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Can a private school do whatever they want?

15 replies [Last post]
By Lori Jo on Thu, 08-16-07, 03:42

Dd's principal has enrolled her on a "probationary" status (she's been there 2 years already), and will not consider her completely enrolled until we sign a document regarding the accomdations that we and the school agree to.


Isn't that a 504?

But, it is not a 504, obviously. I am really scared that as soon as we sign something saying we agree to what the school is doing, then we have lost ground on requesting an actual 504. I'm scared if we don't sign something, then they refuse to take her.

Dh, for some reason, feels more like an adversary here, and I can't figure out why. Every time we discuss this, we just end up arguing. He wants a 504 also, but doesn't want to "push it."

Can they even do this as a requirement of enrollment? Or does this violate some part of the 504?

We talked with the public school today. Apparently they don't do 504's for FA's either. So, while I would have a bit more legal leverage there (they can't all the sudden decide she can't go to school there anymore), it would not gain us any ground 504 wise, and it would mean transfering her two older sisters out of a really good class as well.

It probably is not helping us that the diocese is currently being sued for refusing enrollment of a child who's parents refused some immunization. The front page of the Austin paper had an article about it, including a part where I think they were discussing non-discrimination based on school lunch funding. Completely different issue, but I'm sure they are feeling embattled.

So, I'm sitting here, about to cut and paste my 504 proposed document, into some other private school "approved" document, with the fear that they just say "Oh, we can't do any of that...do you still want dd here?"

He's already said "we can't do a PN free table with a sign, that might just make someone want to walk by and smear PB on it." Are they not cleaning the tables anyways? And this at the school where there are some of the nicest kids I have ever met, most of whom think dd is the cat's meow. And this is less preferable than the every 4th friday PB&J lunch they have, that is getting smeared everywhere?


edited for neccessity
Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Noah, 7-29-05
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

[This message has been edited by Lori Jo (edited August 22, 2007).]

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By PinkPoodle on Thu, 08-16-07, 04:40


[This message has been edited by PinkPoodle (edited August 28, 2007).]

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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-16-07, 07:40

First let me say how awful this is. I am so sorry and you know I feel for you. So sorry. What I am going to say, is totally my opinion here, and maybe others smarter and more well versed than I will give you better thoughts, but here it goes.

I think that they are purposefully using time against you. It's down to the wire, school is nearing the start. They are trying to make it seem so rushed for you so that you will do what they wish.

Please document everything. Get the things that they are telling you [i]in writing[/i] if you can. I would first ask for a copy of their policy on the probationary enrollement'. Go in face to face if you can. *Be pleasant, controlled, no fear* If they have no policy, I will assume at that point they would have to fess up. Secondly, I would give them a letter you prepared ahead of time, stating that since X school is a recipient of federal financial assistance ( and you know this to be the case, right?) the law requires that the school evaluate your child for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and that you are requesting one. Ask them to put it in writing whether or not they will evaluate your child. You may also wish to provide them with some 'education'. Your letter could state that federal civil rights legislation clearly states that any school that is a recipient of federal financial assistance, private school included, may not deny a qualified handicapped person enrollement. Period. What they've done to your child already is discrimination. Refusing to evaluate is further discrimination.

Keep in mind, a 504 plan follows a distinct track. Evaluation, designation and accomodation. Evaluation always comes first. What you have going on is no where near a 504. Evaluation first.

Lori Jo, with what your public school has said, they are actually excluding a group of persons (severe food allergic) from the right to receive an evaluation under Section 504. That is blatant discrimination...to look at a class of people and not afford them the same opportunity to evaluate and receive accomodations because they don't *think* they qualify? Without reviewing doctors letters, speaking with the child's parents, drawing from a variety of resources as 504 law requires they do? Federal agencies recognize LTFA as a hidden disability. Who [i]are[/i] these people? I would ask the public school, (if you're really interested in your child possibly attending there), to put it that statement in writing. Ask [i]them[/i] for an evauation and ask them to put their denial of one in writing. If either school denies you an evaluation, you may immediately file a complaint with whichever Civil rights office the funding comes from (usda for lunch only funding, or dept of ed for other funding). You might have trouble getting this from the private school as it seems they are all about throwing a monkey wrench anywhere they can.

I would not sign anything from that school. Demand they tell you whether or not they are going to evaluate your child for 504. Maybe pulling your office of civil rights card may be helpful. I used this helpful post from Nuttermore here at pa.com when I needed to move a stalled process forward. They were not evaluating either. You may need to rework it for your timeframe etc.

