Help for 504?

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So I just spoke with my DD school about her allergies for the second time. A few weeks ago I spoke with the RN, who gave me their policies on peanut allergies, and I'll list some of them later. Overall I'm happy with what he gave me, but I'm still not too sure about the separate lunch table since no one else can sit there unless they have PA also. He pretty much indicated she would be separated from her class, and possibly by herself. :(

Anyway, this time I had other questions, some of which were answered fairly well. At the end of the conversation I mentioned "MDs I've communicated with have indicated that she would qualify for a 504" and left it at that. Then I got the whole 504s are for educational needs only, and we take it very seriously and do everything we can, and we have others with PA also. Here's my problem: I can't get in to see the allergist for 2 weeks - I don't know his position for sure, and I haven't spoken with my ped yet because I'm not sure he would go for supporting the 504. What do I do if they won't support me? Who from the school should I go to now to get more information/persist in my quest? The time I spent last night reading the VERY long 504 post, and links to documents supporting food allergies and qualifications for 504, convinced me I should persue this. Does anyone know if anything is different if the school is a charter school?

On Apr 8, 2008

As long as the school receives federal funding, for books, lunch program, what have you, then they must comply with federal anti discr. laws.

If I were in the situation, I would not address or speak to anyone at the school about 504 right now. If you wish to pursue a 504 for your child, I would formally request in writing a 504 eligibility meeting for your child. Keep all communication in writing. ALL of it.

Obviously your school is erroneous in their belief that learning must be affected in order for 504 to apply. It may be a battle, maybe not. Prepare yourself with all things 504, what it is, why children with LTFA's are covered and all of the supporting documentation. And be prepared to ask the school to put all of their (erroneous) beliefs [i]in writing[/i]. Don't discuss ANY accomodations you will be seeking. Your first step will be to simply get your child an evaluation meeting and see to it that he or she is appropriately evaluated. Accomodations come after the fact--you don't need to even hint at what you will be asking of the school, you don't want that coloring their views.

If they deny you [i]a meeting [/i]to determine your child's eligibility under 504, then they are already violating your child's rights. If that's what they do, get their denial of a meeting in writing (even an email). Every child has a right to be evaluated for 504 protection.

As far as your allergist, some people have never mentioned 504's IF they feel that the doctor may be less than an advocate. If your allergist is willing to stipulate to the facts of your child's allergy and the severity of it (***sig. limiting the major life activity of breathing*** most importantly) then you may still have the support you need to get the job done.

Good luck and keep reading.

On Apr 9, 2008

Thanks Krusty Krab for your input. Yes, obviously the school is incorrect in their interpretation of 504. To whom should I send the letter requesting a 504 eligibility meeting? I don't want to jump the chain of command, but I also don't want to get lost in a run around.

I'm feeling pressure about her summer school since they take multiple field trips and the coordinator basically said they can't control what the other/older kids might bring for snacks, and the nurse told me he doesn't train the additional summer staff on the epi-pen, and there will be a different nurse for the summer. They have a decent start on a peanut allergy plan, but I can see sooo many cracks where accidents may happen!

If I shouldn't communicate with the staff, what do I do until the 504 is approved? I would be shocked if the process was completed before the middle of June!

On Apr 10, 2008

The letter could be sent to the principal, the 504 coordinator or coordinator of special services (whatever the title is of the person in charge of 504's). If it were me, I would send it to the attention of all of those people.

I'm saying if it were me, I would not discuss 504 matters with your school unless it were in the context of a formal meeting. I am talking about things like-- why your child is eligible for services, what accomodations you would write into the 504, etc. Of course you would still need to continue to speak to your teacher about day to day dealings to keep your child safe.

You need to get educated in all things 504. Seriously. You need to understand the law and how it applies to those with LTFA and what agencies also believe this. Anything you can learn will help you. Here is a great site to understand 504, and even a sample outline for a 504 plan:


Good luck.

On Apr 10, 2008

Oh ya, I forgot to mention that NO school can make a child sit [i]anywhere[/i] because of their disability. That would be as wrong as making a separate table for those of a different skin color or sex.

Get used to the term 'disability'.

On Apr 10, 2008

I think you hit a sensitive subject right on...use of the term "disability".

