Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hope for Santiago

My friend Linda came through. She hooked me up with Daisy Pasqualvaqua, a clinical psychologist who does educational testing of children. Linda has referred a number of American University students to her and had excellent results. An added bonus is that she is bilingual. When I finally reached her, I knew immediately this was the right person to help Santiago. She proposed three testing sessions – a total of 7 hours of testing. She normally charges $2300 for this battery of tests and the written evaluation, but agreed to a fee of $1200 since it would be difficult for us to cover such a large fee. I made an appointment for 9 AM on May 13.

Meanwhile Mrs. Burns, the special education person at Flintstone Elementary School, has not done any of the things she had agreed to do following our meeting with her last week:
– Send the family a “parents’ rights” booklet in Spanish,
– Send the detailed test results from 2002, and
– Determine a time for the meeting with Santiago’s faculty team on April 25.
When I tried to call and ask about these things, she said she could only speak to his mother (who unfortunately can’t communicate with her in English).

I decided to try to get some more information about Prince Georges County’s policy concerning independent testing, especially the circumstances under which the county is obligated to pay for the testing. After about a dozen calls, I finally reached a wonderful woman, Dianne Dormio, who actually wants to help me. She is the compliance representative for the northern part of P.G. County. She referred me to a Dr. Crayton, who is her counterpart in southern P.G. County. She also told me that if Morena (Santiago’s mom) signs a parental waiver, I can then communicate with people like Mrs. Burns at his school. When I called Flintstone about this, I couldn’t find anyone who had ever seen such a form. I’m not surprised. But I haven’t given up yet on this. Meanwhile, Ms. Dormio contacted Dr. Crayton and suggested that she exert some pressure on the school to get moving on this case and that she actually come to the meeting on April 25.

Morena is delighted that she may finally be getting help for her son – or at least some answers as to the nature of his problem. I am so excited to think this may all work out. My heart goes out to mild-mannered immigrants like Morena, who put all of their trust in U. S. bureaucracies, like the public school system, only to find out that they don’t really have their best interests at heart. In this case, they are far too busy dealing with disciplinary cases to do what is necessary to help a little boy who never causes any trouble.

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