I apologize if my blog yesterday sounded bitter. It was. And today’s is even worse.
Because you see even AFTER we made the decision to de-register (that is the official process) from that school and home educate her…the local authority still acted like…(insert expletive of your choice here…I have a litany of them).
I started getting letters demanding information and home visits. Yes, I suppose you say…but aren’t they obligated to make sure children are being educated and are safe?
Perhaps…but I had already told them that we were home educating and at this point hardly a week went by without PanKwake being seen by a professional of some kind.
But what really got me angry was the misrepresentations of the laws. They wanted their home ed officer to visit us in the home…to APPROVE…our plan.
Stupid, naive me…I allowed it too. And my very autistic PanKwake showed her colors. Remember she is still adjusting to all the abuse and bullying from that school. And here this strange man was in HER home. DEMANDING that she write her name no less.
I think the final count was one meltdown….jumping on the bed…and running out into the hallway. In less than an hour.
Oh, I had all the right resources, I knew how to present myself and I used the right words, i.e. THEIR jargon. When he left that day it was with glowing praise for my efforts.
But just two days later, he calls me to inform me that he was not going to ‘APPROVE’ my provision. While he could find no fault with it, he just felt that something was up with my child. No duh? How could he see in less than one hour what that school failed to recognize in over a year? He explained that if he ticked the approved box then the council would be under no obligation to assist me in ascertaining my child’s issues. But if he did not then perhaps…
Mind you…there was NO help forthcoming.
But it lit a fire under my a$$ to get a diagnosis. Just so I could get him off my back. I went to the local CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) that had briefly seen PanKwake in school. And I began the self-referral process…something that under new rules is not even allowed.
That is slow though. So when this man called three months later, as he said he would, the only thing I had to report to him was that I had begun the process. He pressed for another meeting but after the upset it had caused both me and PanKwake I held firm. NO! Then the truth…his hidden agenda emerged…he informed me…
I don’t care about any of that. I want PROOF that home education is happening.
Proof as in workbooks or samples of work or schedules or anything of the like, including those home visits…is one thing the local authority is NOT entitled to. Unless they have reason to believe you are NOT educating your child at all. Even then their recourse is to take you to court…where the burden of proof is on them…and the standard is the common man. In other words, if you can show Joe Blow that you are providing adequate resources and the opportunity to learn…
Uh, oh…I am about to get into tomorrow’s blog…
Anyway, he was DEMANDING things to which he and the local authority knew he was not entitled. And I took my concerns to the home ed experts…other parents. I learned the laws, my rights and that this man in particular was prejudiced. All of the local families knew it. He had repeatedly harassed single mothers and people of color…and since PanKwake is mixed race, we ticked both of his boxes.
My response was a three page scathing letter to the local authority where I outlined my provision, pointed to this man’s previous report that despite not ‘approving’ us had been glowing with words like ‘good practice’. Then I dared them…double dog dared them to take me to court.
I did promise them an annual report but I was often late or even completely skipped it. And I never again allowed a home visit from that man or anyone else from education.
One good thing had come out of it all though…I had begun the ball rolling that would almost two years later culminate with PanKwake’s autism diagnosis.
I was not though finished with the local authority’s dirty and deceitful tactics. Three years later at the urging of several friends I contacted the Disabled Children’s Team to see about getting financial assistance (called a personal budget) to cover the costs of PanKwake’s carers.
Despite signing a form at the beginning of this process that assured me data protection and no sharing of information without my knowledge and consent, what they did not tell me was that man’s boss was on the committee that made final decisions. And it all began again…
The harassment and discrimination. In the end, being my shy and reserved self, I told them…
Shove your £££ where the sun don’t shine.
And this time, I played hard ball. I would not even give them reports any more. Only a letter at the beginning of each school year that informed them we still lived in their area and continued to home educate.
Maybe you think that my stance is radical or even confrontational? Maybe you feel that government has the right or obligation to look over my shoulder…in the ‘best interest’ of the child?
Do you feel that it has the right to lie, use deceit, and even break the law regarding my privacy to do so?
You see that is my problem. I dealt fairly, openly and honestly with them…at all points. I attempted to jump through all their hoops. And they still BULLIED me as much as that little boy did my PanKwake when she was in their school. No wonder that teacher told me that Zero Tolerance was just political correctness…it was standard operating procedures with these people.
When we moved, I took great pleasure in informing them that we were no longer their concern. And shhhh…I have not informed the new one. Will I? Maybe. Or maybe wait for them to come to us. Right now, I simply do not have the time, let alone the patience, to deal with bureaucratic bu!!$^*t.
Tomorrow though I will fill in those gaps…by informing you of the law and standard for home education which I must meet in the UK…and perhaps even a bit about my experience in Texas a quarter of a century ago.