We began to meet as a small parent group and look at what options were available to us. We asked to be placed on the School Board agenda and went before our elected officials to state our case. (http://mn.gov/mnddc/pipm/makingyourcase/index.html)
I understood that for the Board to take an action we had to address them collectively.(http://www.myflsunshine.com/sun.nsf/manual/d7b6960216b3f10b852566f300571852). Our first attempt was not well received, as the Board continued to defend their decision based on the multi-district agreement, and that it was more cost efficient to contract the service rather than provide it themselves. We left the meeting with our hopes of any quick resolution dashed. It was clear that my son would continue to be forced to endure the bus ride and the isolation from his community. I was in over my head and had no idea what direction to take. Without the internet, back then, the only option was the local library and the phone book. I spent countless hours placing calls looking for help to no avail.
I located a book in the local library called, Negotiating the Special Education Maze,(http://books.google.com/books/about/Negotiating_The_Special_Education_Maze.html?id=ZnJTPgAACAAJ) from a group in Virginia called PEATC (Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center) (http://www.peatc.org/). I started learning more about the process and felt some relief at finally getting a basic understanding of all these meetings and what they meant. There were so many still unanswered questions and I continued to research additional help. I finally reached a number from the phone book from a group called the Advocacy Center. This was called a protection and advocacy center. (http://www.disabilityrightsflorida.org/) The person I spoke with was a gentlemen named Francis Flood.
What a relief to finally speak to someone who understood what I was saying and was willing to take the time to listen and give me guidance. I clung so desperately to this lifeline and finally understood that what was happening to my family and other families wasn’t appropriate, and that despite what I was being told there were things I could do to change it.
We continued to meet as a parent group and I would share the information I was being provided. We all started to learn about the Education of the Handicapped Act (PL-94 142). I learned what The Act was, and how little I really understood about the process and what I really needed to learn. (http://nichcy.org/laws/idea)
Our parent group continued to attend our school board meetings pressuring them to act on behalf of our children. It was apparent that our continued presence at the board meetings made them uncomfortable. It was at this time that I filed my first State complaint on behalf of my son. (http://nichcy.org/schoolage/disputes/statecomplaint) This was my first attempt at exercising my rights (procedural safeguards).