Our Complaint Against EVCS – Special Education, part 3

This sections outlines our experience with special education at EVCS  • I will post the report in 6 installments • This is part 3 • If you would like to read the dang, long pdf version please do so by clicking here

The last Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting for my son took place in March, 2022 and was a challenging experience. I noticed that EVCS and the CSE seemed to be working together to transfer my son from EVCS to an unspecified “smaller classroom” within a Buffalo Public School. Both parties warned me that “jobs were on the line” if I didn’t agree to the recommendation. Due to the apparent errors in the reports, I wrote letters of complaint to the CSE regarding the test and the psychologist who conducted the test.

Ultimately, the CSE decided that my son would continue to receive support in a co-teacher environment at EVCS.

Despite this recommendation, the school continued to call me almost daily. Staff acted strangely and emotionally charged, making vague threats again about their job security if I did not remove my son from EVCS. They told me I needed to place my son at a different school, or else bad things would happen to him (for example, he was becoming a liar).

When I eventually pulled him from the classroom to digital learning, I saw how my son was overwhelmed and undereducated. None of the curriculum had been adjusted to meet his individual needs and I had to read everything to him. After advocating for him with the administration over email, the digital instructor finally made some accommodations to his schoolwork to align with his Individualized Education Program (IEP).

I asked for a meeting to discuss my son’s digital learning and requested that our family therapist be present due to the emotional distress I continued to encounter which I was now feeling as well. The principal informed me that EVCS had retained a lawyer who would be present at the meeting. This raised my suspicion that something potentially illegal was afoot.

I reached out to The Parent Network of Western New York for assistance and was referred to Special Education Quality Assurance (SEQA). The representative listened to my story and informed me that given what I had said, the school was not in compliance with my son’s IEP. I was advised to retain a lawyer, which I did. Patrick McNelis was highly recommended and I would also recommend him if you feel that your child’s school is not in compliance with their 504 plan or IEP.

I found it concerning that my son’s teachers were novice and inexperienced in teaching children with ADHD, despite teaching in a designated special education co-teacher classroom. I advocated for better strategies in the classroom and reached out to organizations and therapists to provide training materials. In previous years, my son’s teachers welcomed additional resources to regulate the classroom for success. However, EVCS no longer employs these qualified special education teachers. According to many teachers and parents, the inexperienced teachers lost control of the classroom and did not provide students with state-mandated special education accommodations. The school lacks a comprehensive special education program and has no extrinsic reward system, resource room with qualified special education teachers, individualized learning, tutoring, or daily physical activities. Without these necessary supports in place, the school relied heavily on suspensions. In EVCS’s school policy, they can expel a student after doling out so many days of suspension. There is no other school or plan for these children once EVCS finishes with them.

The National Disability Rights Network reports that many children with disabilities experience these “Transfers to nowhere” where students are involuntarily shut out of one school into a program that does not exist. Neither the CSE or EVCS offered to transfer my son to any specific classroom or school that could accommodate him, effectively pressuring us to have him leave EVCS to some unspecified location in a district littered with failing and under-resourced schools (Tan, 2015). As parents the prospect was dystopian. When I suggested the where he currently attends, I was told by the CSE that under no circumstances could he gain admittance without first going through a series of various, unnamed special education classrooms throughout the Buffalo Public Schools. We hired a lawyer to negotiate for us.

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Lesa Quale Ferguson

Writer + Picture Taker ^ Image-Maker & Design Web-ber #Ma

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