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Old 03-03-2011, 10:19 PM
 
847 posts, read 3,229,792 times
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Hello. I was wondering whether anyone here had any experience with the "EMT" (Education Management Team) meetings and any related procedures at Montgomery County elementary schools?

My daughter is in kindergarten at a public elementary school here in Montgomery County (Bethesda/Chevy Chase area). She reads and writes, but apparently doesn't always obey the teacher, and sometimes scribbles on her worksheets. She received passing grades on her report card just a few weeks ago.

However, my husband was just told in a conference yesterday by her teacher that the teacher is calling an "EMT" meeting about her, but the teacher tried to make it sound like no big deal. She also made it sound like she was running up against some deadline to get multiple EMT's scheduled for other students.

This all sounded fishy to me, so I started looking up this EMT meeting on the internet, and it sounds like it's a way for them to try to label her as disabled, make her repeat kindergarten, or drum her out of school. Needless to say, I'm not liking where this is going.

Has anyone else been through this? What could be motivating her? Why would she be recommending multiple EMTs from one kindergarten class? How do I fight this? Should I hire a lawyer?

Previously, this teacher hasn't so much as bothered to remove my daughter's completed assignments from her homework folder for weeks at a time, let alone have a conversation with me. Why would a teacher like this suddenly put in the effort to invoke EMT procedures?

I'm worried that she's trying to have my daughter unfairly labeled as learning disabled so that the teacher won't be held responsible for ignoring her all year. For example, is there some test given to the kids at this level that affects the teacher's job evaluations? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:24 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
40,538 posts, read 52,725,199 times
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If your daughter is having behavior issues this is the route mandated by various federal and state laws to try to develop a plan to manage those issues.

Some of the answers being looked for is the why of the behavior. How can the teaching team and the parents work to change the behavior? What should be carried forward to next year for behavior management?

If there is a problem (and quite honestly if the teacher is asking for this there is. These meetings are painful for any teacher and 99.9% of the time aren't asked for until the teacher has exhausted her/his bag of tricks to do a classroom fix) it's better to work on it now rather than wait until 3rd or 4th or later grades, by that time the behavior is imprinted on the student and middle and high will probably be a disaster.

The school year is 3/4 over almost so my take is that the teacher has done everything she knows and is now saying, "there's a real problem here that needs looked at".

It could be something as simple as the kid being bored or still anxious at being away from home up to an ADD issue. Or just your daughter's personality. That's what this meeting plans to determine.
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:09 AM
 
Location: down south
30 posts, read 72,574 times
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Default Don't Panic

This is the time of the year that Kindergarten teachers are doing individual assessments of students to gauge progress made and what the child still needs to learn. It is also the time of year that planning begins for placement for the following year. The purpose of these meetings is to make sure that your child has what she needs to be successful. These meetings involve parents and school personnel. You do not need a lawyer.

You say that your child has problems obeying the teacher and sometimes scribbling on her worksheets. Most kindergartners have gotten these types of behaviors out of their system by this point in the school year. It could be that your child is bored, or anxious about something. It could be that your child just has an exuberant personality. It could be that your child is younger that the others and a bit behind developmentally only because of age. It could be that your child has a problem that might be a little bit more serious. This is no reflection upon you or your child and doesn't make her a terrible kid or make you a poor parent. The focus is on the child and finding out exactly what is going on with her and why she is still exhibiting these behaviors (that will make her miss important instruction and learning or cause harm to her or others). There may be additional things that the school can do to help her succeed. There may be additional things that you can do at home that will help her succeed. This is why the meeting has been scheduled -- to help.

If you have concerns about papers not being removed from your child's folder, have you talked to the teacher about them? Have you talked to the Principal about them after talking to the teacher?

Really, education is not an adversarial relationship. Everyone is involved with the sole purpose of the education of the child. You want the best for your child and so does the school. Look at this up-coming conference as an opportunity to discuss your child and her progress and solve any problems that might come up. At this stage, it is not "a lawsuit waiting to happen" and you really do not need a lawyer to attend a simple school conference. Stay calm, get in there and listen and share what you know about your child. All of you are on the side of your child -- REALLY!!
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:48 AM
 
847 posts, read 3,229,792 times
Reputation: 247
Thanks for your replies! I am grateful for all of your ideas and insight, and want to hope for the best.