[i]1)you have attempted to collaborate with them, but the fact remains that there is lack of resolution, and the school year has nearly ended
(2) As below correspondence indicates, the official position of USDA OCR is that they are obligated to comply with the law
(3) You wish to continue to collaborate to move the process forward. However, if they fail to move forward (you define the specifics here), then you will have no option but to explore all alternatives available to you, including the possible filing of a discrimination complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.
You can close with a requested response within a specified timeframe so that the ultimate conclusion is that a plan is in place prior to the start of the school year[/i]

Of course Lori Jo, I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not offering legal advice here, just my own thoughts. I can only hope that if you stick to the steps, evaluation first, and there is some refusal on their part to do that, maybe the thought of a civil rights complaint would open their eyes a bit.

Can anyone here offer some thoughts for Lori Jo??

Please let us know how things go for you.....many hugs...

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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-16-07, 07:47

Lori Jo,

Here is the Regional Civil Rights Office for the Food and Nutrition Services who administers the National School Lunch Program (this is what your private school participates in right?). I would email them...so you get their response in writing. Ask them if a private school which participate in the NSLP must comply with Section 504. When they tell you yes, you can take that email to the private school...maybe it will help. I would hope it would greatly. It may take awhile for them to respond though.

Southwest Regional Office
Rebecca Lucero
Acting Regional Civil Rights Director
1100 Commerce St., Room 522
Dallas, TX 75242-9800
(214) 290-9800
(214) 767-9600 (fax)
Email: [email][email protected][/email]
Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

If your private school also gets money from the US Dept of Ed, you can also contact them.

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By Lori Jo on Thu, 08-16-07, 19:13

lilpig and pinkpoodle, thanks for your support. It really helps to have someone else understand this.

This school absolutely falls under the 504 mandate. They receive USDA funds and food for the lunch program.

I am fighting this on two fronts. Dh, who has had all the face time with the principal, is convinced that if we push them, the school will simply not enroll dd, no reason given. Dh is convinced they can do this without repercussion, because they are a private school and can choose who they take. He is much more prone to do what they want, and then work around it later.

Personally, I think that since dd has been there 2 years already, and they gladly took our "pre-registration" money last spring, that to dis-enroll her now would look mighty suspicious. Especially in light of no discipline issues, etc.

As for the public school, I'm not saying they are denying 504 status, just that they don't currently do it, for FA's. Probably because no parent has pushed the issue. That is only a factor because if we did move to public school, we'd be starting at scratch there. I was disappointed, since I was hoping I'd be able to use the public school 504 person as a resource.

The public school would not be our first choice anyways. Older dd's have been in this private school for 4 years. They provide a good education in a (usually) wonderful environment. The public school, in my mind, is simply adequate. Our current private school has made accomodations, they do try to keep dd safe. What is blowing my mind, and raising my stress level thru the roof, is their complete resistance to affording my dd her rights, as defined by law, to document those accomodations in a way that makes them standard across the board for her.

And it is really p*$$**g me off that they are holding their ability to jettison dd at will if we don't do what they say.

We are supposed to meet with the staff next week to do epi training. I am seriously concerned that I will be unable to maintain a calm, professional veneer around the principal. While I hopefully won't get snarky, there's a good chance I may break into tears. And THAT p*$$*s me off too. I hate that this man has the ability to get me at a gut level.

Ok, deep breath.

Thanks again, for your words, support, and the links. I will try contacting the Dallas rep tonite, from my home email.

Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Noah, 7-29-05
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

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By The #L Mouser! on Thu, 08-16-07, 19:51

Quote:Originally posted by Lori Jo:
[b]Dd's principal has enrolled her on a "probationary" status (she's been there 2 years already), and will not consider her completely enrolled until we sign a document regarding the accomdations that we and the school agree to.


sounds like this guy is going to "ex-communicate" your daughter's enrollement if you fail to recognize the infallibility of the administration. (hope that made you laugh)

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By Lori Jo on Thu, 08-16-07, 20:31

He can try. We're Methodist. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Actually, I think it is the opposite. He's so afraid they might have a reaction despite their plans, ane we would then sue, that he's not even willing to try.

Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Noah, 7-29-05
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-16-07, 20:44

Lori Jo, I understand how this stressful situation makes you very emotional...some people yell, some cry. Don't be so hard on yourself, but *do* attempt to try to remain calm. I know it will be tough...I've been there.

I hope you can get your DH on board in terms of accepting the fact that if this school that takes federal money...even if just for lunch...that they are required to comply with USDA law. Maybe let him read the USDA law? I'll see if I can post the link to it, unless you already viewed it in my other posts. Part of that law states they cannot deny a qualified handicapped person enrollment...even at a private school (if they take USDA $). If the school ends up denying your child enrollment because you're not jumping through some imaginary hoop of theirs, ask for the 'hoop' policy in writing--they are making your family follow additional rules (ones they made up even) compared to non disabled families...so wrong, if they deny enrollment, get their denial in writing and file your complaint if you wish.

