We Won, Mr. Stark

Okay, so there’s no Mr. Stark or any of the sadness that went along with that moment in the movie in this post, but a) I like movie quotes and b) we did win. As LM used to say, booyah! That’s the short version of the meeting, and you can read recap below if you want the juicy details.

When we arrived for the girl’s meeting, the guidance counselor told us that the Asshole Psychologist decided to make this morning’s meeting a 2-for-1 meeting — use it as a follow-up and hold the eligibility meeting as well. We were a little concerned about that, since we thought this was going to determine whether she would be evaluated, and then use those evaluations to determine eligibility. How would that be possible without actually evaluating her first? We discussed it and agreed and decided that if things seemed like they were going south, then we would end the meeting (as is our right legally speaking).

Asshole didn’t speak to us when he came in the room. He sat down with his arms folded across his chest and looked fucking pissed. I said good morning to him, but nothing. We figured the guidance counselor must have passed along our complaint about his behavior in the last meeting and told him that we were recording the meeting (which I did). We were there for an hour and a half, and he didn’t look at my husband or me a single time, despite sitting directly across from us and directing his comments to us a few times. Lovely fella!

The meeting went extremely well compared to last time. For the most part, Asshole refused to contribute and sat there like a sulking child. Whenever the guidance counselor or resource teacher would ask if he had anything to add, he would grunt out a “No.” Fine by us, since the few times he did chime in weren’t exactly helpful.

For example, when the resource teacher asked more about BG’s diagnoses, Asshole asked, “Where did you even get this done? I haven’t even seen a report that indicates her having anything.”

The last time, when he asked where we came up with BG’s diagnoses, I offered him the psych eval (which I had dropped off weeks earlier but he said he didn’t see). At that time, he refused to look at it, saying he didn’t want “words on paper.” And at the end of that meeting, he refused to keep a copy of the report, saying he didn’t need it. So, dude, you’re seriously gonna act like this is out of left field and that I haven’t given you anything? It was so absurd it was all I could do not to laugh.

“I offered it to you last time,” I responded, “but you wouldn’t take it. You said you didn’t need it. But I’m more than happy to share another copy if you plan to look at it this time.” I said it in a lighthearted tone and chuckled, and some of the folks at the table laughed as well, but Asshole looked more pissed than he did when he first entered the room. After glancing at the first page of the report, he said, “Well, I’m not even familiar with this psychologist. He isn’t in any book I have.”

Lord.

I glanced at my copy of the report, knowing full well that the psychologist’s name wasn’t even on the front page, as I didn’t print the full 30-something pages, just the pertinent stuff. “That might be because his name isn’t on the page you looked at. We saw [name] out of [neighboring city].” No response. I wanted to ask about the books of psychologists he apparently has, but didn’t. I know of two in our county, and one works at an inpatient facility. Services are extremely limited here.

He also briefly tried shooting down BG’s autism diagnosis, but the resource teacher took him down over that. He said she sounds completely normal, and the resource teacher told him that much of what we were describing wasn’t remotely normal and that she wouldn’t be thriving with some of the accommodations already in place if she didn’t have some difficulties. She also told him that a small percentage of kids she’s worked with on the spectrum present similar to BG and that their areas of difficulty are going to vary depending on the kid. Boom.

One issue that came up was when my husband got confused on some legal terminology. The wording of the 504 law says that a student’s disability has to substantially limit a life activity, and my husband said it wasn’t substantially limiting, but moderately limiting. As far as the law is concerned, everything we discussed is substantially limiting, but he didn’t realize that. (The one area I didn’t go over with him, sigh.)

“Ha!” Asshole chuckled. “You have to say it’s ‘substantially limiting’ or it’s a ‘gotcha moment’ and she wouldn’t qualify for anything.”

“I’m pretty sure we don’t do ‘gotcha moments’ at meetings for a student’s disability,” I said and chuckled, trying to play off what he said as a joke. “Her disability is substantially limiting, as both we and her teacher have demonstrated, so let’s move on.”

After going through some more things, the guidance counselor asked if everyone was on board for doing a 504 Plan and that if so, we could all sign off and move towards listing accommodations. The asshole didn’t answer, so the guidance counselor asked him and he shrugged, so the guidance counselor passed around the form to sign, which he took his sweet time to sign, but he did.

We could’ve pushed for an IEP evaluation, but had decided before the meeting that if we don’t get resistance for a 504 and that if BG got all of the accommodations we wanted, that we’d be fine with it. Asshole tried to trip up BG’s teacher about the FM system once, asking how she did whenever she didn’t have it on during instruction (such as when the battery died).

“She usually has it on, but I don’t remember it being an issue,” the teacher said.

“Then she probably doesn’t need it,” Asshole said.

“I have 20 students, and I wasn’t observing her specifically to see if she did or didn’t do well in that one period,” her teacher responded. “I know she has made a lot of improvements overall since we started using it, though, so she definitely needs it.”

I commented that BG went from bringing home work that was barely half completed to always being completed since using the system and that we would insist on her having it. He shrugged and didn’t bring it up again. (It’s amazing, since at the last meeting, he said BG couldn’t have the FM system with a 504 Plan period, which I now know was bullshit thanks to the research I did.)

After we signed off on everything, the Asshole walked out without saying goodbye. One of the ladies called out and told him to have a nice day, but he said nothing in return.

(Yeah, I know that’s immature, but I don’t give a shit.)

There were a lot of shit-eating grins at that table from the teacher/others that were visibly pissed with him last time. One of them commented, “Well, that went much better than last time, huh?” Hell yeah.

While the Asshole obviously had a few dickish moments, it’s shocking that he went from completely dominating the last meeting, interrupting everyone, etc. to having no more to say than what I’ve written here in a 90-minute meeting. I found out that he has quite the reputation for being the “My word is law” guy and for refusing to work with parents, so I can’t believe that was the extent of the bullshit/opposition we dealt with and that he basically bypassed a formal evaluation and just gave her the 504 Plan. I don’t know if it was due, in part, to our complaint and recording him (and I also had documents with big letterhead from the Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights laid out between us), or if he decided we weren’t worth the hassle, but whatever. We’re so happy that she’ll have these supports officially in place. Additionally, the resource teacher came up with extra accommodations we hadn’t even discussed to help BG. Yay!

7 thoughts on “We Won, Mr. Stark”

  1. Cheese and rice! Can you believe this man holds his position? Can you imagine what he does to single parents of lower education or lesser means or ? What if you didn’t advocate for BG?! Y’all have school boards, yeah? I’d be all over that chit. What an absolute dick he is. Holy … He should NOT work with children, I’m not even sure he should work with PEOPLE of any age.
    I’m so glad you are BG’s mom. Good job, E!

    Liked by 1 person

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