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View Full Version : I got "THE LETTER"


Napria
02-08-2007, 06:35 PM
We took our son and daughter out of school for a week to go to WDW. I spoke to my daughter's principal and the administrator of my son's special needs school; both public schools. I explained to them both that my son's combination of conditions (Asperger's, epilepsy) make it impossible for us to take him to WDW during the Summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring breaks, which are the only times during the school year with more than a day off. Either the crowds would make him freak out and flee (we've lost him in crowds before, for as long as 40 minutes) or the heat would contribute to his seizures. They both agreed that we should go and enjoy ourselves, but not take more than 5 days off.

I made sure that I wouldn't be taking either one out during testing or any other critical times.

Yesterday I got "the letter" from my daughter's assistant Principal stating that we are in violation of the law, guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted will face: 30 days in prison, fine of up to $100, community service or a combination of the above.

Now I don't want suggestions. I already know what I'm going to do. I just want to vent.

Much is made in this fair country of ours about "family values" Yet my kids go to school all day, come home and do their homework, get about one hour to play then must come in to take a shower, help get ready for dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner, then it's bedtime. I know all parents aren't like this, but my kids have from 7:30 to 8:00 PM to get ready and get in bed.

Where is their family time? If you look at pictures of my son from any other time, he's either making a ridiculous face and pose, or frowning. Look at the pics from our recent trip and he's smiling a genuine smile. And having that time with both of them, away from the demands of our lives was priceless. It let us all really enjoy being with each other.

I really do understand that education is important. What I don't agree with is threatening imprisionment to parents of special needs kids for spending a carefully thought out five days away from school when there was really no other alternative.

Thanks for letting me vent.

And if I could figure out how to insert a picture of his happy face, I would.

daisyduck123
02-08-2007, 07:08 PM
Sorry that had to happen to you.

If you ever go again (which I would anyway), I'd be sure to get a doctor's note. (It helps for me that I have a dentist friend that will write me a note).

I'm glad that you guys had such a great time. :goodvibes

(And thank goodness we don't have a policy like that here in my part of Maryland....my kids missed 11 school days for 2 WDW trips last year).
They'll miss 6 this May.

Foohound
02-08-2007, 07:24 PM
Napria,

I live in Georgia as well. My daughter is 5 years old and has autism. We are planning a trip the second week in December for the specific reasons you stated. When I approached my DD's teacher about talking to principle she said and I quote. "Go ahead he will give you the same answer he gives everyone, It's against the policy"

She recommended I go directly to the school board. I have already booked my trip, so now I am very worried about going?

Michigan
02-08-2007, 08:15 PM
Can you say CNN, Fox News, MSNBC

They don't own your kids you pay their wages with your taxes to educate your kids.

chrismom2005
02-08-2007, 08:29 PM
how is ok for people to homeschool but illegal to take their kids out of school for a week. we give birth to them and then they hit five go to school and belong to the school district.

tophee99
02-08-2007, 08:39 PM
This is a new policy in our school district too. When I was little, my parents took us out of school for a week each year (either prior to or just after the spring break week) and we would spend 2 weeks in Florida with my Grandfather. We took school work, and generally our teacher would assign a special "project"..........gather info about what we did, where we went, etc. Now, it may not have been math that I was learning, but I sure did learn alot about the places we went, some different cultures and pasttimes.......and in my opinion, this should count........not everything can be taught in a classroom. My db has Cerebral Palsy and they were always afraid he would "fall behind"........he never did...........and he had wonderful, different, fun yet "educational" experiences to boot!!

Have a wonderful trip!!!! You and your family deserve it!!! :wizard:

Janet Hill
02-08-2007, 09:19 PM
We homeschool for a week in the fall and a week in late spring. Other than that they attend school regularly.

No one has said anything yet, but I'm kind of expecting it.

WildGrits
02-09-2007, 12:47 AM
I'm really sorry to hear that you were treated like that.

All but two trips I have taken have been between September and the end of November.

I have never had a problem nor did my parents have a problem taking time off from school. We always send a note to school a month ahead of time so that if there is any work to be done, we can do it before we leave.

