FINALLY requested 504! But need help PLEASE?

Posted on: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 1:15am
janbiv2's picture
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Joined: 02/12/2004 - 09:00

Well, I finally requested the 504 in writing to my district after whining and complaining here many times and dragging my heels because I was trying to avoid confrontations. Well, I'm still hoping to avoid confrontations
but I really need help with one issue.

My MAIN concern is that right now my son's class is not a nut free classroom. The parents were asked to refrain from sending in peanut products for snack time (they eat snack in the classroom), but the school's stance is they can not stop a parent from sending in nut products for snack. And some parents have.

I want this changed, obviously. I don't think any child should be allowed to eat peanut butter or nut products for snack in the classroom. I'm sure you all agree with me. Just way too dangerous.

Here is the sticky part. The kids DO bring in peanut butter/nut/seed products for lunch, but they eat in the lunch room and my son eats at a nut free table. Also, I think a LARGE number of kids in the class eat peanut butter for lunch. At my son's field trip I counted 8 kids eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch! Thank goodness I was there, because the teacher didn't even notice that 3 of them were sitting at my son's table and one of them was right next to him and his buddy for the day! YIKES!

So, if his classroom is designated a nut free room, does this mean the kids can not bring in a peanut butter sandwich for lunch as well, even though they won't be eating it in the classroom? I know the teacher keeps Justin's lunch box separate from the other childrens, but it seems to me that all those snacks sitting in all those lunch boxes with peanut butter sandwiches are now contaminated, even if the snacks themselves are not peanut butter.

The school is already requesting I obtain further documentation from the doctor, so it seems they are moving rather quickly on this, and I don't know how to address this issues.

How is that handeled in other 504s? Are the kids allowed to bring in peanut butter sandwiches if they eat lunch in the lunch room and your child sits at a nut free table? Or does nut free classroom mean nut free classroom...no peanut products in the room, even in a lunch box. Period?

Thanks for any help. I need to be clear what I expect from the school or they will walk all over me.

Thanks,

Janis

Posted on: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 2:31am
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I am struggling with this myself. My son's class is supposed to be nut free, but that is a request and not mandatory. There are signs posted about handwashing and being nut free on the door. There was a letter sent out to the parents. I think the teacher tries to make sure it is enforced, but the principal is not much help.
I am battling with the principal on serving an alternative to the class when there is something on the menu that is a peanut product. She does not believe that if it states "processed in the same facility as or contains traces of" that it is a peanut product. I disagree 100% and so does my son's allergist. It states in my son's 504 that on days a peanut product is served his class will be served an alternative. It also states that the children in his class are supposed to wash their hands before and after lunch. But they do not after snack.
I am in the process of trying to get a more detailed 504 written. Check out some of my post and they are some good links on there that might help. That is what I am trying to do. Good luck!
Oh, by the way, I am also about to go in front of the school board and ask that all peanut products be removed from the school menu. I am also going to ask for non food or healthy food birthday celebrations. I have even called the state board of education for advice.

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:35am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

Hi janbiv2,
Congrats for your 504 designation request. You have to start somewhere, don't you? (and get ready for confrontation, it may go hand in hand with this process, but you and your child will be better for it in the long run...) Having the 504 designation meeting is step one. Do not discuss any accomodations with the school at this point. They do not need to know ahead of time just what you are considering for accomodations. Once you get the designation (get the thumbs up that yes, your child is considered to be qualified for protection under section 504), then you will beging the accomodation phase. This is when you lay out just what you (and hopefully your allergist) need to keep your child safe at school. They may agree with all you ask for, they may fight you tooth and nail, so be prepared for anything.
Why is the school requesting your child's health information now? I would not want them discussing your child in regards to 504 qualifications at any other time other than at the 504 designation meeting. Period. You are a part of that process
Think of each 'action' as a separate accomodation. A nut free classroom does not mean a nut free lunchroom. If you want both, you will have to ask for both. If you seek a nut free room only, then you may want to stress the need for handwashing after the lunch hour.
If you are seeking to have a nut free classroom, then you need to be prepared to 'argue' this point to the powers that be. A letter from your allergist, examples of how cross contamination easily occurs. The school needs to truly understand how allowing something deadly to one of its students into the classroom is just not right. If you get the nut free class accomodation, be prepared to decide what will happen if someone violates this accomodation...will the teachers pass such an item out at the end of the day? WIll the teacher proactively send a note home to parent stating that if someone brings in nutty items for a snack into the classroom, she will do this? Think of all of the what if's and get them in writing in the 504.
It seems to me that having lunch boxes that might contain nuts, would at the least, need to be separate from your childs lunch box. If the other childs boxes remain closed throughout the morning, is this ok with you? Would you rather have the children's lunchboxes in the hallway?
Remember, do not discuss accomodations with the school right now. Your only discussions with your school should be 'when will the meeting occur?'. If they ask you what it is you are seeking as far as accomodations, you can answer that in many ways...'i will be happy to discuss this after our eligibility meeting.' ...'I am still discussing these things with my child's allergist.' 'I'm still working it' ...whatever.
Hang in there and take things one step at a time. Hugs...

