Dear School: STOP calling me to come pick up my kid!
We all know the feeling. Your phone rings. You look. It’s the school phone number.
A zillion thoughts run through your head as you answer.
Sometimes we’re actually wishing that it was vomiting. Vomiting I understand. Vomiting, I can take him to the pediatrician.
“Hi, Mrs. Smith? This is ‘school personnel’ and we need you to come pick up Jacob. Yes, he had quite a tantrum today and he’s really inconsolable. Yes, it’s been going on for at least 45 minutes.”
I honestly would rather that my kid have an upset stomach and throw up, than have an upset heart and be inconsolable and alone for an hour.
But, it’s common, it’s really, really, really (type in a few more) common.
First, let’s talk about suspensions and kids with IEPs.
And you say, “Oh no, they said he wasn’t suspended, I just needed to come pick him up.”
In the eyes of the law, if your child was asked to leave school, that is a suspension. The school personnel just either truly doesn’t know this, or they are avoiding regs and paperwork (as far as reporting how many times they suspend kids with IEPs!) by just sending him home. If you didn’t go through the formal suspension process, it doesn’t matter. Your child was asked to leave school and his/her peers were not. That’s a suspension.
Here is the code. It includes the phrase “For purposes of removals of a child with a disability from the child’s current educational placement.” That’s what they are doing, removing him from his current placement.
Why send him home instead of helping?
I don’t want to get into the “well why do they do this?“ because we could talk all day. I think the main reason is this: Our public schools have been financially starved into failure. Plain and simple, they simply do not have the resources to staff appropriately and so this is a knee-jerk reaction. They don’t have the resources, the knowledge or the patience to deal with the situation, so they remove the situation. Problem solved!
Except that it’s a very short-term solution. Being out of school when a child is already struggling will only lead to more problems. If you do not identify and fix behavior problems, they will only get worse. And, at the basic level, the child was unhappy at school and was just rewarded for acting out about it. Don’t like school—>act out—>go home! Yay!
If you haven’t heard of Ross Greene and you are having this problem, you need to become a follower of his. He sums it up well, below:
Why are they asking you to pick up your child from school?
Why are they calling you? 99.9% of the time, I bet that it’s undesirable or inappropriate behavior. Right?
Well, then address the behavior! And not by sending the child home. That punishes no one except the parents!
Is your child diagnosed with a disability? Even if the school system is not deemed to have “knowledge” of a disability, parents can request an evaluation when their child is being suspended or expelled, which must be expedited. (§ 1415(k)(5)(D) In that case, however, the child must remain in whatever placement is determined by the school pending the outcome of the evaluation.
All behavior tells you something.
What is this behavior telling you? Without even knowing your kid, I can guess 3 things:
- Child does not have an IEP and needs one
- Has insufficient IEP
- Has appropriate IEP but is not being followed
Then it’s up to parents and the team to go back and revisit the IEP and adjust accordingly.
Other IEP items to consider:
If the child has a 1:1 aide, where was this person? There is no “well, they were at lunch.” If the child is to have a 1:1 all day, that means all day.
So what should I do when they call me to come get my child?
First, know your child. Do they have acting out behaviors? Crippling anxiety? Do you really think that you need to come get them? Go with your gut.
Is this a pattern? Is this the first time you’ve been called or the 50th? Document each and every situation.
Sign them out. Yes, go into the office just as if you were signing the child out for a doctor appointment. Sign them out. State the reason: ‘School called me to come pick up.’
Things you should ask for:
- IEP meeting
- Manifestation Hearing
- FBA and behavior plan
- Student’s missed work as a result of being out of school, which they MUST provide.
Things mom and dad should do:
- Educate yourself on IEPs and discipline. The rules are different and you need to know what to do.
- Be solution oriented, beyond picking up the child from school.
- Think long term. Behavior modification takes time. Be patient.
If you have time…you need to go down the rabbit hole. What I mean by that–read each of those bolded hyperlinks that I have provided you in this post. It’s a very complex issue. There’s not one IEP issue that can be solved in one blog post. All the IEP issues relate to each other and you have to educate yourself.
As I always say, “The knowledge base I wish I didn’t have to have!”
Exceptions: Sometimes there are exceptions to the discipline policy. These situations may include drugs, weapons, guns, extreme violence and/or bodily injury to another person or staff. In those cases, do not delay–do not try to handle this on your own, you need an attorney.
This may help: