A district wide notification policy of personnel changes re. students with disabilities.
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Fundamental approaches in education with regards to working with autistic teens highlight that professionals should "prepare the student for all environmental and/or changes in routine, such as assembly, substitute teacher, and rescheduling" in addition to "recognizing that some change in manner or behavior may reflect anxiety (which may be triggered by a [minor] change to routine. (Hemsley, 2017; Moreno, S. J. & O’Neal, C.,2000). As concerned and vested parent in the Albany City School District, I received informal information that my son's one on one aide was to be reassigned in the fall. This was mid July. I followed up and later contacted the CSE chairperson regarding this. I was directed to the person who was in charge of this decision followed up with phone calls, emails, and the like. There was no response. I then went to the school and continued to follow the chain of command as the person did not and has not contacted me to date. Certain members of the school's personnel have been attempting to assist me with this matter; however, in a call made to me yesterday I was informed that this decision was made in APRIL (prior to school ending) and that parents were being notified this week of the change via telephone. When asked why haven't I been formally contacted, they responded "I happened to have contacted them first."
As a parent of an autistic child, we are responsible for aiding our children to adapt to changes. Certainly, we cannot plan for any and all changes--but those which are made in advance should be communicated to us--for we are are our children's advocates and a resource for our educators. The fact that a decision about the professional working with my child was made in April and I wouldn't have known about it until either my son walked in the building the 1st day of school or " a week prior to school starting" with a phone call is alarming. We parents work tirelessly to build relationships with the professionals that work with our children, and get them to open up and build trusting relationships with the people who are our eyes and ears as well as our children's support when we are not present. It is FRIGHTENING that something like this can happen without our input and notification all because "there is no policy in place."
For a district that stresses parental involvement, where is the transparency between staff and families? Where is the respect and regard for students with special needs and the importance of keeping both parents and children informed? Where is the basic professional courtesy of acknowledging the concerns of a parent when contacted? There is a need for transparency and regard... most of all RESPECT from the school district. I have been told that "this is an administrative issue and CSE (Committee on Special Education) has no jurisdiction." However, this is one that is tied to an educational issue. Both parent and child have the right to know the 1:1 paraprofessional working with their child, PRIOR to that professional working with that child....especially when the CSE with both parent and student developed the IEP with that individual's support, professional expertise, and the existing working relationship in mind. Changes of ANY KIND should be planned and communicated to the parent and child prior to the change being made in advance. Written procedures on how to handle events such as these in the future are necessary. This will foster real partnership between the school district, its professionals, parents, students, and advocates.
I am asking for your support so that I may be able to substantiate my appeal to address the Albany City School's Board of Education at its next meeting on September 14th. I have already and will continue to speak to my son's issue through the proper channels individually. However, I am responsible enough to know that there are other families affected by the lack of policies and procedures related to this matter. I would like to address the School Board on the systematic implications of the issue and how it is and will affect the children and families of Albany if a policy is not developed.
Social Responsibility is a duty that highlights that every entity, be it an organization or individual, have an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. I am asking parents who have experienced the same or similar things to sign this petition, so that we are able to have our needs heard. I will post updates, and if I am afforded the chance to speak, I hope that each of you will join me that evening to have your individual voice heard as well. Educators, social workers, concerned community members, advocates, and legislators are welcomed as well.
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