Yesterday was GL's first day of high school, first day of public school, and first day of anything but home school. On the whole, it went very well, but there was some confusion about his schedule.
Back in May, when we worked out his IEP, we insisted on starting him with one class period a day, and gradually adding to his schedule as he adapted to a full day of classes. At home, when I gave him an assignment, he would hurry to complete it so he could have free time. When he was on-task, he would finish his work in about an hour. His school has four 95-minute class periods a day. We felt this change, on top of the social adjustment of just being in school would be a bit much for him to take all at once. And so it was written in his IEP.
About three weeks before school started, I looked on the school web site to see if we needed to do anything else to complete his enrollment. The web site said there was an online registration, and parents would be getting an instruction packet in the mail the following week. I waited a week, and no packet. I downloaded the packet from the school web site. It said to go online and enter the user name and password that had been mailed with the packet. I called the school to get a user name and password. They said they had no record of GL in their computers. I explained that he was a freshman, but was coming from home school rather than the local middle school, and that we had already met with his IEP team and they had written his IEP. They said we would have to meet with a guidance counselor and set up his schedule before they could put him in the computer.
We made an appointment and met with his guidance counselor, who had been in the IEP meetings, but hadn't said much. He said that since the class period GL was starting with was second period, and was vocational, not academic, he thought it would be better to start him with two classes: his first period class, where he would be in a classroom with his main teacher, and second period, where he would be going through the school collecting the recycling. We hesitated for a moment, but we thought it would be good to start him with an academic class right away and, since he had enjoyed the recycling when he visited, he could probably handle that afterwards. So, under the impression he had cleared it with the necessary people, we agreed.
At New Student Orientation, where freshmen get their official schedules, locker assignments, and combinations, there was none for GL. But we saw his counselor there, and he assured us that the verbally-agreed-on schedule was set.
The day before school started, I got a phone call alerting me that on the first day, there would be a brief homeroom meeting, and first and second period would be delayed. Since his first period class is in his homeroom, it sounded fine to me, so I just confirmed what time to bring him to school and what time to pick him up. I dropped him off for homeroom at the agreed-on time, and all appeared well. When I picked him up, the person who met me at the door said that everything had worked out fine today, but we really needed to stick to his IEP and consult with his teacher before making schedule changes.
I explained that it was fine with us either way, but that his counselor had suggested the change and we agreed, thinking everyone was on board. She said she would check into it, but to bring him only to second period on Friday, and she would find out what to do about his schedule for next week.
Later that afternoon, I called back to find out what time to bring him for second period, since I didn't have the schedule firmly in my memory, and we had nothing in writing. That's when I found out what had happened. His counselor had come up with the idea of the schedule change. He had called GL's teacher at home and, not having a copy of GL's IEP in front of her, she agreed. So he made the change without telling anyone else. We were caught in the middle, not knowing what was going on, and everyone under the impression that we had made the change and had left them out of the decision. I explained that we were happy to go along with either plan, we just needed to know what time to bring GL to school and what time to pick him up.
So it was settled that we would stick to the original plan: GL will start with one class period a day, recycling, second period, and we will meet with his teacher and discuss adjusting his schedule at the parent-teacher conferences at the end of the month.
Labels: autism, highschool, IEP, public school, School Policy, Something to Offend Everyone