I belong to a autism list server, and in preparation for my meeting on Friday, I posed the question “if you had a similar meeting to attend, what questions would you ask?”
I got this fabulous response from one of the other parents. I’m copying it in its entirety because I think so many would benefit from it. I hope this particular parent doesn’t mind!
I asked a few questions:
1. Does my son have the right to be attacked?
2. If my son is not allowed to be attacked, what are you doing to prevent it?
3. If you cant be everywhere for everybody, does my son have the right to protect himself?
4. Is it a violation of school policy to be attacked by a bully? If not, why is my son being punished? I am just trying to understand so I can explain it to my child, who is confused by your response to his being attacked.
5. Is it school policy to punish the recipient of an unprovoked attack who does not defend himself? Why/Why not? Please provide me a copy of this policy.
6. Is it school policy to punish the recipient of an unprovoked attack who does defend himself? Why/Why not? Please provide me a copy of this policy.
7. Is it school policy that the recipient of an unprovoked attack must submit to the attack? Please provide me with this policy.
8. Do these policies apply to students with disabilities?
9. Has the other child, or his parents gone on record regarding this incident?
10. Please provide me with the schools policy regarding student interaction that occurs off campus.
I am not a lawyer, but I try to think like one. My presentation is based on the “I am an uninformed parent who needs things explained real simple”. Don’t tell them what they did wrong, ask them to explain EVERY ACTION so YOU can understand. Make them explain themselves instead of trying to convince them they are wrong. ” I am not sure I understand why my son is in trouble for defending himself against an unprovoked attack when this is not against school policy?”
Pretend you are an over-burdened school official who does not have time for yet another hysterical parent who is over-concerned for her child. PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE by anticipating every possible response. This is a tough issue to deal with for parents and school officials. Make the disability part of the discussion. How is the school going to implement the IEP if my son is being attacked and then punished for defending himself against the attack. Your goal is FAPE in the LRE. Does the school see the problem of a bully as having no impact on FAPE or LRE? If so, please show me this policy.
You are not the issue. This was the hardest part for me to deal with. The school tried to make the attacks about my emotional response, not the educational impact on my son. Keep it in their terms and do not let them get you all wound up. They may try and if they do, keep the high ground. “I am sorry you see these attacks upon my son as my issue, but my child needs a secure environment to receive the required FAPE in the LRE even if he did not have an IEP”
Ask to see a copy of the report they filed with the State regarding this incident. Ask them what level of attack warrants State notification and who makes that determination. Ask them when law enforcement is required and who makes that determination and what criteria is used and where that criteria is clearly stated. Make them provide you with written justification for their actions. When they balk, ask why, as a parent, are you not allowed to see this information and where this is stated. As you know, saying “my child needs…..” makes them work, but “I feel…” makes them smile.
Stay strong, be confident, keep putting in the hard work, be nice (this is HARD) and keep it about your son!!! You can do this, its a pain in the ***, but this is part of your path. I tried to see it as an opportunity to educate the school on the negative impact bullies have on their ability to implementing IEP’s.
Praying for you and yours!!