The good news is that Miss Kat is doing wonderfully. She is reading within the normal range. Her academics are nearly caught up. We will get her language testing back next Wednesday and we expect her to be within the normal range for that as well. In the last four years she has made amazing progress.
Now, the bad news. Miss Kat's cohort is disappearing. She is in a class of six this year, and the two girls with her are aging out. The mother of one of the boys informed me last week that she is looking at mainstreaming her son next year as well. I have also heard rumors that the school district contract on one more is expiring, he will be leaving too. That leaves Miss Kat with only one other child her age. She would be the only girl in the entire school above 1st grade. She would be the oldest and the most advanced student. This may very well be her last year at this wonderful school.
So, even more bad news. We are trying to figure out where we are going to go and what services Miss Kat will need at a new school. We have been talking very seriously about returning to our family in Utah. So, I called the director of programs at USDB to discuss Miss Kat and what she would need for what would be her first year in the mainstream and final year before the big changes that come with middle school. Miss Kat is doing 5th grade this year, so we would be discussing 6th.
When we left Utah, the oral program ended after 6th grade (because that is when elementary school ended and the programs were housed in typical hearing schools). That is still what USDB claims on their website as well. So, I was prepared to ask questions about how many students they have at Millcreek vs. how many in Ogden. I wanted to know the amount of time spent in the mainstream vs. working with the Teacher of the Deaf. I wanted to know how much speech and auditory therapy was standard and what sorts of testing they would do and need. Instead I was told that she would get none of these things.
The director told me that USDB's oral program now mainstreams all students by 3rd grade. She said that they have no need to continue the program further than that because the students are all doing well enough to be served by their local schools. She said that if Miss Kat needed services, she would get an itinerant (for what, an hour a week?) and be in a regular ed classroom full time. When I pressed the issue and said that I didn't believe she was in a position to be successful in a mainstream class, she said that they would have to dump her in a resource room! Really? In this day and age, you think the best placement for a child with cochlear implants and no additional disabilities is a multi-categorical resource room? She is going to gain the language and academic skills she needs to be successful for the rest of her life in a RESOURCE ROOM?!
So, of course, I called her bluff. I said that my child does not have need of a special education teacher. She is deaf, she needs a Teacher of the Deaf. She said that the Teacher of the Deaf would work with the Special Ed. teacher (remember the hour a week from before!) to...I don't know what exactly...to have her magically become a Teacher of the Deaf, maybe?
And here we are. Back where we started so many years ago. Fighting with USDB because they refuse to provide appropriate services for Miss Kat. I guess not much has changed while we were gone. I guess I had imagined that they would have gotten better. That they would realize that ALL deaf kids are entitled to appropriate services, not just those who fit in their magic boxes. Man was I wrong!