Funny how in my job, I work with disabled people the entire day trying to overcome their physical disabilities, and I don't even bat an eye at it. But it's hard to wrap my head around my kid being labeled as such when it doesn't "appear" that she fits the category. (Which she obviously does based on the letter of the law.)

On Apr 19, 2008

Check this out from the US Dept of Educatio's Office of Civil Rights, entitled:

[i]The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973[/i]


here is an excerpt:


Hidden disabilities are physical or mental impairments that are not readily apparent to others. They include such conditions and diseases as specific learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy, [b]and allergy[/b]. A disability such as a limp, paralysis, total blindness or deafness is usually obvious to others. But hidden disabilities such as low vision, poor hearing, heart disease, or chronic illness may not be obvious. A chronic illness involves a recurring and long-term disability such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, high blood pressure, or ulcers.

Approximately four million students with disabilities are enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Of these 43 percent are students classified as learning disabled, 8 percent as emotionally disturbed, and 1 percent as other health impaired. These hidden disabilities often cannot be readily known without the administration of appropriate diagnostic tests.[/i]

On May 2, 2008

Nearly every school dist has a 504 cordinator now. As I sure you know 504 protects anyone for any reason that effects a "vital life function". Last time I checked breathing qualifies. Also by seperating your child the are violating more laws. Inclusion is not an option. You can also let them know in your 504 meeting that none of the requests you ask for are costing them any money, while you could very well require an aid for you child to clean every surface they come in contact with. That would cost them aprox 20,000 to 28,000 per school year. The choice is theirs.

On May 4, 2008

[b]504 protects anyone for any reason that effects a "vital life function".[/b]

[i]Substantially limits [/i]and major life activity are the terms you're looking for, legally speaking. And it is not just for [i]any reason[/i], rather [i]impairment, handicap[/i], that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Achieving 504 status means you were evaluated, and a conclusion was made that said impairment was indeed [i]substantially limiting[/i]. Just to clarify.

The US Dept of Ed explains it so much better than I:


[i]The ED Section 504 regulation defines an "individual with handicaps" as any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment. The regulation further defines a physical or mental impairment as (A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases and conditions that constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list.

The key factor in determining whether a person is considered an "individual with handicaps" covered by Section 504 is whether the physical or mental impairment results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Major life activities, as defined in the regulation, include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.[/i]

On May 4, 2008

Now, when are they going to add [i]eating[/i] to the list of major life activities and make it much easier for children to have 504 protections?

On May 10, 2008

Hello. I am getting ready to send my daughter to kindergarten in the fall and I am having trouble getting the school to cooperate with me. She has anaphylaxis to peanuts. I am hope to go forward with a 504 plan, but I am not too familiar with how to go about it. Do I have to have her evaluated and who does the evaluation?

On May 10, 2008

maysmom, a [i]team[/i] usually made up of you, a 504 coordinator for your district, a nurse, principal, teacher or a similar makeup, will convene at a '504 eligibility meeting' and discuss your child and whether or not her health condition rises to the level of disability that Section 504 lays out. You will need to ask for this meeting, [i]do it in writing[/i]. [b]Keep a paper trail for everything, document document document.[/b] They cannot deny you a meeting and must evaluate your child. Acquiring a letter from your allergist can be extremely helpful. The letter attests to your childs condition, the severity of it, and an important aspect that [i]anaphylaxis substantially limits the major life activity of breathing.[/i] This is the language of section 504 and is really what you need to 'prove' so to speak, eligibility. If you are going to seek a 504, you need to read absolutely everything about this law and understand fully how it pertains to children with life threatening food allergies. A great place to do this is at:


Once you are prepared, you can better fend off the stall tactics and misinformation that a hesitant school is likely to throw at you.

Keep in mind that there are essentially two parts to getting a 504. First being acquiring eligibility status, the second being the accomodation phase--where you and the team decide what will happen through the course of the school day to keep your child safe. For example, an accomodation is handwashing, or no food in the classroom, or teacher carries epi pen throughout the day, and so on. Anything that pertains to keeping your child safe and included is an accomodation. I can only urge you to refrain from discussing any accomodations before you acquire eligibility. They may want a sneak peek at what you are planning to ask of them, don't give them one. Stick to getting the eligibility first.

