This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Public School

Bear has been talking about goint to Out Classes at the high school in the next 6 weeks. Yesterday in therapy I told him in no uncertain terms that I do not think he is ready. That the reason he is doing so well right now is because he is in the perfect environment for him. He is safe and well supervised. Bear apparently complained to his school director because I got a call today, and the director tried to talk me into changing my mind.

Here's what's been going on. Please tell me if you think I'm overreacting and not allowing Bear to prove he can do this.

Summer School

This last Summer, Bear was required to take a mandatory Summer school class in math, because he failed the math TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) ...again. The school was legally required to provide him with a class that "teaches to the test." (Don't get me started on how stupid I think that is!). In his IEP meeting at the end of school we insisted that after he took the mandatory math class that he be allowed to take a second Summer session of basic skills math class to see if we could figure out and address the concepts he's obviously missing. The team agreed, but we had to pay for it. We were also assured that "even if he fails the test a third time, it's OK, he'll still be promoted to the 9th grade."

Apparently several children in Bear's special school failed the test also so the school was "very aware" of their special needs. This was also a "good opportunity" to see how he would do in the Fall when he started his Out Classes of Athletics and World Geography in the regular classrooms in high school. (Did I mention everything is huge in Texas, including our schools?! There are thousands of kids in this high school, 270+ were enrolled in Football athletics). Since the summer school classes at the high school would have fewer kids, he would be "easing" into this.

About 2 weeks into summer school, we get a call from the school. 5 minutes after we'd left that day (we were dropping off his new prescription of Provigil for his ADD for him to take at noon), the school said we had to come get him. We arrive and there are 3 police officers in with the principal of the high school and Bear. We have to wait outside the room for quite awhile.

Finally we are invited in. On the table is a handgun!!

The principal was pretty sure he'd worked through all Bear's lies and finally come up with the truth. Bear had brought the gun to school in a holster that he'd made out of a wrist splint (it was pretty well made - I assumed it was a real holster!). On the bus he'd been showing off the gun (one of the kids on the bus reported him).

Bear claimed he had brought the gun because one of his friends at school had been letting everyone know that he wanted a gun for protection. This friend was a drug dealer (according to Bear). Bear had borrowed this gun from a friend of the family to give to the drug dealer in the hopes that the drug dealer would give him drugs.

The only "good" news was that this was not a "real" gun. It is a pellet gun (with the orange tip broken off by Bear). It looks and feels exactly like a real gun. The police told Bear that if he, or any other child, had pointed this "gun" at a police officer the child would be shot dead by the police officer. We asked Bear what could have happened if he gave the gun to the friend. Bear could only tell us, "I would get in trouble." He had NO CONCEPT of the consequences of his actions.

Because it was not a "real" gun the police left. The school decided that because it was not a real gun, and because of Bear's diagnoses as emotionally disturbed that he would not have any consequences other than being kicked out of Summer school. He was given a workbook to study for the Math TAKS he was still required to take (Big shock, he never even opened the workbook).

We discovered that Bear had gotten the gun when he spent the night with the emotionally disturbed 19 year old son of our nanny. She had assumed that her 19 year old was better able to make good choices than he was, and really I don't blame the boy (or the nanny). The boy had shown Bear his broken pellet gun. Bear claimed he could fix it for him. To the boy, it was a broken toy and he thought nothing of it. Apparently the toy originally had a red plastic tube that came out of the muzzle that helped to identify it as a toy. Bear broke this plastic piece off. Obviously Bear never intended to return the gun.

At the next IEP meeting just before school started, everyone agreed that Bear was not ready to take Out Classes at the high school. He had also failed the math TAKS for the 3rd time. We could not get them to admit that Bear had any learning delays, but we did force them to give him 2 math classes - one remedial and one on grade level.

Now 4 weeks later, Bear is doing well in his small, structured, program specifically designed for emotionally disturbed youth in this school district. He is mentoring another child. He has almost reached Merit level. Just like last school year. Everyone has begun again with questioning why he was even in the program (and of course letting him know their beliefs), because he is doing SOOOO well. Last year we allowed them to convince us that this was a sign that he was ready to move on and rejoin public school. Now I am convinced that he is doing so well because he is in the right place!

The director assured me that the high school had sent out their "drug counselor" last week to talk to Bear (glad they asked me for my permission - NOT!). They talked about how he was going to be exposed to drugs during Out Classes and how he needs to handle it. The director assures me that they're not going to dump him in a big class like PE after all and the ACHIEVE program at the high school will be there for support (just like the ACHIEVE program supported him in Middle School when he was kicked out and almost got arrested for "terroristic threats"?!).

The director asked me again if I was adamantly opposed to Out Classes. I said YES. He then asked if Hubby was adamantly opposed too? I said we'd talked about it a little and while Hubby may not be "adamantly" opposed, he did agree with me that Bear is not ready to go to public school. Hubby actually wants to send him to HCA (the private school the girls attend). I don't think Bear is ready for that either (or to be more accurate, the school isn't ready or capable), but if my only choices were to send him to public high school or to put him in private school, I would definitely choose private school. Of course we can't afford private school for Bear right now so the point is moot. (Also the school is so small he would be in the same classroom as his sisters and I don't think that will work well!).

So what do you think? Am I making a mistake? Would you let him try public school again? He's asked me several times to do things that require me to trust him, and I can't think of what he could do to get me to trust him enough to do them. EVERY time we trust him he screws it up - dramatically! I really don't think he is capable of doing typical teenage boy things. I think he is still about 2 years old.

Even his therapist apparently doesn't agree with me. He backs me up when I tell him about things like switching Bear to a clear backpack because things are going missing. At the same time, he has switched Bear to every other week in counseling, because he is "doing so well."

Am I the only one who thinks Bear is doing well BECAUSE we are so strict, BECAUSE he's under constant supervision, BECAUSE we don't allow him the freedoms that he wants?! I realize that in 4 years he will graduate high school and be "an adult." Does that mean that I have to keep trying to prepare him for life by letting him fall? Or does that mean I should keep him as safe as possible for as long as I can? *sigh*

Dazed and Confused,



Anonymous said...

Today is not amnesty day... don't give him a chance now. You are right, they are wrong. Four years from now is four years from now. Possibly... I would like to think "probably"... he will make giant leaps between now and then, however, not today. Reassess after Winter Break, (then say no again.) Reassess after Spring Break, and say no again. Reassess next Fall... that might be the time to say yes. He has not had one successful school year since he's been in your home. Let this be the year.

marythemom said...

Thank you Denise!