Update on Choir

It has been a two week battle. I’m amazed that it took only one day to remove Sienna from choir, but over two weeks to put her back in choir. Sienna missed their Fall Choral performance. She said it made her feel very sad and that she “had worked very hard to remember those songs.”. She said it made her feel like “they [the school] were leaving me and [the other student] out.”

Talk about heart breaking.

It was clear they really didn’t want her choir.

I didn’t receive the phone call from the Assistant Principal as promised. We left a message expressing the necessity of an immediate phone call. She returned our call after that. I wasn’t pleased with the conversation, though.

She and the Special Ed Director called me on speaker phone. I started off by immediately saying I wanted Sienna back in choir. She said “We can discuss that possibility.” I said “No, I want her back in choir.” She said the same response.

She said the choir teacher’s concern with Sienna returning to choir was the “one-on-one attention Sienna required.” I asked what that meant. She said that during instruction Sienna would come up and want to talk about her cat and…(Sienna doesn’t have a cat.) I said if behavior was the case, why wasn’t I notified. It could have been brought to my attention via email, phone call, progress report, report card…(Sienna had a 97 in choir last six weeks.).

She said that it was just brought to her attention that morning. I said, “That’s fine, but why wasn’t I notified until now?” She didn’t have an answer for me. That was starting to become a norm.

I asked if that was why she was removed. They said ‘no’ that she was removed so she and the other student would have an opportunity to experience the other electives. She tried to tell me that when her son was in school she would have loved for that to be an option. She even told me that she would be learning life skills while helping in the library. She was really to sell me on the idea. Hmmm. Why would she try to sell me on it? If there was nothing sneaky or deceptive going on, why not just put Sienna back in choir?

I asked again if this rotation was something available to very student. She reluctantly said ‘no’. Seemed to me like they were singling out the Special Ed kids. She said she would look me in the eye and assure me that wasn’t the case. I seriously doubted that. She knew they were in hot water.

“Who initiated the change?” I asked. After a pause, she said “We decided collectively.” I said “decided collectively…without me.” (She said it was a collective decision, yet no one seemed to be able to talk to me about it and the counselor/scheduler had no idea what I was talking about.) Again…seems pretty fishy.

I told them I wasn’t happy with their answers and that something seemed off to me. She asked if I wanted a conference with the three of them. I said yes.

I knew (and I’m sure they knew) they were in violation of federal law by changing her schedule without my knowledge.

The next conversation with them was filled with more spinning and more lies. This time, she said the other students’ parents were notified, but we just slipped through the cracks.

That was a lie and we let her know we knew she was lying. She must have forgotten that she had already told me it was only Sienna and one other student. She also didn’t know that we had already spoken to the other child’s mother and knew she hadn’t been informed.

Lies. Lies. Lies.

She also lied about it being a collective decision. We asked the Assistant Principal to provide us with all meeting minutes, notes and documentation leading up to the schedule change. Funny–there were no papers. She told us Sienna would be immediately put back in choir.

Not surprisingly, Sienna came home from school and informed me that she was in PE that day (as her elective–despite already taking Dance as her PE credit). It was clear that they were just shuffling her around and didn’t have a real plan.

I’m convinced they were up to no good by switching Sienna out of choir. Unfortunately it took us threatening legal action in order to get Sienna put back in choir.

She finally was put back in choir. I asked Sienna how her first day back in choir was. She said they kids said, “Sienna! We missed you!”. I asked her what the teacher said. Her response: “Oh. Hi.”

We’ve had multiple issues with this school district. However, after dealing with this, it makes me wonder what else are they doing. What has gone unnoticed? Has anything been done to students who don’t have a voice?

My husband and I are pensive right now. We feel as though we have a moral obligation to figure out if anything else has happened and to stick up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Needless to say, we are very disappointed in the school district. By the way, the other student hasn’t been put back in choir.

I have a feeling this isn’t over.


Here We Go Again…

Sienna has been enjoying choir this semester and has been looking forward to their performances and field trips. She has even happily attended the before-school rehearsals. It seems as though the other students in class enjoy her being in there, also.

