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Posted by Jim O'Donnell on July 27, 2000 at 13:02:53:


I have a 6 year old son with a diagnosis of Autism/PDD (he was diagnosed about 3 years ago). Brian has been through a division TEACHH oriented speech preschool and is in a self-contained classroom which is under contract with Division TEACHH in North Carolina. Additionally, he receives 2 hours speech therapy at school and 3 hours Occupational Therapy at UNC Hospital per week. My wife and I do one on one intervention daily.

Under the contract with the state, the Division TEACHH classrooms are to follow a standard IEP and to be staffed with 1 certified teacher and 2 aides per classroom (up to 6 students). Our experience the first half of last year (1st year in the program) was wonderful. There were 2 teachers and 4 aides for the 2 autistic classrooms which contained a total of 9 or 10 students. Brian was more or less at the head of his class. His teacher was very experienced and, along with his OT, made a lot of progress with him. In late October, however, the teacher left on maternity leave which my wife correctly suspected would be a permanent leave. No replacement was hired. (apparently there were not even jobs posted). One of the aids was "emergency certified" although she does not have a teaching certificate and she acted as the teacher under the "guidance" of the certified teacher in the other classroom. It is apparent that the school does not intend to hire a replacement this year (in violation of their contract).

My question is this. Has anyone here ever taken on the school system or fixed a problem like this? What routes other than a lawsuit have been effective? We feel as though the last 4 months of school were not the best use of Brian's time and it looks as though this year is being set up as a total waste.

Any experienced squeeky wheels out there?

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