I wanted to run a few more things by you and see if they figure into your assessment at all.

Looking at the MoCo school system documents online, it looks like EMT procedures are supposed to be a last step, used for no more than 5-10% of students, and only after other interventions have been used (and discussed with us). From what I've read, it looks like EMT is supposed to be the start of having kids labeled with serious problems. If there had been serious problems, then according to County guidelines, we were supposed to have been involved in diagnosing or solving them before an EMT is even considered. Am I reading those documents wrong? Do these documents not really describe how things are actually done?

I don't plan to keep my daughters at this school any longer than I have to, and I am deeply concerned about this school putting some sort of label on my child that will cause problems with the school system we eventually enroll her in. I know this teacher has trouble handing her classroom. I've seen her get other moms in a tizzy thinking their (perfectly normal) kid was ADHD and needed medication. She also indicated to my husband that she is organizing these EMTs for multiple kids in the class. So, whatever is going on, it's not unique to my daughter.

I have an older daughter at this school, and our experiences dealing with this school on her behalf have already made us wary.

We are used to our communications with the principal, counselor and others being completely ignored, even when we are describing serious problems. We learned to just back off and expect that our kids will be resilient enough to overcome the occasional problem or bad teacher as long as they don't draw too much attention to themselves. So that's the strategy we've used for our youngest daughter this year, and now, I guess, it's backfiring.

I've seen this place force out students that they, for whatever reason, didn't want. Just last year, they used my older daughter as the means to drum out a friendly African American boy. Apparently, he pulled her onto his lap one day playing on the bus. Another child "reported" this, and the boy was accused of some sort of sexual harassment and disappeared from school. I was kept in the dark about this and couldn't stop it. At the same time, the school completely ignored reports from me of other kids actually smashing her head into the bus windows, among other things. Since then, I feel like I see fewer black kids in the upper grades than I do in the lower grades, which makes we wonder whether what happened to this boy is not an isolated incident. Also, though we are not AA, we did receive some surprising comments when we first enrolled at the school from a school system in the South.


Even before that incident, that daughter was outright bullied by her first teacher at the school (2nd grade) -- constantly criticized for things as petty as how she sat in a chair and was told told that she was slow, smelly and stupid. We sat down with our daughter every night and very carefully parsed all directions on her homework, and reviewed every assignment, but she was constantly graded down anyway for arbitrary or invented reasons. The teacher stood over her shoulder in class to berate her as she worked.

We tried to teach our daughter ways to cope with this teacher and modify her own behavior to respond to every criticism, but nothing helped. She was so terrorized that it took a year before she could again do her homework without crying in fear.

When the teacher one day brought out a comment form from back to school night (where my husband wrote, when prompted for a weakness, that our daughter could sometimes work slowly) to show my daughter that even her own parents thought she was deficient, we finally felt we (and she) had done all we could to address the situation ourselves. So we drafted an email to the principal asking for a conference and, possibly, a different teacher assignment.

We got zero response. Like usual.

However, the teacher did act, for a time, like she had gotten some sort of talking to, so we let it go. Two years later, that daughter is fine, and has had some wonderful teachers since, but we are still a bit shell shocked.


So, at this point, we don't trust this place. We know they use underhanded means to get rid of students they don't want. We also know that they tolerate very open cheating in school assignments -- let white kids zoned for Rosemary Hills attend this school anyway. I don't know why these people are so soulless, but there it is.

With all this in the background, I would not be surprised if this place was gaming their test scores at the expense of the children -- maybe by labeling large numbers of kids as learning disabled so that their test scores don't count somehow on the MSAs as they rise to trough the grades? Or killing two birds with one stone -- overcrowding and test scores -- by outright forcing out kids they suspect might not test well?


Again, at this point, my only concern is preventing one bad year at this place infecting the next year, whether that year is spent at this school or another school system far, far away.

How do I make sure that nothing derogatory goes into a permanent record to muck up her placement when we switch school districts?


