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A few years ago, our daughter Samantha, had her IEP team inform us that the IEP goals were not achieved. In a very none-worrisome manner, they spoke about Samantha’s lack of progress. We were in shock at how they took something so serious as the lack of progress toward goals in a light manner.
We took home the draft IEP and combed it over. The baselines for each goal they gave us did not give us any answers. We suspected Samantha’s behaviors impeded her ability to learn and participate in the classroom. We requested a Functional Behavior Assessment on her learning to learn behaviors.
We received prior written notice from the district denying the assessment. We then looked over the district’s assessments in other areas and found documentation that supported our request. I started doing classroom observations and found a whole host of problems to include eloping, non-attentiveness, and basically, Samantha was not getting anything out of her daily instruction.
We requested the FBA one more time to be re-considered, but again it was denied. We felt very helpless about what to do next. We were not well informed on what our procedural rights and safeguards were at the time.It took many more observations and much more advocacy on our part, but the entire ordeal made me realize something fundamental. I had, at this time, many years of experience of civil rights advocacy, yet I felt lost in trying to advocate for our daughter. Both my wife and I have an education and speak and write the English language well. Yet, with all of this, we still felt hopeless. It was at this time that I realized I was going to make it my life’s work to assist other parents in advocating for their children with special needs.
It has been many years since I made that choice, and the journey has been a very challenging and difficult one. My preference has been in advocating for systemic changes rather than one to one advocacy, although I do both. I have had many challenges on this journey. My daughter’s school district, the Garden Grove Unified School District, has criminalized my parent advocacy several times in an attempt to silence me. I shall never be deterred!
I have learned we must counter how the school districts coordinate their efforts to take away services from our children. School districts set new trends on how to decrease services and costs for special education that negatively affect our exceptional children. They pool their money and fight our parents into the poor house up to the supreme court.