Ms. Holmes with daughter Leanne Holmes
Update: Ms. Holmes joined the board. Her daughter, Leanne, has traveled overseas. Leanne is building her brand performing as much as possible while in college. Her performance help pay for her college education. With her mother as her manager, her trademark L-Stringz. if you need a performer, please consider L-Stringz.
I have been working with Ms. Phyllis Austin & TNPEC for the last 4 years. Within that time, there have been a number of issues that Ms. Austin has helped me to deal with regarding the DeKalb County School System, from meeting my child’s educational needs, school transfers, bullying, discrimination, etc. Therefore, it’s really difficult for me to give my perspective about just one incident that happened with my child. But what I’ll try to do is give an overall summary of what TNPEC has done to help me & my child.
Initially, one of the most important things that Ms. Austin gave to me was an education. At our first meeting, Ms. Austin gave me a detailed explanation of what the CRCT & ITBS tests meant. She gave me a clear understanding of how each of the tests worked as well as what the tests really meant specifically with regards to my child & our local school system. This alone opened my eyes to things that I had never known before. It has also given me the knowledge & the confidence to be able to evaluate the different schools in my county. And, I appreciate Ms. Austin so much for taking the time to do this.
Armed with this knowledge, Ms. Austin & I looked at my daughter’s grades & various test scores. We evaluated where she currently stood & identified potential areas of improvement. Additionally, we took a look at her current school & discussed whether or not this was a school that was meeting her educational needs. The end result was that this school was not so we developed a plan to work on getting my daughter transferred to another school in our county that would meet her academic needs. I stop depending totally on teachers and in many cases, inadequate low-quality teachers to teach my child. My daughter has always been on the honor roll, receiving all A’s & B’s. She had also scored exceedingly high on the CRCT. But we wanted to improve her scores on the ITBS test.
After my daughter’s scores were improved, the next step came in the upcoming school year. We applied to my county’s school system to have my daughter transferred on the basis that her home school did not meet her academic needs. We were rejected. We have had to fight with my local county pretty much every year on this issue. So we’ve had to appeal multiple times to the highest level of authority in my local school system. We were rejected at nearly every level. My local school system’s board didn’t even read the emails that we sent to them. We’ve had so many doors closed in our face. But every time, Ms. Austin was always prepared to take it to the next level. Whenever I was ready to give up, she encouraged me to keep fighting. And even with the current school year, we’ve had to go outside of my local school system all the way to the Office of Civil Rights. That case is still pending at this point in time.
Ms. Austin & TNPEC has done some of everything for me. She has spent many late nights helping me to gather documentation, coaching me on what to do/say, & preparing letters of appeal. As a result of Ms. Austin’s tireless efforts, my daughter has been approved for transfers to better schools outside of our home attendance area (but still within our county). And I have no doubt that we will be successful again in our efforts this school year. Without Ms. Austin’s help, I believe that my daughter would’ve started to suffer academically from regression.
One of the reasons that DCSS has rejected our applications for transfer, was due to the fact that they see that my daughter is academically successful. But what they fail to realize is that when a child of her high ordered thinking level is not consistently being challenged, eventually they’ll start to get bored. And, once a child gets bored, they’ll start to become less interested in their academics. Ms. Austin understands this & that is why she has fought so hard for my child. And I greatly appreciate her for that. Without her, I don’t know where my daughter & I would be right now.
So, I want to encourage all of the parents out there to get involved with Ms. Austin & TNPEC. Ms. Austin has personally given me the knowledge, power, courage, & inspiration, to fight for my child’s right to equal access to a high quality education. And if you work with her, she’ll do the same for you & your child. Ms. Austin understands every aspect of what we go through as parents as well as what is happening within our school systems. She can see every angle because she is a parent herself & an educator. So everything that we are going through or will go through, she has already experienced. And it is because of these things that there is no one else who can do what she does. So get involved with the TNPEC today.
S. Holmes, Dekalb County Schools, GA Parent
“When I first contacted the National Parent Education Center, I was totally at my wits end with Edwards Middle school in Rockdale County. It was near the end of the school year and I had been trying to get my son evaluated for an IEP since the first day of school.
During the school year, I attended a number of meetings that were supposed to be part of the evaluation process, but turned out to be no more than a professional string along. I had even contacted the Georgia Department of Education and still there was little progress.