When I received an e-mail from the teacher reminding parents that their students were sent home with their recital outfits, I was excited. I knew we were going to have to get it altered quite a bit, but had a feeling she was going to look super cute in the dress.

Upon her arrival from school that day, I asked her if she got her dress. She said she didn’t. I assumed maybe they had to order something different or there was something special I needed to do. I didn’t think too much of it. I figured I would just contact the teacher and get the outfit. No big deal, right?

The next morning, as she was getting ready for school, I reminded her that she needed to be at school early for rehearsal. She said, “No, I’m not in choir anymore. I’m in Art now.” “You are?” I responded.

She said she didn’t know why she was in Art, but that she and another special ed student were not going to be in choir anymore.

I emailed the choir teacher inquiring about Sienna’s comment. The teacher responded that it was her understanding that Sienna and the other student were going to be rotating among the electives.

Hmmm. That’s news to me.

I asked her who I needed to talk to about the scheduling. I didn’t receive a response.

I called the counselor/scheduler. It was news to her and she had no idea what I was talking about.

She transferred me to one of the Special Ed teachers. I had to leave a message. I was able to speak with her in person after school. She said she didn’t know why and that I would need to talk to the person who heads up the Special Ed department.

I requested a call from her. (I got an email from her this morning simply saying that I would be receiving a call from someone else regarding the change.)

Not long after my request, I received a phone call from the 7th grade Assistant Principal. She said she didn’t know I was not informed and said, “On behalf of the school, I apologize.” She said they are trying to give her a taste of the different electives to “see what she likes.” To which I responded,”I already know she likes choir.”

She tried to explain to me that it would give her an opportunity to see what the other classes were like. I discussed my concerns about singling her out, not allowing an opportunity for bonding with the students in her class, field trips…She said that she would be rotating 2 weeks at a time despite “every other day” like she insinuated I was implying.

This seems like an interesting idea…if it were a regular curriculum option that each student could do. However, I really thought it was weird when she told me one of the “electives” she would be trying out (remember this is supposedly to see what she likes) was learning how to re-shelf books in the library. Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure she’s not going to think that’s fun. Seems like they just want help in the library.

I asked if this was a regular program or if it was just something the Special Ed kids were doing. Silence. I don’t think her silence was a good thing. She carefully chose her words by replying that “the children involved in the core program” were participating. Interesting. What’s this Core Program? Why haven’t I heard of it?

I could be over reacting, but I do find it strange that I wasn’t consulted prior to this and that the teachers still aren’t/can’t talk to me about it. I’ve talked to them about everything else. Why is this different?

Regardless, why would you think it’s a good idea to take a special needs child from a class where they’re thriving and behaving well and bounce them from class to class?

I do know there are a few other factors that have recently happened and that are about to happen, that really raise some red flags for me.

I’ll keep you posted. I’m waiting on my phone call…

Karaoke Night

Last Friday, Sienna had Karaoke Night for her choir. I was curious to see her interact with her new Jr High peers, so I went along.

For a while, she clung to one of the other students who was also in special classes with her. After about an hour, she warmed up a bit and started doing the line dances with the rest of the students. It was very cute. I couldn’t really see her among the other kids, so I just watched for her feet. Hee hee

I gave her the camera and encouraged her to be a social butterfly and visit with her friends and take pictures. She took many pictures, but rushed right over to show me the picture she took with a “super cute” boy who gave her a hug. He even asked her to dance with him later on in the evening. 🙂

Each student had their opportunity to be the center of attention and sing their song of choice. It was obvious that some students already had a nice sized “fan base” because students would gather near the microphone to listen and dance along with the student as they sang. Some had larger gatherings than others, but it seemed as though each student enjoyed their time up front.

The most nerve wracking and exciting time was when Sienna’s name was called to do her song. She was out of breath from having just done a line dance, but she ran right up to the microphone and began to sing her song without hesitation.

Every single student there circled around her and listened intently to her singing. They didn’t even chatter to themselves. Some even had their phones out recording her. (Not so sure how I felt about that, but it seemed to come from awe rather than negative amusement.)

She got a huge round of applause and was quite proud of herself. Was she always on tune? Did she sing the song perfectly? No, but she was enthusiastic, very confident and had tons of fun. It was awesome. 🙂