Unfortunately if you are in one of those counties whose schools are failing in the Leave no Child Behind reform, then schools have to cover their butts and send these notes out during truancies.

Charleyann
02-09-2007, 05:11 AM
Oh my gosh, I live in New Brunswick Canada. I have a special needs child and just took him from Oct 30th - Nov 16th, 2006. The School nor the District said anything other then have a great trip! They even made my son a treat bag for the plane also filled with stickers, coloring book, journal book, markers , cards and games. Even gave him a card signed by his teachers wishing him a wonderful trip!

This Christmas we are leaving Dec 18th. Kids aren't finsihed until Dec 22nd. Everyone knows and says nothing!

All I can say is wow! I wish you well and hope you don't give up your battle! You are the parents and ultimately you should have some say!

Charleyann:wizard:

KPeveler
02-09-2007, 08:19 AM
I understand the importance of schooling, but honestly, what does a 5 year old do in school that cant be missed for just a few days. I understand pulling someone out of upper level calculus in high school might be more difficult. but for goodness sakes, so your 6 yr old will miss the alphabet song and a couple Dr Seuss books! schools need to relax, especially if you have a special needs child.

CinderellaBride12
02-09-2007, 12:10 PM
I know you just wanted to vent but OMG they are being real jerks about it! I'm sorry but that is outrageous to send you a letter threatening you with that. I know in High School I missed a week after Thanksgiving to accompany my parents to a series of dr. visits. Stupid school districts are getting way to strict in what they want control of. Good Luck hope things go well for you!

Belle1962
02-09-2007, 12:14 PM
I live North of Atlanta also and HATE the compulsory attendance law!!!! I took my son out of school to go to Disney when he was growing up and now am bound to the school calendar for my DGS!!!! The best I can do is a long weekend with one him having medical appts (for instance we planned a trip with picking him up from school Fri morning. dr appt at 8:30, hit the road, came home Monday and a dental appt Monday afternoon). The school gets their "documentation", DGS gets a mini trip to Disney and then we count the days until summer!!!!!!!! I understand that for 'at risk" students this is important but I don't believe the OP, or my family, could be considered "at risk". And we're ranked what #50 in country----what do they hope to achieve--we move up to #49????:rolleyes1

diseyore
02-09-2007, 05:50 PM
I totally understand and am glad you have a place to vent. When my dd was in school she had a note from the doctor stating she would miss more that the 14 days per year allowed plus other items on her 504, but they said that they did not practice medicine and the doctor should not act like a teacher! (WA state) I was so angry at them,:mad: and still am! It was a constant fight so bad that we finally sent her to a home school center. We never received any grief from them in fact they were always asking what they could do to help.

What is wrong with out schools?????

cjholda
02-09-2007, 05:59 PM
how is ok for people to homeschool but illegal to take their kids out of school for a week. we give birth to them and then they hit five go to school and belong to the school district.

As a mom whose children attended GA public schools, this is one of the many reasons we pulled them out of the school system. The school authorities think that we, as parents, aren't smart enough to raise or educate our own children. The state of GA has mandates for homeschoolers too, but they can't dictate which days we school and which days we don't. We only had to abide by 180 days per year and fill out attendance records. Gotta love the gov't.! I'm in IL now and we vacation whenever we please, but we also school all year. So far I haven't heard a peep from anyone. I'm sorry this happened to you and I hope you are able to enjoy your trip. If it were me, I'd be "homeschooling" at Disney.:rotfl2:

Charleyann
02-09-2007, 06:11 PM
I totally understand and am glad you have a place to vent. When my dd was in school she had a note from the doctor stating she would miss more that the 14 days per year allowed plus other items on her 504, but they said that they did not practice medicine and the doctor should not act like a teacher! (WA state) I was so angry at them,:mad: and still am! It was a constant fight so bad that we finally sent her to a home school center. We never received any grief from them in fact they were always asking what they could do to help.

What is wrong with out schools?????

TOO MANY CHIEFS AND NOT ENOUGH INDIANS!!!!!!