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 3:18am
janbiv2's picture
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Thank you so much! Now that I have finally started the process, I am so nervous! I also do not trust this SD. I have had dealings with them when my son was a preschooler. He had an IEP for speech and language issues, but towards the end (prior to K) things got ugly. Clearly, this SD likes to have all its ducks in a row before the meeting with parents actually happens. When my son was transitioning to K, they decided WAY back in November of the year before what setting they planned on placing my son in come September! In order to make this happen, they visited his preschool, spoke with the teacher and therapists, decided AMONGST themselves the best placement, THEN SET ABOUT making my son FIT their placement! They wanted to place him a special class and have him dx'd with autism.
Can you spell ILLEGAL? My goodness, this was so illegal it was amazing! They are not supposed to even discuss placement until after the the needs of the child, goals and IEP are written! NUTS! Long story short of that situation, I help my son back a year from K and started him has a regular student and he did wonderfully! However, when I attempted to start the 504 process last year for the food allergies, came to find out they kept his IEP open and I was flagged as a difficult parent for not allowing them to evaluate him for autism! I ended up spending a ton of cash to have my son evaluated by a VERY reputable and well known child psych because I knew he did not have autism and the SD wouldn't accept reports from local doctors, but it was the only way for me to get the school to close his preschool file!
And now he is in school with no difficulties whatsoever, the doctor negated my son having autism, and he is doing great in school, so clearly they were way wrong and I was right. But I had to fight like hell to get my child in a regular classroom!!! Can you imagine? You can see the difficulties they have caused me in the past!!!
Now, it looks like they want to do something similar?
What documents do you think they should have BEFORE we actually have an eligibility meeting? Should I get the allergy test results and give it to them prior to a meeting? I have already supplied them with a letter from my allergist stating his allergies and that they are life threatening. The doctor also recommends a nut free classroom in the letter. He states in the letter that he can be reached at his office, so shouldn't that be permission enough for them to contact him?
BTW, I haven't received word of a meeting date. Should I just gather the allergy results for the meeting? I am ignoring that other form. The information it asks for is totally irrelevant, wouldn't you think?
I just get the feeling they want to decide eligibility before we even meet and I am confused.
Thanks for your help and any other advice here.

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 8:59am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

They do not need any documents before your meeting. Yes it is true that some people do give them some info before, like test results. But many do not want the school deciding for themselves (without you) whether or not they feel your child qualifies outside of the meeting.
Just because the allergist is willing to talk to the school district, doesn't mean that they are legally allowed to view your child's health records. Any doctor giving out personal health information to just anyone, without consent from you, in writing, would be in a heap of trouble. I would never allow a school to discuss anything with my child's allergist or let them have access to my DD's records. That is my child's personal health history and it is private. I can't see the school needing anything right now, aside from your allergists statement about the life threatening aspect... coupled hopefully with the acknowlegement that a major life activity is significantly impaired by this allergy. You are right in assuming they want to decide eligibility without you around.
I myself brought test results to the meeting. But gave them nothing beforehand. Not one thing. They even asked me for a draft of my wishes, I put them off. They aren't required to have anything beforehand. If you don't hear from them in a reasonable amount of time, I would ask them to contact you to schedule a time to meet, in an effort to move things along. Stalling by the school is common. Keep on them, respectfully of course.

