The day after I had the phone book open looking for educational advocates and ended up looking at attorneys, a social worker gave me the name of an advocate. His business is non profit, so he doesn't have hourly rates, but he does want us to pay expenses, so it isn't going to cost us $150 an hour to have him with us at meetings like her Dr. did! Yippee! That's a relief already. Just talking with him over the phone I got the feeling that he knew what was going on in our family and how the school was avoiding their responsibility to Calliope. Then he made came to one of the school meetings.
We've had these meetings at least monthly since school started, and it's usually the school stringing me along with one thing or another, pushing me to look at her assignments online, reminding me that there are kids with worse behaviors and worse grades, and saying that her problems are at home and not at school. They have put off and stalled and backpedaled on the special education testing-evaluatiion-assesment of her needs, even after I put the request in writing last school year. Sometimes Calliope's Dr. comes with us (and charges per hour) to back us up and add her advice on dealing with Calliope.
This meeting was so different. Our advocate was just super nice, laid back, but I understand his name is known to the school, and I believe it now. The school totally offered up that Calliope was yelling at teachers in class, hostile to adults, is a problem in the classroom and between classes, she even hit a girl the day before the meeting and yelled at the teacher when she asked 'What happened?' The school counselor even suggested that having high test scores and not performing to potential was reason enough to get the testing I've been asking for (since 4th grade!) and been denied. Total turn around from what they had been doing and saying before. Phew!
Our advocate said 'She clearly qualifies' a few times about school services, County Mental Health, and Regional Center services. He told me not to worry about it, and he wants to be at any meeting where Calliope is the topic. I felt such relief knowing we had help. He knows the laws, the terms and jargon, and can talk to these people in their language. They don't have the polite mom to push aside anymore. It's great.
Since I've submitted the forms and questionnaire for the testing, they have 60 calendar days to complete the testing and have an IEP meeting for Calliope. We are going to have news by February 26 about changes for Calliope at school! Of course the changes will be nothing to brag about. My smart girl will be in special ed classes. But it will be better for the teachers and students that don't have to deal with her disrupting their classes and taking her abuse.
Things with county mental health are looking a bit slower. Calliope hasn't seen her regular Dr. since before Christmas, and the Dr. won't see her now that she's been taken up by CMH. So, the first appointment with her new therapist (I don't know if she's a Dr. or not) is Friday morning. Calliope is very upset about missing class, but that is the only appointment we can get next week. She's not been taking her medicine, so I don't know how the next week is going to be; they may see more than they want to see. But, there is a possibility for more intense therapy, in home therapy, and it is all going to be paid for through Medi-Cal because Calliope is lucky enough to have an absent parent and a parent with no income. So, a financial burden has been lifted from us, and all the driving to SLO to see her Dr.s is a thing of the past.
So, there was good news this week. Nice.