Saturday, February 18, 2012

In The Class Of 2012, Maybe???

How on earth could this young lady, all 98 pounds of her cause such a commotion in the eyes of a school district`s administration, all because she is a senior and wants to be included in the activities that being a high school senior bring about. Does anyone remember what being a high school senior meant to them as a teenager? You had made it, you had confidence, friends, and oh so much going on. There were senior photos, parties, class trips, the year book, it was the last time around for everything, you weren`t going to spend to much time doing school work, and no matter what you were going to have fun this year.

That is how things are supposed to work, except when you happen to have a disability which is getting in the way. Lets put the complicated mess this way. Lauren is and has been mainstreamed and included with this class of students from day one. These kids have been her classmates, they have read to her, helped to tie her shoes, opened doors for her, played Sorry and Uno with her, had art, choir, lunch, recess, and media with her. They have invited her to their birthday parties. (I still smile to myself when I see the kid who invited her to his sledding party, but did not bother to tell his mom that she was in a body cast). The mom and I worked things out and they had a great time.
Now because she qualifies and would benefit from extended transition services she can not participate in graduation ceremonies. How do you explain that to her, when she understands that she is a senior and her class is graduating, yet she can not do that? What do you say when she asks how many months until May 31st? How do you address the situation when she is expected to pay class dues yet can not participate or when they send tickets for her to sell to a pancake breakfast which raises money for an after commencement party which she may not be able to attend? This has been one frustrating situation after another to deal with. There have been tears and but Moms and that`s not fair. I totally understand, yet I can not do a thing about it right now.

Lauren`s Dad and I have decided that things need to change, hopefully in time for Lauren, but if not then for all of the other kids and their parents who will be in our situation in the future. We know there are lots of families who can not deal with this so we will. We have been seeking an appropriate solution since May of 2011, with none to date. This now involve the legal system and could get a bit messy, but it is the right thing to do for the kids.

in part what I wrote to address the issue:
There are situations where students have attended four years of high school, whose individual education needs require the continuation of special education and transition services beyond the fourth year. While participating in school students with disabilities gain meaningful connections with a class of typical, age appropriate peers who graduate in four years. A high school commencement ceremony with their peers is an important rite of passage regardless of their ability. There is value in recognizing students accomplishments, even if those are working towards meeting the goals of an IEP. They should be allowed to participate with their peers without forfeiting their continuing special education and transition services.

We need all the prayers we can get, a large, loud cheering section would also be appreciated very much and maybe we will get this resolved soon. I still find it hard to believe that we are even having to deal with this!!!


  1. Have you lined up a school board meeting? I know of at least one family that had to take it there and they did end up winning!
    Our school counselor was adamant at our last IEP meeting that our girls should be allowed the opportunity to "graduate" and feel as much like a typical teenager as possible. Do you have the counselor on your side? Let me know the school board meeting and I'll do my best to be there to help advocate for you.

  2. There are lots of "school people" who are in complete agreement with what we are asking for, but they have to walk carefully here since they have jobs on the line. Unfortunately the district where your girls are attending school has the same policy and if you were seeking extended transition services you would face the same issues we are.

  3. I don't know if this would work, but some years ago a young man from my home community was in this position as well. His fellow classmates protested and demanded he be able to "walk" with his class. It was a battle but the kids were able to make it happen...