Posted on: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 9:00am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

I can't recall what other form the school asked you to fill out?

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:39am
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Joined: 02/03/2006 - 09:00

Hi,
I hope you don't mind me stepping in here - I'm a school nurse. I joined this board hoping to get helpful information on what is concerning to parents regarding their kids' food allergies. We have several children in our school who have severe food allergies. I am the 504 monitor in our school, so I think I might have something helpful to offer you! First, it is not unusual for a nurse or other person doing the 504 to ask for documentation from the physician. I know for myself, I like to know exactly what I'm dealing with up front. No one can use documentation from a doctor to tell you that you can't have a 504. That is illegal. If you request a 504, you get one, end of story (provided the disability qualifies, which food allergies do). We knew in our school that we had students coming in with food allergies, and prepared the classrooms in advance. One is in kindergarten. I spoke with his physician's office, got documentation ahead of time from them (with mom's permission) and we prepared the classroom accordingly. He has numerous allergies, including eggs, lemon, tree nuts, mustard and beans. We don't allow tree nuts/peanuts in his room, but he can be around the other allergens as long as he does not ingest them. (This is per his allergist). The other classroom has a highly peanut/tree nut allergic child. He is in first grade. His classroom is peanut/tree nut free. Snacks are brought in from home, and they must be nut free and are inspected prior to snack time. His mom brought in wipes for the tables, and after snack, all kids are responsible for cleaning up their area with wipes. This was worked out with his mom and dad on his 504. We do not allow any lunch boxes except for his to go into the classroom. They are left in laundry baskets out in the hallway. Snacks are bagged separately and go in with backpacks. If someone has brought in a snack with nuts, we have alternate snacks that are kept in the classroom. They are not allowed to eat it, and it goes out with their lunch. Our school is not peanut/tree nut free. This was a decision I encouraged. I feel that making the building nut free sets up a false sense of security, because we cannot, no matter how hard we try, guarantee that there will be no nuts. Logistically, it is impossible to check every lunch. We have a nut free table and anyone who wants to sit their has their lunch checked by an adult in the room. (We do not have a hot lunch program as of yet) Because there can be no guarantees, we have an action plan. We do our best to ensure the safety of our food allergic students, but if there is an allergic reaction, we have a plan in place. The majority of the staff in our school are trained in the use of epipens. We have laminated emergency action plans posted in rooms that are frequented by all students, with pictures. I realized this could be a breach of confidentiality, so I got permission from all involved parents to put their kids pictures and action plans out in plain sight.
My advice to you would be to not go in expecting a fight. Have you tried talking to the nurse? I'm sure she also wants your child to be safe! I know you had problems in the past with this sd, but I would really like to believe that your school nurse has the best interests of your child at heart! None of us want to see a child have an anaphylactic reaction - and we do the best we can to insure that doesn't happen! The other thing I want you to realize is that other parents in the district can get angry/disgruntled over having to adjust their child's diet. We had a parent burst into tears over the fact that we didn't want her child to have a pbj sandwich on a field trip. We were just too far from a hospital to risk it. She had a fit because her child "only eats pbj". We have had parents go to the school board and complain, and ask when they were going to be told who these children were! I was there and told them it was none of their business, that they would find out on a need to know basis.
Also, as far as getting information from the physician's office, a school nurse does not need parental permission to get information if this information is necessary for the treatment of the child. "...the provider may disclose treatment information to a school nurse, regardless of whether the school nurse is also a covered entity." This is from HIPAA 45 CFR 164.506 (c) (1) or (2). This does not mean that a school nurse can get just any information, it can only be something that would be pertinent to his/her time in school, such as food allergies. You can read the entire article at [url="http://www.mass.gov/dph/fch/schoolhealth/hipaa_faq.htm."]http://www.mass.gov/dph/fch/schoolhealth/hipaa_faq.htm.[/url]
I hope some of this was helpful to you. If you have any other questions that I could help with, let me know!
Steph

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:52am
stephklem's picture
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Joined: 02/03/2006 - 09:00

One more thing...all the kids in the classrooms with food allergies wash their hands whenever they re enter the classroom.

