Better Late Than Never: The Story about Transferring Schools
The best laid plans of mice and men. I thought we'd visit Aquatica tomorrow, then I realized that Gameboy has a psychiatrist appointment. I suspect I'll let him pick an activity close to the doctor's office.
Here's something I wrote about transferring schools, but it's been trapped on the laptop while I've been using the PC to post. Yes, I do need to get a thumb drive, but it's not a priority at the moment.
Now, the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago:
First Day of School (take two)
Monday, we enrolled the boys in their new schools. What should have been a simple task was made difficult by Gameboy’s old school What a surprise.
We’d dropped by the new schools the previous Tuesday to find out what we needed to transfer them. Both schools gave us paperwork to fill out and informed us that Florida state law required a copy of their birth certificates and immunization records. We’d also need two proofs of our new address.
Gameboy’s new school went a step further, copying all the info we’d brought along with us: his IEP, a letter of introduction and his birth certificate. The secretary also was kind enough to contact the electric company to verify that yes, we did have a utility in our name at that address.
Side note here: Our former elementary school staff is the bar by all others are measured. Martha, Marie, Cheryl and the administration were friendly, efficient and helpful. If one child was sick, we were asked if they should get the other boy. They dealt with us a lot because of Gameboy, his medications and issues. We were never treated as if we were interrupting their day, rather, that we were a welcome diversion.
On the other hand, Gameboy’s middle school is staffed by people who treat us as if we are an interruption. It is far more important to ensure one’s hair looks perfect and that no solitaire game goes interrupted. They use student volunteers to do all their work. So, for instance, if we had to pick Gameboy up from the school (as we did every Tuesday), it was left to a student to get him from class. We never would be acknowledged by the secretaries sitting right there and the students were less than polite. (and I blame that on the stunning examples that the two secretaries provided).
Both of the new schools told us to contact the schools the boys were attending and request copies of their birth certificates and immunization records to bring to the new schools. The rest of the information could follow later (mainly because we’d already had Gameboy’s IEP for them).
As soon as I’d left the school premises at Gameboy’s new middle school (reveling in the feeling that encountering a friendly, compassionate and efficient staffer can provide), I dialed the two schools. At Chef’s school, I got Cheryl and she assured me that she would have everything we needed to Chef on Friday. (She even remembered that they had misplaced Chef’s immunization record when Gameboy had originally been transferred out of the school in third grade.)
The call to the middle school got me yet another apathetic staffer. “You’ll get a withdrawal letter on Friday afternoon.” I explained that I needed the copies of the two items and was curtly informed “All we have to provide is a withdrawal letter.” (More on that later.
Friday afternoon, Chef had all the items they had on hand, the immunization record was missing. We felt confident that the new school would understand that we obviously had provided it when we enrolled Chef in Kindergarten. Gameboy only had the pink withdrawal letter. This was no surprise.
Monday morning, we had two kids to start in school. Which one first? Somehow, I wisely chose to take Chef to his school first. It was a ten minute process. Our initial contact with them left us cautious. They weren’t too friendly on Tuesday, but Monday morning, they were pleasant (not quite the old school pleasant, but I realize we’ve got unrealistic expectations-we’ll take what we’ve got).
Chef was sent off to his new classroom and we went to the cafeteria to drop off the lunch application that Florida requires. We’re either eligible for free or reduced lunches this year, thanks to the lousy income situation. On the way out of the cafeteria, we saw Chef walking with two classmates, one yakking away at him already.
Gameboy said “Yo, Bro” as they came up to us and Chef barely noticed our presence.
Now, onto Gameboy’s school. We met up with the same helpful Guidance secretary we’d seen the previous week. Alas, as he’s an entering 6th grader, the law is clear-they MUST have his blue immunization record in hand before he sets foot in the classroom. (Kindergarten and 6th/7th graders have more rigid guidelines)
Mrs. J, the secretary, calls the old school once I provided the number (she was looking it up, I knew it, so I saved her time, lol). She introduced herself and stated she was calling from blah blah middle school in Lakeland, in Polk County. We’d warned her that they were not the most pleasant people to deal with and she agreed when she got the attitude that we’d experienced. Mrs. J informed us that Florida law states that a parent MUST be given any record that they have requested (so much for that ‘all we’re required’ crap I’d been told the previous Tuesday).
Mrs. J gave their fax number, explaining that Gameboy could not enter classes until that document is received (which they should know, they’re also a middle school, right?) She didn’t give them the area code though, and Ed and I both told her that Christine (perfect hair or die) would probably have difficulty with accepting the fact that she had to dial an area code. Mrs. J didn’t believe us.
Forty five minutes later, we’re still waiting. Mrs. J again calls the old middle school and gets the exasperated “I’m getting to it.” So sorry to interrupt your solitaire game, toots. Mrs. J brings Gameboy over to the cafeteria, so that he can eat his lunch. Ten minutes after that, it still hasn’t come, so I call the middle school myself and ask for Dr. T, the principal. I’m tired of the shenanigans.
I got Christine. She asked who was calling, the purpose of my call and then complains “The fax number is wrong!”. I ask her if she knew the school was in Lakeland, to which she gives me the DUH style “Yes!” and I then mention that Lakeland is area code 863. I get no comment-and as she’s hanging up, I had to get my last little dig in that I will not miss their attitudes. Two minutes later, fax in hand, Mrs. J passes all of Gameboy’s paperwork on to the Guidance counselor, who is in the midst of enrolling another student.
An hour later, it’s our turn. When the guidance counselor ushers us into her office, she’s also got the ESE liason and another teacher that will be working with Gameboy. The three of them had reviewed the IEP before we’d even walked in the door and what followed was a half hour of question and answer while the guidance counselor tried to place Gameboy according to the open classes and his abilities. For some reason, my child had PE as his first choice of elective. (You have got to be kidding, right?)
A few minutes after 12, he is enrolled and we are off to the house with just enough time for me to change for work.
The behavior of the middle school we’ve left was so poor in the seven months we’d dealt with them that I’m tempted to write a letter to the Superintendent of Schools. In my eyes, any person our kids encounter in the school setting should be modeling behavior that we want our kids to emulate. The indfference and apathy that the staffers at the old middle school display is thankfully an thing of the past.
I’m looking at the positive encounters at the two new schools as more signs that we’re doing the right thing. ____________________________________________________________________________________
Since I wrote this, Chef Jr had a dance at his school. He seems to enjoy it, though today's visit to his old school shows that they miss him a bunch and he misses them. He's asked to go visit them again when he's got another day off that they're in school.
Gameboy's school hasn't called us to come get him, which is positive. However, this means there are bigger issues in those classroom's than Gameboy. He is getting bullied by one child, but they're managing. We have his new IEP on the 10th, we'll probably get a better idea of how things are going then.