T is in his third year of preschool this year. He turned 5 this summer and was age-eligible for Kindergarten by 2 weeks - meaning he would have been one of the youngest in his class. It was an easy decision to give him one more year, especially since we heard about another developmental preschool in the district that was particularly good with kids with autism. We worked for 6 months to get him into this classroom, and have been thrilled with his progress. This teacher is truly gifted with teaching these kids, loves them fiercely and demands alot from them, and gets it - patiently, quietly, calmly. I've considered keeping him in this class for even one more year since he's doing so well.
Skip ahead to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I get a phone call from this amazing teacher to confess that T hasn't been getting the speech services he's legally required to get, that she's been less than forthcoming about this fact when I've asked about it, that she feels that she's been forced to run an illegal classroom because of it, and that this is the last straw for her after 10 years of struggles with the administration and...she's resigned.
I actually felt the ground move under my feet when she said those words.
I won't bore you with the details, which are many. We have only heard the teacher's side of the story, and it is clear that there is more, much more to this whole situation. The night that this all happened I said to Rob that this may be the beginning of something really, really big with the school district - just the tip of the iceberg. I will keep Chesterley's Child posted on how this thing plays out. But Rob & I have a decision to make: do we keep T in this classroom with an unknown entity coming in to teach in January, or do we pull him for the rest of this school year and send him to the classroom this teacher intends to have set up in time, keeping him with the teacher who has done magical things with him and who may be his best hope for being ready for Kindergarten in the fall?
In the meantime, Rob & I along with the other parents have been to the school board to tell them about the lack of speech services. Somehow I became the spokesperson for all of us, and addressed the board myself. I am glad to report that two members replied to me immediately after I spoke, both voicing their concern about this and their support for our children getting everything they need. One had a child who received speech services and was very concerned that our children weren't receiving them. Several others approached me after the meeting to thank me for speaking that night (!) and asked me to come back and keep them posted. I'm feeling like we have the school board behind us on this, and we certainly have the law on our side. So here we go.
I just didn't think we'd have to deal with all of this in preschool. Shades of challenges to come. Better add "expert in special education law" to my list of roles I play.