Charleyann

Ali
02-09-2007, 06:34 PM
In Florida a 5 year old is not subject to the attendance laws. At age 6 they legally start keeping track of attendance... not a day before. So, all of the 3 to 5 year old kids in my class who miss weeks on end or miss every Friday or just come when they want don't get into trouble but the kids who go on vacation and are 6 years old can get their parents into big trouble!

Just made me think that I need to get a doctor's note for next Monday when we are Disney.

triplefigs
02-09-2007, 11:27 PM
Napria,

I live in Georgia as well. My daughter is 5 years old and has autism. We are planning a trip the second week in December for the specific reasons you stated. When I approached my DD's teacher about talking to principle she said and I quote. "Go ahead he will give you the same answer he gives everyone, It's against the policy"

She recommended I go directly to the school board. I have already booked my trip, so now I am very worried about going?

We're in Forsyth County in North Atlanta. I had my son's doctor from the Marcus Institute write a letter stating why he couldn't go during the breaks. She asked for not only him to be excused but my other 2 (they are triplets) as well. All 5 days were excused with no trouble at all. We are planning a trip in late September again and will ask her to write (or copy) the same letter. She documented his IEP and went line by line stating why non-peak times completely satisfy his needs and issues listed on the IEP. ETA: if they don't excuse it, then I'll get the letter and throw it away. All my neighbors take their kids out all the time, get the letter, and nothing else ever happens.

HTH!

DisneyDreams4P&B
02-10-2007, 07:12 AM
We took our 2 sons (ASD & SID) out of special needs pre-k and 1st grade(Douglas County) for a week in October to go on the cruise. I got letters from every doctor, specialist and therapist that my children see. When I started getting "guff" from my oldest's son's principle on the number of days he would be missing I simply and calmy replied...

"My son's go to school typically year round, for regular school and then extended session while everyone else in on vacation. My son's go to OT, PT & SP every week. They then come home and work on homework and the work we have for them to help them be the best they can be and acheive all of the things we know they can do. I seriously doubt that another "neuro-typical" child at this school works as hard and does as much as my children. So if I can give my son's one week, where there are less crowds that will upset them and as pleasant and as non invasive of an environment as possible, I will. Unless you feel that my son's don't work hard enough and don't deserve it?

She told me to enjoy our vacation and have a good time.

Never heard another word about it.

Sometimes these Administration people are more worried about "numbers and stats than the situation. Don't be worried, they would be hard pressed to take parents of a special needs child to court over missed days. Can you offer to make the time up? I know in Douglas County, they have a program where the child stays after school for additional instruction by the teacher for 45 minutes and that makes up for one day (seems silly doesn't it).

Good Luck!

Foohound
02-10-2007, 08:17 AM
Triplefig: and DisneyDream:

Thanks for the advise. I am taking my dd back to her specialist this month for her bi annual checkup. I will speak with him about writing a letter for my DD. I agree with you DisneyDeam that our children work much harder to accomplish what they can, and they derserve a less stressful vacation when possible. My dd lives and breaths disney, it is the one thing she really relates to.

Thanks again

LauraAnn630
02-10-2007, 08:57 AM
Thats crap! I cant believe it! Its just not right. They need to mind there own business.

triplefigs
02-10-2007, 10:23 AM
Triplefig: and DisneyDream:

Thanks for the advise. I am taking my dd back to her specialist this month for her bi annual checkup. I will speak with him about writing a letter for my DD. I agree with you DisneyDeam that our children work much harder to accomplish what they can, and they derserve a less stressful vacation when possible. My dd lives and breaths disney, it is the one thing she really relates to.

Thanks again
Amen to that! My son gets OT 2 times, Speech 2 times, PT 1 time per week all at school. Then PT, OT, and Speech privately after school as well as a special needs Karate class. He also lives, breathes Disney. He has the complete monorail set in his room along with a Castle and MMC playhouse. If September is better for him, then that's when we go. If I get a letter, fine. But I'm doing what's best for my child and my family.

mrsmarilyn
02-12-2007, 10:43 PM
I cannot even begin to believe what I am reading. Holy katz. We just took our 5 1/2 year old twins out of 1/2 day K for a week for a trip and all that the teacher and principal said was " have fun!"

