students each or even more. We only have two physical therapists and two adaptive PE teachers that serve all the schools in the county, so they simply can not be so many places at once and at no point are the service providers all in the same place at the same time. So for my students, the IEP might be the only time that the itinerant service providers have a chance to meet and collaborate on a specific student. But if they are there, they aren’t providing services.
Teachers, how would you feel about having all of your meetings after school in order to get all of the itinerant services to participate? I bring that up, because it is the only way I can see of avoiding the conflict between providing services and attending the meetings.
As a parent. going after school might be only slightly more convenient but there’s still the issue of childcare for the student and his/her siblings. If there has been sufficient communication throughout the year, having the itinerant service provider at the meeting might not be so crucial as long as a good written summary is provided.
There is probably some way to streamline this process using some of the current technology in order to accommodate all of the diverse schedules. Using the telephone to aet up a teleconference is one way of doing it. Using web tools might also help provide access, especially if providers are at other schools thus cutting down on travel time and expense.