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:58am
janbiv2's picture
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Joined: 02/12/2004 - 09:00

Thank you Steph! Your post is very very helpful to me. My child's school is not nut free, though I would love for it to be, but I don't expect that to happen, nor am I asking that the school go nut free.
I do however wish they would remove peanut butter from the school menu. Last year they served uncrustables which were wrapped, and while that made me nervous, this year they now serve peanut butter on bagels for breakfast. I do wish they would remove the peanut butter from the menu, but I am actually almost afraid to ask for this as I don't want to be too demanding.
My main concern is the classroom is not peanut/nut free. A letter was sent home asking the parents to please refrain from sending in peanut/nut/sesame products for snack, but according to the nurse/principal this is basically a request and not a demand.
My son is in 1st grade this year, and there were MANY problems last year, such as the children did several crafts in the classroom with foods that were unsafe for my son. They had an Easter egg hunt in the classroom and the eggs were all filled with peanut candies. That's just to name a few.
This year, I have been told the following:
NURSE: "We can't tell parents they can not send in peanut products for snack. It's against the law."
TEACHER: "I can't control what parents send in for snack."
PRINCIPAL: "The teacher can't check all the snacks to make sure no one has peanut products." (They eat snack in the classroom, so that would be 24 kids)
NURSE: "You have to tell XXXXXX to look and see if any of his classmates are eating peanut products and tell him to inform the teacher. Then the teacher will sit the child elsewhere."
NURSE: "There's nothing I can do. We can only ask the parents to refrain from sending in peanut products."
NURSE: "Don't worry. No one is going to send in peanut butter for snack. And if XXXXX sees someone with a peanut butter cookie, he should tell the teacher." (Peanut butter HAS been sent in for snack, btw)
NURSE: "XXXXX can not attend the field trip unless you or your husband go with him."
BTW, many of these statements were repeated to me on several occasions.
Right now, the only kids required to wash their hands after lunch are those that ate peanut butter, but according to my son that is if the teacher remembers. I'm sure there are plenty of times where having 6 or 7 kids wash their hands after lunch before sitting down is very inconvenient. From what I witnessed during the field trip, I doubt this is being done every day.
My son also told me the kids ate snack during centers time last week. So that means while they are eating snacks, they are handling the materials at all the centers areas.
I get the impression they do not want cause any problems with other parents. My sense is they find it easier to deal with a "few" parents of allergic kids who are generally accepting of what they are offering than dealing with the barrage of parents complaining they can't send in peanut butter.
I

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 6:01am
janbiv2's picture
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Joined: 02/12/2004 - 09:00

Thanks lil,
I'm thinking of holding off on this document until I at least have a date of when the eligibility meeting is going to take place. I will keep you posted how things go. Thank you for the invaluable info so far!

Posted on: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:14pm
stephklem's picture
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Joined: 02/03/2006 - 09:00

Wow...it does seem like they aren't being as careful as they should be, and that is a pretty sad commentary. One other thing we did, which you might offer to do, was to have the parents in to speak to the other parents in the room. This was scheduled by me and the teacher, and supported by the principal. Because we knew other parents in the school were somewhat confrontational about the whole allergy issue (look out if someone thinks their civil rights are being violated!), we wanted to put a face to the situation. That made it more personal, and when we had a parent or two make out of line comments (which did happen, unfortunately) other parents in the room were quick to jump in and defend the allergic child, i.e., "What if it were your kid?". It definitely helped to include all the other parents. It made them part of the decision making process, rather than being told what to do...although I personally feel that if you are dealing with a life threatening situation, there should be no compromise. But, that isn't the world we live in, unfortunately!
We also have the epi pens go from place to place with the kids, and they are in lunch box type containers. Our first grader does go back periodically if it's forgotten, but we are a small school, and all the teachers know who he is, which I think makes a difference.
Your nurse is right, you can't tell someone not to send something in, but you can let them know that if they send it, it won't be allowed to be eaten in the room. Of course, that is only applicable if it is a peanut/tree nut free room. I would hope your school could see their way clear to at the very least provide you with that accomodation. If you would like, I can scan a copy of our 504 plans (names deleted, of course) and send them to you through email. Let me know! Maybe if you have something in writing from another school to show, it will help your cause. Also, I have an allergy policy from another school in our district that I could get to you.
Let me know!
Steph

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