Right after Christmas we began preparing for our move back to Germany. We had received orders for a small NATO base on the border of Germany and the Netherlands. Of course as a mom of three school age children, my first and only goal was to ensure the school was "up to par" for all three of my children. They each have their own strengths and personalities. Carrington is an all around A student, she loves to learn, kicks butt at math and science (although she will never admit it!) and plays the clarinet. Jensen is a great student, loves math and any new biography, and wants to play baseball. Then there's Emmie, which is the artsy kid in the family, but also needs the extra educational support. So, I emailed the only American elementary school that we are allowed to attend. There are actually two American elementary schools in the area however time and time again I was told that the Air Force children attend only one of those schools, the Army kids got the other. I'm not sure their reasoning and went all the way through the District and never received an answer. Anyway, I emailed the school and waited. The Resource Specialist there responded with a simple, "we can handle your daughter's issues". The next few months our emails went back and forth, me sending a list of questions and her responding with the typical "we can support you". Never once did she answer a question or give me information on what programs they had to offer. She even lost part of the IEP that was sent to her.
During this time, we made the decision for my husband to travel ahead of us and me and the kids would stick it out in California until school let out. My husband made every attempt to go to the school and give the lady another copy of the IEP, a copy of the 16 page report from Dr. Swain, and another copy of the questions I had. When he didn't receive a response from her, he went to the Principal. The Principal listened to him and said he would provide a list of their available programs. A few weeks later, the Principal handed him a form letter containing no real "information". It was then I knew I would not send my children to that school. Period.
My husband applied for an EFMP reassignment, in the hopes the Air Force would find a location for us that could support the educational needs of our child. He landed in Germany in March and it wasn't until the first week in July that we received an answer. They were going to send us to Washington. Okay, I can live with that. Schools are great, area is nice, I'm good with Washington. Two days later, we were informed that Washington was off the table and we would be staying in California. My husband will be returning in August.
I'm not exactly sure how this process takes place. How the Air Force decides what is best for our child based on what is written on a piece of paper? Obviously the system is broken as we have been through more hassle than help in the last few months. Now, we are stuck in California. A place where the budget is being thrown down the toilet. Where education is as important as the trash on the side of the road. Money keeps getting cut, classroom sizes are getting bigger, teachers are getting laid off. In the upcoming school year, I am scared to death to send my child to school. I am afraid she will not have what she needs with all the cuts being made. She is a special needs child but she also is in a traditional classroom setting. I can not imagine her in a classroom with 24 other children, no health, no PE, no music....no break from the day to day auditory overload. My fingers are crossed, but the Air Force certainly consider the family in this instance. I hope the EFMP process is more helpful to other families.
More later as dinner is calling,