Sorry this post got so long. Maybe this EMT bombshell wouldn't seem so menacing if we hadn't felt so attacked in previous years. Do you still think I'm blowing this out of proportion, or should I remain wary?
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:14 PM
 
Location: down south
30 posts, read 72,574 times
Reputation: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
Thanks for your replies! I am grateful for all of your ideas and insight, and want to hope for the best.

I wanted to run a few more things by you and see if they figure into your assessment at all.

Looking at the MoCo school system documents online, it looks like EMT procedures are supposed to be a last step, used for no more than 5-10% of students, and only after other interventions have been used (and discussed with us). From what I've read, it looks like EMT is supposed to be the start of having kids labeled with serious problems. If there had been serious problems, then according to County guidelines, we were supposed to have been involved in diagnosing or solving them before an EMT is even considered. Am I reading those documents wrong? Do these documents not really describe how things are actually done?

Any kind of a contact at all from the teacher to you (note, phone call, conversation in the hallway before/after school) COULD be considered an attempt to solve the problem.

I don't plan to keep my daughters at this school any longer than I have to, and I am deeply concerned about this school putting some sort of label on my child that will cause problems with the school system we eventually enroll her in. I know this teacher has trouble handing her classroom. I've seen her get other moms in a tizzy thinking their (perfectly normal) kid was ADHD and needed medication. She also indicated to my husband that she is organizing these EMTs for multiple kids in the class. So, whatever is going on, it's not unique to my daughter.

Have you spoken to the other parents and/or organized as a group to express concerns about the teacher to the Principal?

I have an older daughter at this school, and our experiences dealing with this school on her behalf have already made us wary.

We are used to our communications with the principal, counselor and others being completely ignored, even when we are describing serious problems. We learned to just back off and expect that our kids will be resilient enough to overcome the occasional problem or bad teacher as long as they don't draw too much attention to themselves. So that's the strategy we've used for our youngest daughter this year, and now, I guess, it's backfiring.

Having your communications ignored is never an acceptable practice. If you call/email/write and get nothing for a response, you need to contact someone "higher up".


I've seen this place force out students that they, for whatever reason, didn't want. Just last year, they used my older daughter as the means to drum out a friendly African American boy. Apparently, he pulled her onto his lap one day playing on the bus. Another child "reported" this, and the boy was accused of some sort of sexual harassment and disappeared from school. I was kept in the dark about this and couldn't stop it. At the same time, the school completely ignored reports from me of other kids actually smashing her head into the bus windows, among other things. Since then, I feel like I see fewer black kids in the upper grades than I do in the lower grades, which makes we wonder whether what happened to this boy is not an isolated incident. Also, though we are not AA, we did receive some surprising comments when we first enrolled at the school from a school system in the South.


Even before that incident, that daughter was outright bullied by her first teacher at the school (2nd grade) -- constantly criticized for things as petty as how she sat in a chair and was told told that she was slow, smelly and stupid. We sat down with our daughter every night and very carefully parsed all directions on her homework, and reviewed every assignment, but she was constantly graded down anyway for arbitrary or invented reasons. The teacher stood over her shoulder in class to berate her as she worked.

(Just as a matter of interest, how do you know this last piece?)

We tried to teach our daughter ways to cope with this teacher and modify her own behavior to respond to every criticism, but nothing helped. She was so terrorized that it took a year before she could again do her homework without crying in fear.

When the teacher one day brought out a comment form from back to school night (where my husband wrote, when prompted for a weakness, that our daughter could sometimes work slowly) to show my daughter that even her own parents thought she was deficient, we finally felt we (and she) had done all we could to address the situation ourselves. So we drafted an email to the principal asking for a conference and, possibly, a different teacher assignment.

We got zero response. Like usual.

However, the teacher did act, for a time, like she had gotten some sort of talking to, so we let it go. Two years later, that daughter is fine, and has had some wonderful teachers since, but we are still a bit shell shocked.


So, at this point, we don't trust this place. We know they use underhanded means to get rid of students they don't want. We also know that they tolerate very open cheating in school assignments -- let white kids zoned for Rosemary Hills attend this school anyway. I don't know why these people are so soulless, but there it is.

