Private schools with federal funding - what can they get away with?
I posted this in the schools section, but am hoping for a bit more exposure. I need some advice.
DD has been at the local private school for 2 years. Her older sisters, for 4 years. They have been good about making accomodations for her, but have been unwilling to actually forbid PN's in class, etc. The teacher's have been great, except for the below described incident. The principal has never been willing to "impose" on other students (i.e. no PN in the rooms, etc.) Due to an incident last year, where dh was asked to come get dd out of class, so that the other children could enjoy the PB cookies a mother brought in, we decided to ask for an actual 504 plan.
Essentially, by law the school must do at least a 504 evaluation, because they accept USDA funding and food.
Now, we did not do it correctly, by requesting an evaluation in writing. I simply gathered several plans from members here, generated a document that covered what we were looking for and submitted it. The purpose was to get the school to look it over and then we could have a dialogue and work together to find a solution that worked for all of us.
After a month, we recieved a phone message from the principal saying there were things in the document he just couldn't do, and while they sure do want dd there, "you know, we don't have to accept her."
After picking my jaw up off the floor, dh and I began trying to work with the school. BTW, we still have that message on the machine.
The next interaction was a phone call. I was there, listening as dh's comments went from "a PN free table, with a sign, so that it is not used after school, etc." to "What do you mean she is no longer enrolled???" And at one point, the principal saying "if you make us sign something, I'll resign."
After dh going down to the school and meeting with the principal, dd is now on "probationary" enrollment, until we sign a document with the school regarding the accomdations we all find reasonable. Now, this may be basically just what we were asking for. Maybe not.
This is NOT a 504.
Dh is convinced that if we rock the boat right now, they'll simply refuse to enroll her and that will be the end of it. Since they are a private school, they can accept or decline whomever they want. Then whether or not we want a 504 will be moot, since she won't be able to go there anyways. He wants to go along with their requests, get her officially enrolled, and then start requesting a 504. He doesn't even want to ask for any of their requests in writing, for fear of scaring them off.
I think that since dd has been there 2 years, has had NO discipline, etc, issues, and that they gladly took our "pre-registration" money last spring for her, that to dis-enroll her now would look mighty suspicious. I would really like them to put these requests in writing. Dh refuses to ask.
I am not looking for a fight, but do not want to meekly capitulate for fear of them kicking dd out.
Also, the only other schooling option for us is the "adequate" public school, which also does not do 504's for FA's. (Yes, they should, but that is another story.) We'd be starting from scratch there as well. For many reasons, despite this principal, we'd rather stay at this private school if at all possible.
So, does anyone know exactly what private schools can require us to do in regards to dd's PA? I am not QUITE ready to find a lawyer yet. This is a very small town, and this should be such a non-issue that to escalate it that far may do more harm than good.
But do we have any recourse? Is there anything that we can do regarding just getting dd in the school that does not involve catering to their whims?
Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99