In the meantime, my son received a series of failing grades and was bullied repeatedly throughout the school year. There was name calling bullying. He was beat up by two boys while going to the bathroom. He was slapped in his head by another boy in the hallway. He had his IPod and cell phone taken. The last incident was when he was beat with a chain by another student – – in the classroom. Yes – hard to believe but true and the teacher was present, claiming that she didn’t hear or see anything. My son is yelling, “screaming” according to another student, on the floor crying and came home with bruises on his neck and legs. When I was at the school talking to the assistant principal and had to hear this story, I broke down and cried. My son, thirteen years old and all we have been through over the years, had never seen me cry. I had to wait 45 minutes to speak with the principal about this situation because he was “playing basketball”. I was hurt, my son was hurt but now I was angry. After meeting with the principal I knew that they were not going to do anything. They hadn’t done anything to help in the past but I knew something had to change. I didn’t know where to turn for help. I had gone to the principal, the superintendent and even to the Georgia Department of Education. I was being placated, I knew it. But I didn’t know what to do about it.
In talking with my sister, she recommended that I contact the National Parent Education Center. They would know what I should do. They had helped her when she needed help with her son regarding a school matter. So I looked up the website and called. And when I did, it was as if a huge bright light came on. Mrs. Austin was unbelievably supportive. She quickly assessed the number of educational violations that had taken place using such legislative terminology that my head was spinning. Violation of the ESEA, failure to provide adequate accommodations, failure to protect a child in a violent situation and the list went on. To my surprise, she offered to meet with me that very day. A load was lifted and again tears came to my eyes because for the first time in my child’s school life, I felt like there was someone hearing me, there was someone on my side. I met with Mrs. Austin and brought all the paperwork I had as she requested. This was late in the day, around 5pm.
Again, I was taken aback and extremely surprised when I opened my email the next morning and read a 10 page letter that the National Parent Education Center prepared on my behalf to send to the school. Unbelievable, I know, but so true. I sent the letter to the school and it was like I was dealing with a different school. All of a sudden, I received emails and phone calls from the principal and the superintendent’s office. I had been trying to contact these people all school year and nothing. Now I was getting responses as if I was the president of the school board. Needless to say, my son was finally evaluated for a learning disability – the very next week – after school had ended. It was determined that he needed assistance in nearly every academic category – the proof that I needed and had been asking for for so long.
My son was put in a summer school class, in another safer school, with a special education teacher and his math grades went from 50% to 94% average. He gave me a “high-five” today when I picked him up from school and he told me about his grades. My prayers were answered. I know that I still have a long way to go and still need to work to get him the help he needs and get his formal IEP but I finally feel that it is doable, with the help of TNPEC. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
D. Walton, Rockdale County Schools, GA Parent
“I would like to take this time out to thank The National Parent Education Center for the outstanding work you did on behalf of me and my children. When I was in my most dire need of help, I was depress and confuse on how to help my children, you and your organization stepped in with guidance on Federal and State laws and regulations that helped turn a negative event into a positive outcome.
I thank God for The National Parent Education Center, because you really care about my children. I don’t know what I would have done without your guidance and support. I would recommend your services in a heartbeat to any parent that needs assistance in helping their children with any unfair treatment by teachers, principals, or a school system.”
M. Duffey, Dekalb County Schools, GA Parent
“I called the National Parent Education center after speaking with Mrs. Austin at a mutual friend’s residence. I began to explain my issue and asked if she could possibly help me. My husband and I transferred our daughter from a private school to a public school closer to our home.
I visited the school, 2 weeks prior to its opening day in 2009, to speak with the counselor(s) and to let them know what my child’s educational needs are. To my surprise they totally ignored the official information, which listed prior testing and learning accommodations, that I had given them. And, to my disappointment my daughter received straight F’s for the first progress report.
I again went to the school every two weeks to check on her progress only to find that they did not believe me about her needs nor tried to help her; they continued to say that she was lazy and not paying attention. I went back and forth with the teachers for almost half the school year by the time I spoke with Ms. Austin.
I must tell you that from the very beginning I felt comfortable knowing they were involved. The information, Professionalism and knowledge that they have were far more than I had expected. They guided me every step of the way as I began to go to the top of the Chicago Public School system ladder to get help, a lot of it was to no avail, yet they knew how to find the right people and what to say to them.
I worked hard I must admit but with their help I must say the last two marking periods were A’s and B’s which was important because my daughter was in 8th grade and could have had to repeat the grade over or go to summer school neither of which she had to do. She graduated with her class. It is important to know as a parent that they can help you but you must be willing and relentless to help your child in time and effort.
I appreciate what they did for me and my daughter is also thankful. She is on her way to High School.”
Thank You so much TNPEC
Mrs. A. Mumphery, Chicago Public Schools, IL Parent