Breathe, Mama Bear, Breathe

Last week was the first week my legally blind son was back in school since the holidays. It was also the week that the action items in our formal mediation agreement were to be implemented by his high school.

The amount of internal stress I felt about his return to school took me by surprise. My fight-or-flight instinct kicked-in keeping my muscles tense, my breathing shallow, my mind jumpy and making sleep elusive. Continue reading “Breathe, Mama Bear, Breathe”

Preparing for Battle: Support & Organization

Hi friends, This is my final post in a 3-part series about my family’s Special Education Formal Complaint and Mediation proceeding. If you are a new visitor to this blog, I’d recommend starting with the previous posts: Special Education Mediation Experience and  Formal Complaint & Mediation Processes Explained. Continue reading “Preparing for Battle: Support & Organization”

Formal Complaint & Mediation Processes Explained

As discussed in my previous post we filed a Formal Complaint against our school system. This post will give an overview of what I learned about the complaint and mediation processes.

In early September, I downloaded the “formal complaint form” from our state’s education website. The document was four pages and asked a series of questions about the issues, and how we believed they could be resolved.  The Formal Complaint only covered issues that occurred within a 1-year time period. Near the bottom of the form, there was a question asking if we would be willing to mediate?  I selected “yes” thinking that I wanted to do everything possible to come to a resolution for my son. I submitted the complaint along with 20 pages of detailed records outlining the issues along with two recommendations for resolution.  Then I waited. Continue reading “Formal Complaint & Mediation Processes Explained”

Special Education Mediation Experience

It’s been 5 days since our 8-hour mediation proceeding with the school district. (Yes, 8 long, emotionally draining hours.) The mediation was in response to a formal complaint we filed in September. Our allegations were that the school was not providing a Free Appropriate Public Education and was not upholding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the areas of Accessibility and IEP Implementation.

I’m writing this article to assist other parents of blind children who are facing these issues. I hope to convey the process as we experienced it, as well as the immense emotional toll it took on our family. Continue reading “Special Education Mediation Experience”

As Featured on Life After Sight Loss

It’s Fall and I’ll be super honest, I want to hibernate. I’ve been in a self-imposed cave trying to gather my emotional resources to go through the mediation process against our local school system.  (Click here to read more about the decision to file the complaint with the GADOE.) Conflict resolution is hard and some days it I feel overwhelmed and allow myself to have a full-blown pity party.  Other days I duck and cover and simply stay in and off of social media.  Other days I remember to take care of myself and eat well, meditate, paint and swim. Today, I stuck my head out of my cave long enough to re-connect with people in the sight loss community. And, I was so encouraged to listen to a podcast by my new friend Derek Daniels at Life After Sight Loss. Continue reading “As Featured on Life After Sight Loss”

The Advocacy Tightrope

In student advocacy, partnering with the IEP team is a key concept. However, some days it feels impossible to straddle the divide between my child’s accessibility needs and the school’s ability to provide timely, accessible materials. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I ask myself:

  • What exactly is the issue?
  • What does his team believe is the best answer?
  • What does my child believe is necessary?
  • Is “good enough” okay, or will this problem seriously impact his future?

Continue reading “The Advocacy Tightrope”