Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Special Education and IEPs

Do you have a student in Special Education? Or know of one?

There is a wealth of information available to you in the publications available from

One excellent book is From Emotions to Advocacy. In this book you can learn basic and advanced tools to help you understand IEPs and how to deal with teachers and administrators in special education.

If you would like to borrow my copy of this book (I'm stingier than the library. Two-week loans. Pay for it if not returned on time), contact me.

I gave away my copy before moving to Columbia in 2014. I purchased the book again when the family of a student at Spring Valley HS asked for help. Their son was about to be expelled for the fourth time.

My showing up with the parents saved his bacon.

And soon after, Spring Valley made a fifth attempt to expel him. I attended the hearing with his parents again.

Not only did the effort to expel him fail, but a top administrator told the IEP Team at the end of the meeting, "You can't do what you are doing."

The first good rule for parents is Never Go to an IEP Alone.

Always take someone with you. Take an advocate or a family member or a neighbor or a friend - somebody to observe (and keep the team honest).

Got questions about Special Ed and IEPs. Ask them in the Comments section below.

Want them kicked off?

During the public participation segment of last night's board meeting, I repeated a question that I had been asked by a Richland County Sheriff's Department investigator on March 20, 2019. I had gone to the sheriff's department to read a report filed against me for harassment. The report was filed the previous day by Teresa Holmes.

After I read the report, I pointed out to the sergeant-investigator and his boss the many false statements in the report. (The boss quickly determined that I had done nothing wrong.)

At one point the investigator asked me, in a rather forceful tone, if I wanted Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes "kicked off the board" (his words)..

It felt to me like the investigator was baiting me and expecting a reaction, but he didn't get it.

I paused and calmly told him that I did not; i.e., I did not want them "kicked off the board". I told him that what I wanted was for them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board.

Keep in mind - this was five months ago. And they still have not taken the oath of office legally.

When I repeated his question at last night's board meeting, it appeared to shock Teresa Holmes. And Mr. Manning, Board Chair, cautioned me not to mention any Board member names in my remarks. I think my response to the investigator's question was lost. I had said "I still do", and I repeated "I still do", meaning that I still do want them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board.

Last night - a first

Somewhere before the end of the first thirty minutes of last night's school board meeting, Amelia McKie must have excused herself, because I noticed the gap to Lindsay Agostini's left. And, from where I was sitting, it looked like her chair was gone, too, although her nameplate remained on the desk. I didn't notice exactly when she left, but it was shortly after the meeting reached Item 12 on the Agenda. [EDIT. When the YouTube video for this meeting became available, McKie's chair could be seen; it was pushed back and turned sideways behind Holmes' chair, so that it wasn't visible to the right side of the room. She left the meeting at 28:55 on the timer and had apparently pre-arranged her departure. 7/25/19 10:30AM]

It seems to me that there should have been some comment made by the Board Chair to excuse her from the meeting. The meeting began with seven present, plus the superintendent. When McKie left, there were still six. The Minutes of the meeting should reflect her departure and the time.

The question from the public should be, "Where was Amelia McKie?"

To do business, a quorum is required, and a quorum for the Richland 2 School Board is five.

Considering that McKie and Holmes are not official, legal members of the Board, not ever having legally* taken the oath of office, a quorum of five means that Agostini, Manning, Shadd, Caution-Parker and Elkins-Johnson must be there. If all five are not present, business must stop. If McKie or Holmes is not present, it doesn't matter.

So later, when Dr. Elkins-Johnson left the room briefly, a quorum was not present, and the business part of the meeting should have stopped. Without a Parliamentarian to remind them of the rules, how would they know that? The superintendent should know the rules and should prompt the Board Chair, if needed.

* McKie and Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, but they did so illegally. Each became eligible to take the oath on December 4, 2018 but has never taken it legally. Thus, they are not legal Board members and will not be, until they do take the oath of office.