Saturday, July 17, 2004

Nothing's ever easy, part 5,672

This is why parents of special education students can never just relax over the summer.

On Thursday, we received the middle school's "dress code" letter, the one that sent my daughter into such a tizzy last summer when she realized she wasn't going to be able to wear her big baggy T-shirts to school. Getting it this year wasn't such a big deal. What was a big deal was that we also received one for my son, who is indeed the right age to start middle school but who, by unanimous and enthusiastic decision of his Child Study Team, was to be staying in elementary school for another year, with the same teacher. Because of that, he didn't go through his school's graduation ceremony, he didn't go to the orientation at the new school, he got a summer assignment from his teacher, everything's set. And yet, here comes this letter, addressing him as an incoming sixth-grader in need of proper dress.

I tried not to panic; it was probably a computer glitch. But the Special Ed office had messed me up before, and you can never just assume that these things will go away if you ignore them. So I called the middle school office and left a message. And then the next day, when I was at the middle school anyway for my daughter's band-camp concert, I stopped by the office and asked: What's up with this? Is he really in your computer to come here next year?

The secretary checked. And he's really in their computer.

I took it pretty calmly -- after all, I've turned up these sorts of glitches way closer to the start of school, and addressing them in July is kind of a luxury -- and went to listen to my daughter play. During intermission, I happened to see the elementary school principal, and asked him if he'd heard of any special-ed shakeup that would move my boy up against everyone's will; but no, the principal was expecting him, and recommended that I call the Special Ed office right away. It's not only parents, apparently, who realize how easily things can get messed up.

My cell phone was dead (as it always is when I need it), but there happened to be a pay phone by the auditorium, and I dropped my 50 cents and called the Special Ed office and sure enough, their paperwork all said he was staying in elementary school. The computer (oh, those dastardly computers!) had probably just assigned a grade based on his age, and the person who took my call said she would correct the error. A pleasant exchange, and all is well. But I'll tell you, I'm going to stop by the middle school office in a week or two and make sure the computer's right. If the last week of August comes and we get a middle-school class schedule for him, I'm not going to be so pleasant.

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