Happy Mother’s Day! Sometimes moms who make complaints are looked down upon—given the eye roll by certain school officials. But with today’s school reforms, complaints can change a child’s schooling and even provide needed support for teachers and schools.
Today, I pay tribute to a mom, Yadira Calderon, who recognized that, in her child’s case, complaints were justified and critical to her daughter’s success. She spoke out clearly and requested changes to her child’s education in a respectful manner.
Making a complaint can be tough especially if you are a quiet person, or if you trust that those at the school are doing what’s right. Is a complaint necessary? Is it the appropriate decision? Will there be repercussions?
I especially like that over time Yadira has come to recognize difficulties facing teachers. Teachers face hurdles due to overcrowding and sometimes due to a lack of preparation. And she understands that making complaints can be difficult for parents.
Her original complaints are more detailed and can be seen here.
I also especially like this link to many support organizations in the State of Florida for students with autism.
With Yadira’s permission, I condensed several of her complaints for my blog and changed them a little to make them understandable by those outside of her school district.
The Power of Complaints
By Yadira Calderon
I am not afraid. I know there will not be repercussions against my child because I hold the system accountable. If I remain quiet, I am a part of the problem.
Last month, within about 15 days, I filed 3 complaints against Pinellas County Schools (FL) concerning my child’s IEP. In fiscal year 2015-2016, I filed at least 2 complaints. I am honored to be a mom who has contributed to complaints when it comes to my child’s needs.
It is important to write complaints because your child’s IEP is a legal document. If the IEP is not being followed, after communicating in writing with the school and the district highlighting what is obvious, the next step is to file a complaint.
I have heard from many parents who tell me they don’t know how to do it. They worry what if they treat my child bad? Or they claim to be scared.
My response: What is worse, to remain scared or to be a part of your child’s lack of progress? Yes, that is what occurs when you do not file a complaint. Everything remains the same.
A teacher may want to do things differently, but the teacher might be held back by the district. The power of your child’s legal recourse loses all relevance just because a parent does not file a complaint.
How has my daughter benefited from this process? She is regarded as a young person who has the possibility to learn. She is seen as a student in the making. She is regarded as an individual with rights, possibilities, abilities and she is protected by her parent!
This is powerful. Here I share some of my complaints. My advice is to tell you not to hesitate. It’s now or never.
I alleged that the Pinellas County School District did not pursue the highest standard of educating a student with Autism, Dyslexia, and Language Impaired and Specific Learning Disabled to diminish the challenges my daughter faced in writing and answering on point in reading.
In general ed. science my daughter was not performing according to grade level expectations. I knew this for a while and had made various requests to be provided with record of work being done.
The goal was to eliminate the support of the assistant, without providing or making adequate use of accommodations and the Functional Behavioral Assessment. This was added to the fact that her challenge areas of writing and answering on point based on the reading was not being worked on/supported in the general education setting
The general ed. teacher implied my daughter did not want to do the work. However, it was confirmed that they had not received adequate supports/training to guarantee success of a student with an IEP and a diagnosis of autism/specific learning impaired/language. Her elementary school did not have a plan to guarantee success in the transition and learning process of a student with an IEP and a diagnosis. They were not prepared for real academic inclusion.
The remedy or suggested solution which I thought would resolve this problem. She would get a tutor one hour, three times a week, paid for by Pinellas County Schools. The tutor would be a reading specialist trained in Orton Gillingham and multisensory teaching methods. She would work along with my daughter’s reading coach.
During the Extended Learning Period (ELP) which included after school tutoring, my child was seated in front of the computer doing Brain Pop, iReady, iStation or ST Math. I wrote various emails throughout the school year requesting assistance with homework, which included providing one- on-one support to address the challenge areas—comprehension and writing full sentences.
After my complaint, her tutors were to provide more time providing actual assistance and not more than 20-25 minutes on the computer during ELP.
I requested my daughter be provided a page where she could fill in blanks of prepared sentences rather than taking notes with complete sentences. I never received a response regarding this matter and never received material indicating this step was being taken to support this challenge area. Thereby, accommodations were not used accordingly. I registered her for Bridge a program which would help with this matter and where she will not spend so much time in front of the computer.
Yadira V. Calderon has been eating, breathing, sleeping, challenging and accepting autism for the past six years. She is a dedicated warrior, co-author of the soon to be published Autism: The Happy Kingdom and professional self-esteem booster. She speaks three languages and has lived in six countries, having traveled to another twenty-seven.
Her friends know she is determined, persistent, positive, creative, open-minded and realistic, she believes these attributes and newly acquired ones have prepared her to become the mother of eight year-old Thomais. Her daughter drives her to overcome every preconceived notion regarding autism and associated behaviors. Internet: autismhappykingdom.co
And here is a link to a post from Mother’s Day 2015 that may still be helpful.