Sunday, May 2, 2010
Oops, We Did It Again
Perry Meridian Middle School in Indianapolis and RISE Special Services have done it again. The story found here at channel 6's website charges that teachers have once again used bad methods to correct good kids. There are better ways to correct behavior, but the Powers That Be don't seem to know it.
Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. To change a placement for a student or start an intervention of any kind, a family needs to be able to produce raw data on that student. In the absence of data, the school can be forced to comply with the request. Within the townships, there seems to be a standing policy to avoid documentation of behaviors. Why? Because a more restrictive environment is costly? Perhaps. It could be laziness. It could be inattention to detail; but, whatever the cause, it's pervasive.
The Director of Special Services has repeatedly denied the consideration of cost at case conference committees discussing placement. He has also discussed at length the 20,000.00 per child cost for sending students to RISE Learning Center in Perry Township. When requested, parents have been told on many occasions that the 20k price tag cannot be, or simply has not been, itemized to determine what the facility truly costs line by line. Some parents charge that it shouldn't be that high. The cost of a satellite classroom is a comparable 7,000.00, and GenEd settings cost even less.
School staff are blowing the whistle in all the townships, telling others that they have been told RLC is not an option for new students. Preschoolers are directed to the least restrictive setting automatically, however, no new students are assigned to the comprehensive intervention classrooms each year. As a parent, I can be my own source on that point. My son's class does not grow. I'd be overjoyed at that fact, if so many kids didn't pop up in bad placements every year. Putting a child in a less restrictive environment should be based on data that is routinely not done in the four townships. I believe some of this is cost cutting, but some of it is something else.
What does a separate facility do for students? Some will tell you they promote discrimination as surely as any segregated school ever did for African-American students. Some say it allows peers to avoid contact with disabled students and sets them up for prejudice. That could be considered true, if general education settings weren't appropriate for verbal, high functioning individuals. Children who need less intervention should ALWAYS be placed in these regular classes. Some would call it warehousing. That is a matter of opinion. I would call a bad placement with insufficient services warehousing, and through no fault of the schools that is exactly what is happening. They just aren't set up for the severely disabled.
What happens at RLC that is so different? Focused attention on behaviors and concentrated effort to make a child as academically and socially abled as possible with the intention of dialing back the intervention is the goal of that facility, which is one of two in the whole state. The goal should be inclusion, but including students without skills makes little sense. Satellite classes are understaffed and under trained in Rise Special Services Program which brings us right back to where this article started. OOPS.
We did it again.