Homeschooling starts looking better to me all the time...if I lived where ever you do, I'd do HS in a heartbeat. Good heavens, what nonsense! I am SO sorry this has happened to you.:confused:

lunabkat
02-14-2007, 07:50 PM
Go and have fun. I had a 12 year old daughter whom I took out of school to go to Disney for a week (with her principal's blessing, he asked if we would take him) and in less than six months after the trip, she was killed in a bicycle accident. I WILL NEVER spend a moment of my life regretting I took my child out of school for the best vacation of our lives. It is one of my fondest, dearest, best memories. DO NOT let someone else make your children's decisions for you, you know what is best for them and that is "fun time" with their family. School is important, but it isn't the essence of life, Go, Have Fun, Enjoy and God Bless you.

eeyorelori
02-16-2007, 06:22 PM
oh luna i am so sorry to hear about your dd...soo sad ...:sad2:

I agree they are our kids and if they attend the extended school yr How are you suposed to plan anything..We are going i hope (cross your fingers) next feb ..My oldest will be a senior and i no itll be our last big vacation with the whole family..Plus 3 of mine go to extended school yr with disab.also so i shouldnt have trouble i hope ...:confused3

lunabkat
02-16-2007, 08:30 PM
Thank you lori, I hope you all have a great time. But in case any of your kids are little or noise sensitive PLEASE go see Tough to be a bug BEFORE you take them in or, take my word for it, there will be tears and terror. The scene with the tarantula (Cheech Martin by-the-way) blowing quills out his butt into your face (via the 3d glasses) sent my two little ones screaming out of the theater. Funny now, (I have to admit, i did kinda laugh as I chased them out of the theater) but really scary for them!

LL

doubletrouble_vb
02-16-2007, 10:52 PM
Georgia residents you might just try writing your representative while you are getting your doctor to write notes. Be they republicans or be they democrats for the most part these are the exact same jokers you've been sending to Atlanta for years. They can actually do something about this for you...I haven't been here that long but it seems to me they probably did this TO you in the first place.

kaytieeldr
02-17-2007, 03:03 AM
Several points: First, the OP's daughter is not necessarily five years old. That's the third poster's daughter; we don't (as far as I can tell) know how old the OP's kids are.

Yesterday I got "the letter" from my daughter's assistant Principal stating that we are in violation of the law, guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted will face: 30 days in prison, fine of up to $100, community service or a combination of the above. The AP may be an educator, but unless the laws of this country have changed, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It's the middle of the night, so I don't know if this is going to make sense but... I don't see how you can be guilty but not yet convicted of something. I think the letter is a scare tactic - but then, I'm not a lawyer so don't take my word.

Where is their family time? I realize you're just venting, but in all fairness a vacation trip is not an inalienable right. Many, many families spend time together and have family time without leaving home - either by choice or for financial reasons. It's not about where you go, it's about what you do and the time you take.

catnik
02-17-2007, 09:12 AM
OP:
Depending on how angry you still are, there is an official process in Georgia to appeal school issues. I have included the link here: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_board.aspx?PageReq=PEABoardAppeals

If you did decide to pursue an appeal, I would first make an appointment with the primary principal (since the truancy letter came from the assistant principal) to discuss the matter, especially since he, the primary principal, gave his verbal approval for your trip. If this meeting is not satisfactory, I would both tell the principal and notify him in writing that you were pursing the matter under the Georgia code of appeals. You may not have to go much farther than that, as I can not imagine they would want to defend their position in open session before the school board. If you do present at the school board, have a letter from your MD outlining your son's conditions that make the trip necessary in the off-season due to crowds, etc.

Good luck to you!

catnik
02-17-2007, 09:16 AM
Triplefigs:
Do not want to hijack the thread but would like to know which doc you see at the Marcus Institute. We are looking to change and your MD sounds both knowledgable and accomodating. Thanks!

