Tsunami Hits

About a month after Shantel’s assistant, Mrs. N., quit, a new assistant, Miss K. was hired. At first it seemed like she was going to be the perfect match for Shantel, and I really believe she would have been had it not been for the Braille Specialist, Mr. B, allowing her to help him get caught up getting Shantel’s assignments brailled. Miss K had absolutely no experience with braille what so ever, but Mr. B took it upon himself to “teach” her how to run the machine that actually reads the printed word and converts it into braille. Now that sounds easy and it can be IF you know how to read braille so you can ensure materials are brailled correctly.

Braille is made up of six raised dots. And, depending on how the dots are arranged, words are produced forming what is known as grade one braille which is what is used for children first learing to read.  More advanced braille, known as grade two braille, which is what Shantel reads, includes contractions. There are 250 contractions used in grade two braille. If one dot is added or missing, it can throw off a word or meaning of a word. This is especially important when students are doing research papers, english or vocabulary work , or when trying to find a website.

It takes years to become fluent in reading braille, especially grade two braille. One would think, as I certainly did, that a Braille Specialist like Mr. B, who got paid big bucks for his “expertise,” would know better than to allow someone who knew nothing about braille to operate the brailling equipment. However, that is exactly what happened and the result was disastrous!

Shantel started telling me her braille was all wrong. She said the braille was running off the pages, the sentences were repeated over and over or whole sections of information was missing. She couldn’t find websites she needed to get her homework completed etc. She said she reported this to the new assistant and Mr. B, but was told there was nothing wrong with the braille. She said they told her she was just being lazy and didn’t want to do her work. So I sat with Shantel and went through each assignment word by word reading the printed page (thank goodness I had it written into the IEP that the printed page always be attached to the braille) as Shantel told me what she was “seeing” in braille. Sure enough, everything on every assignment was wrong.

I called the new Department Chair, Mrs. J, and insisted she look into these brailling errors immediately. I reminded her that with everyday that passed, Shantel was falling further and further behind on her work. I also reminded her that the school was now operating outside of the IEP which stated that Shantel must have her braille work at the same time as her sighted peers or be given an alternative assignment worth the same amount of credits. Mrs. J told me she had no power to address this because Mr. B reported directly to the District Department Head, Mr R.  Well, as you can imagine, I was furious at this point and demanded yet another IEP meeting with all team members in attendance to address these issues.  The meeting was scheduled for the next morning.

In the IEP meeting I handed out copies of each of the brailling errors as I had documented all of them. The District Department Head, Mr. R, looked surprised but remained very neutral when addressing Mr. B about the errors. Mr. B had every excuse in the world as to why this was not his responsibility and said he just had too much of a workload to quality check everything that was brailled. He said he had students at other schools and none of them were complaining of errors. Then, Miss K began to add her two cents worth saying she knew there were no errors because she did everything right and it was just that Shantel was upset because she had all this work to do. I handed Miss. K some braille papers and asked her to read them to me. Of course she couldn’t so I had Shantel read out loud what she had in front of her. It was an absolute mess. I finally asked Shantel to stop and addressed the IEP team. I told them I was embarrassed for them if they thought they were going to sit there and blame my child for their errors and I demanded a mediation meeting immediately. I told them if this couldn’t be resolved in mediation, I would hire a lawyer and take it all the way to court if necessary.

Mediation meetings are the first step in the process when legal action is being considered. When anyone calls for a meditation meeting the state has 48 hours to respond with a meeting date and time.

Next: Mediation Begins

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 20:01:39

    You would think by now they would realize you are NOT going away…YOU GO GIRL! xoxo


    • beyondcinderella
      Mar 17, 2012 @ 20:39:12

      Yes, frissy, one would think they would have seen the BIG PICTURE… but stay tuned to see how far I had to go to get them to do their jobs! Thanks for your continued comments and support. Love you MORE!


  2. John Kirnberger
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 23:04:24

    It’a never anyone’s fault that is in charge. What a bunch of Doobs! By far Shantel is not lazy but wants to get it right! How can those folks blame her when the don’t know WTF they are doing. Good luck Sis and keep your cool for you have them on the run right now. Love you Sis, Bro JB


    • beyondcinderella
      Mar 17, 2012 @ 23:33:21

      Thanks so much Bro for your comment on my blog. I look forward to your future comments. Yes, you nailed it Bro in that no one wanted to take responsibility for anything they did wrong. I think they counted on me not knowing what to do. Little did they know I had to learn really fast how to support what I said in these meetings. But, I would stop at nothing to make sure Shantel had what she needed to get through High School. Stay tuned & know I love you. Sis


  3. Karen Reno
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 01:52:58

    I just caught up with reading your posts Mar 7 – 17. I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions from anger and frustration to awe with the way you handle things. I can’t imagine a mother who has to work full-time outside the home managing problems like this with their special needs child. This became your full-time job, didn’t it? I am looking forward to reading your future posts. You are a great writer and an even greater mother. You continue to inspire me.


  4. Megs
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 20:02:50

    I am so proud of you for kicking some a__ and taking names later! You go girl!


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