Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Fun (NOT!) Of Online Public School for Special Needs Children

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It has been awhile since I was last able to post.  So many things have happened with the online public school my children were attending.   I will explain the challenges I have seen in having children with special needs trying to complete an online public education.

One of the first problems that comes to mind is: Do the online public schools realize they MUST follow IDEA? Right before Christmas break I was able to get the IEPs for the children completed with the school.  As a parent who has not had their children in online public school before I did not really understand the 2 tiers of service offered by the school. There was no real continuum of service at the school.  You either get A or B; there is no other choice!

James was placed in Tier A.  There he was expected to attend two online classes a day and still carry the load of online lessons.  This was not what I was initially told. I was told he would no the classes and the lesson would be completed in the class.  Nope.  Margaret was placed in Tier A for English and Tier B for Math. The common core math concepts taught (base 10, confusing work problems, and multiple ways shown to solve a problem were confusing) were WAY over Margaret's head.  She was not learning anything.  Her dyscalculia is quite severe.  :(  Joseph was placed in Tier B.  The pace there was WAY behind and WAY too slow!  Joseph would never learn much information of quality and he would never have caught up (or had a chance to catch up) with the pace he was being taught.

The biggest issue I had with the school was the expectation I was to drive all the children to their various therapies AND get them back in time to make it to their online classes.  One therapy for Joseph was 45 minutes away, one way, for a 45 minute therapy.  I complained to the school and was told they would only reimburse me for part of my travel expenses.  Nope, that is wrong!  Via IDEA, there is regulations on how much I would be reimbursed (think IRS mileage expense). Anyways, it was either fight the system to get therapists to come to my home OR pull the children from the school.  So I pulled the children.

In Arizona we have the Empowerment Scholarship.  This gives me the money the state would pay a school to educate the children and I get to decided (within limits) how to spend the money.  This will allow me to pick how the children will be taught, get them tutors, aides, and other help.  I am quite excited about the prospect and so are the children!