Your public school is denying *evaluation* rights, not 504 status...two different thing. Maybe even worse. You're not even getting [i]the chance[/i] to get a 504 there. Awful.

I'm sorry you have SO much on your plate right now. And I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record in all my posts, but I do wish I could help you...

I know how stressed you must be. Take things one step at a time and remember you are not alone. HUGS

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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-16-07, 20:55

This link will take you to the text of a very specific part of the law regarding private schools that take assistance from the USDA:


[i]15b.28 Private education.
(a) A recipient that provides private elementary or secondary education may not, on the basis of handicap, exclude a qualified handicapped person if the person can, with minor adjustments, be provided an appropriate education, as defined by

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By The #L Mouser! on Fri, 08-17-07, 00:57

Quote:Originally posted by Lori Jo:
[b]He can try. We're Methodist. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]



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By PinkPoodle on Fri, 08-17-07, 06:03


[This message has been edited by PinkPoodle (edited August 28, 2007).]

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By Lori Jo on Fri, 08-17-07, 13:31

Lilpig, thank you for the links. I actually have them, linked, and in writing, in a binder I'm assembling. I am getting familiar with the law. I'm taking, was it Gail's? advice, and am reading, reading, reading.

As for the public school - that is not my battle to fight, yet. If everything works out with our current school, we change to public after grade 6. Perhaps we will need to educate them much sooner.

Pinkpoodle, I am complete agreement with you, we are hanging by a thread. Dh this morning even said "Maybe we shouldn't pursue a 504 later." Ack. They have him running scared. When I told him that they are not allowed to be making these requests regarding her allergy contingent upon enrollment, he was surprised. Again, I think the issue here is how much are they "allowed" to do, legally, vs as CorvallisMom stated on the MD board "what do we allow them to do?"

Personally, I see a 504 as a way to protect the school by providing clear guidelines to everyone involved. My goal is to get them to see it that way.

I do feel that if we don't push for a standard that is universal for her, then I am just selling her up the river. Gvmom's post has me thinking as well. We spend so much time trying to fit our children safely into society that it almost becomes second nature to walk straight to that back seat. That's not fair to our children.

Right now, to avoid the conflict about "why can't she start school?" we are going with the flow. Once classes start, we'll see...

I'm not willing to sit back and let them completely dictate what they will accept. I'm not willing to go the next 7 years at this school relying solely on the non-official paperwork the principal is comfortable with.

I need to look at the Mass case and add it to my binder of stuff.

Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Noah, 7-29-05
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

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By Aswood on Thu, 08-23-07, 00:38

Ok I am in the same boat.... Private school is only option for my City. Private school is asking for a release of liability for our PA child...Not sitting well with me. Do you know of a website to find if a school is recieving federal money or USDA. I e-mailed the contact person as well.....


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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-23-07, 03:09


You're in VA , correct? The above link to your State Board of Education may get you the info you need on your schools paricipation in the National School Lunch Program. On my state's Board of Education site, I had to poke around alot, do some searching for private schools and the hot lunch program, but I was able to get alot of information. Our private school clearly advertised that they particpated in the program. If I were you and could not ascertain this from the website above, I would anonymously call the school to inquire whether or not they particpate in the National School Lunch Program. It should be that easy. I can't see any reason they wouldn't tell you...some private school use that as a selling point 'we offer nutritious lunches...'. You don't have to tell them why you're asking.

As far as funds from the Dept of ED, I ended up asking my school outright. The Dept of ED never answered my call for help in determining whether or not my private school received money from them. It ended up not mattering anyhow...the lunch program funding was enough.

Good luck.

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By Lori Jo on Thu, 08-23-07, 03:49

Again, thanks so much for all the support and info. Dd started school today. The school has implemented a Food Allergy Policy that makes her room PN/TN free. They did not go so far as to say what would happen if this was violated. The priest who oversees the school (who has never had a school until 6 months ago) was unwilling to extend this to the physically adjacent kinder class (there is a restroom between the two.)

The principal asked us to sign a conditional enrollment form, stating full enrollment was pending acceptance of the food allergy plan by the above priest. This was just yesterday. The principal did agree to give us a letter once it was approved saying that the conditional enrollment was over and that she was fully enrolled.

Cautiously waiting now. Not going to rock the boat...for now. Will see how things go.

I am changing my username, so will be posting more anonymously. I'll keep you all updated thru other threads.

Thanks again for all the support. It has really been a life saver for me.

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By lilpig99 on Thu, 08-23-07, 03:52

Lori Jo, how relieved you must be to at least get to this point. I hope things turn out smoothly for you and the full enrollment comes. I understand about that boat, we all do at times.


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