Today I met with the team at Hope’s school for a local screening to begin the process of determining whether she qualified for a 504 or if I needed to pursue an IEP.
I’ve heard so many horror stories about this initial meeting and this process that I went in ready but anxious.
I am in constant contact with Hope’s teachers (to her utter dismay). I visit her guidance counselor ever so often. I’ve invested a schnitt-load of money on tutors and resources and help her. I drag her to the doctor and share copious notes on my observations and reasons for requesting a medication adjustment.
During all of this, Hope is usually initially pissed, but she knows I’m trying to help.
I felt like I was going into the meeting doing everything I could’ve possibly done prior to asking for external support.
I had been warned about how kind folks would be while they tried to deny services and accommodations.
I really, really didn’t know what to expect.
So, we met, I gave my narrative. There was a lot of documentation about my efforts and involvement thus far. Her teachers came and spoke so highly of her, and echoed my observations and my conclusions about what she needs.
I looked at everyone on the team. The guidance counselor was nodding; the psychologist was typing, nodding and occasionally grimacing. The SPED director was reading stuff that had to legally be read. The social worker looked at me in what looked like an impassive way.
I did my homework, but I just didn’t know how things would turn out.
At the end of our hour together, we had a 504, the paperwork was signed and meetings with individual teachers start at 7:45am tomorrow. When all of my private testing is complete, we’ll revisit the need for more support.
For now, Hope will have her most immediate needs met, and I nearly wept with relief.
As the meeting concluded, the stoic social worker asked to walk me out to the school lobby. He was so kind, so warm, so encouraging, reassuring…he turned out to be a cheerleader. He cheered for us.
Now, I’m not so naïve as to believe it’s really all that easy; I believe we benefitted from a lot of favor from the Holy Homeboy today. And I have no idea what the world will look like after we get the results of Hope’s comprehensive testing back. The team may turn into a frenzy of sharks if we need more support.
What I do know today is that there are good people working at my daughter’s school. I believe they genuinely want my daughter to be successful; I recognize that some of that comes from knowing a bit about her history, but I know it’s genuine. I feel like Hope and I have allies today.
And for today, that’s good enough.
When the team works, the dream works.