After three weeks and three letters, I finally got a response from our school district. The response was basically, “our recollection of the meeting discussion is different from yours. We will get back to you with an answer next week.” Encouraging, isn’t it?
My investigation into why assistive technology was removed from all private schools in our district has caused me to be even more disgusted by the decisions these so called educators make. I’ve discovered this isn’t even really about the budget, which is at least something I can understand. No, this is simply about how our district has chosen to interpret their legal requirements and responsibilities to non-public students. Our district, I am sad to say, decided that, although they are still required to provide “services” under the law, they are not required to provide “accommodations”. So, Peter still meets weekly with a hearing consultant but does not receive the FM system that actually helps him hear his teacher. Regardless of how the law is interpreted, I simply don’t understand how you can justify providing one without the other. Whatever happened to common sense? Or, more importantly, doing what is right?
I was told that the district does not pay one dime for the FM unit. They only have to request the accommodation based on what is in a student’s IEP or, for non-public students, a Service Plan. Our district will not allow assistive technology requests to be included in a Service Plan. I know this because I argued about it for over an hour last year at Peter’s IEP meeting. The entire thought process behind this decision coupled with constant finger pointing between the local and intermediate school district is repulsive to me. The FM unit Peter used for the last three years is sitting in an office at our intermediate school only because our local district determined that they are not obligated to request it. Legal or not, this is quite simply the wrong decision. All children deserve equitable services as determined under IDEA law, not just those in public schools.
This doesn’t only happen in the school system. As parents of medically complex children, we face similar ridiculous decisions made by insurance companies. They often decide that a surgery needed to improve our child’s airway or enable him to swallow safely is cosmetic and, therefore, not covered. I have also encountered instances where insurance will cover reconstructive surgery but not a prosthetic that would actually be cheaper.
We have to challenge these policies. As parents, we must educate people who establish laws that affect our children. We must hold them accountable for how their decisions impact the lives of our children.