Yesterday morning I went to an IPRC meeting for my niece, just so she had another voice on her side. (An IPRC is an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee that decides whether or not a child should be labeled as an exceptional student and places them in a program to meet their needs.)
Several years ago I started doing research on how the school system was failing children with invisible disabilities. The meeting was the first time I had ever really seen anything happen for a child who doesn't appear to have anything "wrong" with her.
I will not lie. I went in geared for a fight.
When I was growing up, I watched my parents fight with two school boards to effectively get my sibling the education that she deserved. I learned, very quickly, that if someone didn't want her in the school, she would be spending most of her time at home. What has happened in the past with my niece has not been very different.
Last year her mother had to beg for the doctor to do something. The child's grades were in the toilet, she was running away from school because the kids were bullying her, meeting after meeting with the administrators proved fruitless. The doctor referred her to the epilepsy classroom at the Hospital for Sick Children.
If a child can change overnight, I believe we witnessed it.
She was placed on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) - which we had requested numerous times from the original school and been denied. Her marks improved. Even more importantly; she improved.
The meeting yesterday was to determine where we can place her next year as the program she is in will not be suitable - she grades out this year.
There was a lot of discussion about her 'home' school and whether or not they should just send her there. That school, they said, may be able to meet her needs. I am sure I turned a ghastly shade of white. I almost had a panic attack for the poor kid.
In the end, they decided to place her in a program not unlike the one she is in now. One with a smaller teacher to student ratio where she can stay focused and get the attention and accommodations that she needs.
One of the things that the board worker repeated to us a few times was that we needed to let the past remain in the past and basically give them a new slate.
In this case, saying that all goes to plan, I think they may have bought themselves one. Hopefully it doesn't get scribbled on.