OKWMom
02-17-2007, 09:45 AM
We got a similar letter last year when we took our kids (then 10, 8, and 7) out of school for a week at Disney. Our middle child is autistic and could not and cannot tolerate the extreme heat of the summers or the crowd conditions during normal school breaks. My husband and I knew we would probably receive some flak from the school district from our decision, but we did what was best for our family. We informed the teachers prior to leaving, told them if they wanted to send the work with the kids, that would be fine, but we didn't want to place any extra burden on them as teachers. Also, we told the teachers we knew all responsibility for catching up was ours. The teachers were very supportive and wished us well.

Upon our return, we received "the letter", threatening us with a Family Court action, fines, imprisionment, DSS, you name it. I was furious. I contacted the principal and requested a meeting. In it, I told him that apparently the school district was confused - their role was to educate MY, keyword MY, children, not raise them. I tossed that letter back on his desk and said that I would welcome any Court action they chose to take and he could count on all the media attention I could muster. Surprisingly, we never heard another word.

When we took them out this year for our trip to Disney, we didn't receive another letter. Wonder why? :rolleyes1

Family Loves Disney
02-17-2007, 10:20 AM
Triplefigs:
Do not want to hijack the thread but would like to know which doc you see at the Marcus Institute. We are looking to change and your MD sounds both knowledgable and accomodating. Thanks!

I tried to get into the Marcus Institute, but because Dr. Leslie Rubin diagnosed Justin at the Autism Clinic at Hughes Spalding, they refused to see us! We are seeing Dr. David Cantor (a neuropsychologist) out of Duluth! I love him, for the first time I feel Justin will be ok. Dr. Cantor lobbies for autism research, getting more help with the Deeming Waiver/Katie Beckett program, etc. He is highly knowledgeable on ASD and his therapies are working for children on the ASD. We just started seeing him, and we have not had our testing workup yet, still waiting for insurance to approve it. HTH.

triplefigs
02-17-2007, 10:36 AM
Triplefigs:
Do not want to hijack the thread but would like to know which doc you see at the Marcus Institute. We are looking to change and your MD sounds both knowledgable and accomodating. Thanks!

My DS sees Dr. Amy Pakula at the Marcus Institute. She is a developmental pediatrician, and I really like her a lot.

catnik
02-17-2007, 07:34 PM
Triplefigs and Family Loves Disney:
Thanks :)

jbird327
02-26-2007, 02:22 PM
I am in PA (Montgomery County) and in my daughter's situation, her class is actually run by the county and only located in a school due to room availability (she changes schools every few years). The Prinicple, ect. in the school have no say in the goings on of the students in the class. I set up the vacation during her IEP and so far they have been enthusiastic about her trips (she is now 14).

dis-happy
02-26-2007, 07:29 PM
It's all about one thing and one thing only: $$$$$! Your child is worth federal funds to that school and district, but only for the days he shows up in class. A "special needs" child is worth even more. Therefore, the pressure mounts to encourage (or threaten as the case may be) the child to be in class as much as possible.

Sorry you went through all that.

Glad I homeschool!!!

triplefigs
02-26-2007, 07:58 PM
We go for my DS IEP meeting next month. I'm taking the letter we sent to the school that got our trip excused and asking that vacations during slower times be part of his IEP. Can't hurt to try!

barkley
03-02-2007, 04:01 AM
just want to say 'don't kill the messenger'. many times it's not a choice on the part of the person who issues the notification, it's policy and they are mandated to follow it (weather they agree with it or not).

my name went out on the letters from dss regarding these issues-was'nt my choice to send them, they were generated based on the attendance in-put at the schools. if there was something i could do for someone, or a direction i could point them in to try to get the issue resolved i did so, but getting hostility directed personaly at me did'nt accomplish anything any faster.

my suggestion is to call the school district offices and find out what the actual policy is for a particular school, and find out who the attendance and truancy officers are. many times situations involving disabled kids can be resolved at that level whereas they can't at the individual school. if a district pursues prosecution, likely a letter to the district attny (who will ultimatly decide if prosecution occurs or not) with a doctor's note explaining the situation will resolve the issue entirely.