Oh, this CAN'T be good

Text of a letter sent from me to a school administrator just 5 minutes ago:

Dear Ms. S=====,

Yesterday, I received notification that Eric had been accepted into the Jump Start Kindergarten program, complete with the full complement of forms and notices. That letter was postmarked June 15. Today, I received a letter, also dated June 15, stating that Eric was NOT selected to attend the program. Would you please explain to me what is going on? I have had verbal discussions both with the evaluating teacher and with you regarding his admission into the program, AND I have gone out of my way to get the necessary paperwork put together for his 504 Plan. Why is Eric suddenly not accepted into this program, when everyone I’ve talked to until today has said otherwise?

I would like an immediate explanation — and in fact, given that I see no reasonable explanation other than Eric’s diabetes for a sudden reversal like this, I insist that the school give me an explanation, in writing, prior to the start date of the program. If I do not get one, I am going to have to assume that the school is acting in a discriminatory fashion, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and respond accordingly. That’s not something I want to do, but I cannot allow Eric’s education to be compromised.

I really, truly hope you’ll tell me the second letter stating he was not accepted was sent by mistake. That being the case, we can meet regarding his 504 Plan and/or IEP any time this week or next.

Sincerely yours,

This letter was CC'd to my lawyer, whom I'd previously messaged with the full background of the situation. I really, really, REALLY hope that Eric's kindergarten experience doesn't start off with me suing his school district over their unwillingness to accommodate his diabetes.

Hopefully just an administrative error. Amazing how often that happens.

She called me ten minutes ago. It was a stupid clerical mistake. I'm SO relieved!!!

And, at the same time, I'm secretly glad that I could make it clear, oh so politely, that I am not willing to tolerate ANY crap with regard to Eric's schooling.

lol clerical error after the letter!! glad it worked out for you

She was horrified and flustered enough that I genuinely believe her explanation... although there's still a suspicious, protective part of me that is nonetheless wondering if the subject might not have come up once or twice about how difficult/expensive/inconvenient it would be to get all ducks in a row for this one child. It would not surprise me in the least to find that the teachers were for his participation, but the administrators weren't. She mentioned "hiring a nurse" at least twice during the conversation, and I would bet there was something sticky going on with that... but for now, I'm going to accept her explanation in the knowledge that the school is now aware that I'm fully prepared to lawyer up if they give me any grief.

I gotta be honest, I think you went a little overboard. Getting all worked up and threatening them over a clerical error? Dial back the aggression and you’ll find people are genuinely much nicer to deal with. I would have simply called and asked if the second letter was mistake. If it was, chuckle politely and all done! Save the threats and lawyer cc stuff for when it’s actually needed. If the school has any hesitation or doubts now, it’s not about your son…

With all due respect, you do not know the back story, nor do you know my school district the way I do—Eric is my youngest child, and I've put my stepdaughter and older son through the system ahead of him, so I know how the district works (or doesn't, as the case may be). It is not at all a well-run school district. The elementary and middle school teachers in this district have the students' best interests at heart and I love them unreservedly... the administrators are a very different story. The high school, in particular, has a reputation for atrocious handling of disabled kids, and while the elementary school is a little better run, the principal has just retired and the school nurse's retirement is imminent, so I am dealing with people who are new to their positions and who may or may not understand their responsibilities. And their communication is atrocious (this BS of sending me two different messages regarding the same program is an unusually graphic example — most of the time, they simply send me information about meetings and key dates one or two days too late!). I started informing them about Eric's special needs in APRIL, and have reminded them two or three times of the need to meet re: his DMMP well in advance of starting the pre-kindergarten program. We are now less than two weeks from the start date and the school hasn't even hired a nurse yet, much less scheduled a meeting/review/training session. And I'm supposed to get this person (and everyone else) up to speed between now and then, when we don't even have a meeting date?

Yeah, I came down on them a little hard, and I feel bad that Patty was the one who had to be on the receiving end of it when it's likely that the source of the problem was some clueless administrator. But knowing this district's bureaucrats as I do, I'm not willing to assume that this was just a simple mistake. I have heard from other parents that you have to be aggressive with regard to this district, if you don't want your kid to fall between the cracks. So I was. And I was very frank with Patty as to what my concerns were and she said she didn't blame me for them. I am reassured that SHE, at least, will make sure Eric gets what Eric needs, but that does not mean the "central office" is going to be as supportive.

And I did not threaten. I simply pointed out that excluding him from a program for which he was eligible was a violation of the law if his diabetes was the reason, and that I wanted an explanation for it. NOWHERE did I say I was going to sue them. Although, if they were guilty as charged, they surely recognized that it was a likely outcome. Good thing they weren't guilty.

Chiming in with $0.02 . . .

Perhaps it was a clerical error, and perhaps it was a cover story concocted as they backpedaled furiously in reply to your assertive response. Impossible to ever know for certain, and the cynic in me suspects the odds are about 60-40 the wrong way.

But either way, your response was 100% correct. If it wasn't a mistake, then you did the right thing by raising so steeply that they had to fold. If it was a mistake, they are now likely to be painstakingly careful with you in the future (and, just maybe, with others as well).

Hurt feelings, if any, are unfortunate. But you are responsible for your child's well being, you made that priority #1, and that is never a mistake.

I would like to believe the odds are 40/60… But I don’t dare assume they are.

Wow! Eric is finally starting school. I hope this will be your one and only problem. Best of luck with the first year of school. Cheers! Joanne

Can you believe it? It has been almost four years since his diagnosis. It seems like such a long time ago, but it passed in the blink of an eye.