With all this in the background, I would not be surprised if this place was gaming their test scores at the expense of the children -- maybe by labeling large numbers of kids as learning disabled so that their test scores don't count somehow on the MSAs as they rise to trough the grades? Or killing two birds with one stone -- overcrowding and test scores -- by outright forcing out kids they suspect might not test well?

Believe it or not, it DOES happen in this high-stakes testing environment.

Again, at this point, my only concern is preventing one bad year at this place infecting the next year, whether that year is spent at this school or another school system far, far away.

How do I make sure that nothing derogatory goes into a permanent record to muck up her placement when we switch school districts?

According to FERPA, you have the right to read your child's file and have any inaccurate information removed. If the school refuses to remove the information, you have the right to have a statement from you placed into the file regarding that information that you sought to have removed.

Sorry this post got so long. Maybe this EMT bombshell wouldn't seem so menacing if we hadn't felt so attacked in previous years. Do you still think I'm blowing this out of proportion, or should I remain wary?
See comments above in red in answer to what you posted.

Given this additional information about your situation, if I were in your shoes, I'd get my kids out of that school just as soon as I possibly could, OR lobby with other parents to get a different Principal in place as it seems that the current school administration is not very responsive to parent concerns. There are, unbelievable as it may seem, bad Principals out there just as there are many good ones (the same with teachers or any other employees in any other business or workplace). It is possible to have them moved out but it is not an easy thing to do.

Good luck to you and keep supporting your kids -- it is critical to them!
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:30 PM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
40,538 posts, read 52,725,199 times
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But Kanukook this school is in Montgomery County!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can you even entertain for a moment that anything is amiss in any Montgomery County school. They're perfect. Ask anybody.
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:09 PM
 
Location: down south
30 posts, read 72,574 times
Reputation: 39
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Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
But Kanukook this school is in Montgomery County!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can you even entertain for a moment that anything is amiss in any Montgomery County school. They're perfect. Ask anybody.
Yeah, that's why MoCo got fined big-time for MSA irregularities...
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:55 PM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
40,538 posts, read 52,725,199 times
Reputation: 54212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanukook View Post
Yeah, that's why MoCo got fined big-time for MSA irregularities...
They're just misunderstood.
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:42 AM
 
847 posts, read 3,229,792 times
Reputation: 247
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanukook View Post
Yeah, that's why MoCo got fined big-time for MSA irregularities...
Yeah? I haven't heard about this! Do you remember when this happened? Is there a thread here about it?

Thanks everyone for replying, and being so helpful.

We have a new (albeit temporary) principal this year, so it's possible this mess could go better than messes in previous years. Or this principal could be even more test sensitive than normal because she's angling for a permanent job. It could go either way I suppose.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:49 AM
 
Location: down south
30 posts, read 72,574 times
Reputation: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
Yeah? I haven't heard about this! Do you remember when this happened? Is there a thread here about it?

Thanks everyone for replying, and being so helpful.

We have a new (albeit temporary) principal this year, so it's possible this mess could go better than messes in previous years. Or this principal could be even more test sensitive than normal because she's angling for a permanent job. It could go either way I suppose.
Okay, it took a while to find it and I was mistaken about it being the MSA -- it was the test previous to that -- the MSPAP (at least in the Potomac Elementary incident). I think I was confused because every year in the "test proctor" workshop, they mention "remember Montgomery County and what happened there" when they talk about the sanctions for not adhering to the testing procedures.

This article talks about both incidences: Parents Support Teachers in Maryland Test Scandal - by Neal Lavon - School Reform News

This article from Newsweek describes the Potomac Elementary incident which was a HUGE scandal when it frist broke.
Bitter Lessons - Newsweek

(guess I've been around too long when I can remember these happening!)

With the emphasis on high-stakes testing and the current push in the state to tie test scores to teacher evaluations (Race to the Top, etc.), I would wager that more of these incidents will be happening. It's a shame. I personally, know someone who was at a school in Baltimore City where irregularities were taking place -- she reported it, and she was fired. This was around this same time period. The bad thing is that whenever something llike this happens, it reflects negatively upon us all -- even the ones who are scrupulously honest about these tests.

There are a lot of dynamics involved with a temporary Principal. Go in with copies of policies (meeting and FERPA), keep an open mind, and take notes. Good luck!
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