I raised a thread for you entitled 'why not obtaining a 504 is a disservice to your child'. There seems to be alot of great stuff in there. Good luck.

On May 11, 2008

Originally Posted By: Krusty Krab

Now, when are they going to add [i]eating[/i] to the list of major life activities and make it much easier for children to have 504 protections?

Krusty, there is legal precedent that "eating" is considered a major life activity.

On May 12, 2008

That is truly wonderful, Momcat. Could you list that reference here so everyone can learn from it? Thanks.

I hope the OCR will soon espouse 'eating' as a major life activity and list it alongside the others. How can anyone deny that eating is a major life activity? YK?

On May 12, 2008

Thank you for your help. This is definitely helpful in getting started. I will update how is goes and share what I learn.

On May 22, 2008

I'm back on the quest for accomodations for DD. I mentioned I would post the school's current policies on peanut allergy:

-Education of all school staff in care of allergic student, anaphylactic reactions, epi-pen use, practice, locations -Letter to parents in classes with a peanut allergic child requesting no peanut products (listing of the many types including oils) in lunches, snacks/treats; any special occasion food be store bought with labeling and checked by the school nurse. -Peanut free table -Peanut free sign on door of classroom (peanut free class) -Hand washing after every snack/lunch for all students in school -Epipen taken on all field trips -No PB sandwiches prepared in cafeteria -Lunch tables washed after every lunch period -Age appropriate eduction in PA child's classrom on allergies and how to support the health and safety of kids with peanut allergies -Zero tolerance for teasing/bullying about peanut allergy

Now, this is all fine and good, but today we did the kindergarten screen and I spoke with the summer school coordinator. First she threw out "we are a peanut free zone." I asked to clarify if this was a school wide policy or just classroom based. She never really said, so I'm assuming it's still classroom based. She went on to say that they won't serve anything with PB, but if a kid wants to bring in PB sandwich or PB crackers and have them for snack or lunch, they can as long as they wash their hands afterward. BIG red flag in my book!!! At least she said that any class treats should be PN free. I can't believe she actually said this in front of other parents, when this is in fact not the policy! She did say DD could pick a friend to eat with her at the PN free table if the lunch is PN free.

I have been trying to schedule a meeting with her and the RN to prepare for summer school, which she has not responded to. The RN scheduled with me for next week and seemed to indicate that he wanted the principal involved. The principal referred me to the summer school coordinator and the RN previously. ARGHHH!!!!

I still don't know if I want to go the 504 route. I feel the school has a pretty decent basic plan, but needs this incorrect information addressed. I will definitely be bringing this up in my meeting! I feel the RN really gets the importance of the allergy, but this summer school person doesn't seem to think it's a big deal. After my meeting and the feedback I get for pointing out this misinformation, I will determine if I should go for the 504.

On May 26, 2008

I am working on a rough list of accomodations/guidelines for my meeting this week.

Are there things any of you have forgotten in developing your 504 or school guidelines? I'm trying to think of everything. Here are some I've thought of: -DD to be allowed to speak up if ANY symptoms of reaction -DD be accompanied by an adult to RN office if any symptoms of reaction present -Sit near front of bus in line of sight of teacher. -Teacher competent in recognition of reaction, use of epipen, have EAP with epi. (common sense, but I don't want to assume this) -Husband or myself allowed to attend any field trip, class party

I'm going to send an email to the principal requesting a 504 eligibility meeting. I'll never know if I could get it unless I ask, right? I hate to do it in email form, but this close to the end of the year I don't want to go snail mail. I don't think the meeting this week will address 504, but I at least want to get some things started for summer school.

On May 26, 2008

You can always run down the sample 504 outline at this site:


Good luck at your meeting.

On May 28, 2008

Still working on accomodations here as well. I feel that a peanut free table is a good start, but is it "social normalcy". I can't stand the idea of isolation. What do you all think?

On May 28, 2008

Some families love the peanut free table, others do not want one. It's really a personal choice.

For my child, it is not something I want. I do not want the isolation for my child. Inclusion is key. We've weighed the safety options and feel for us, having our child sit at a regular table works. Anyone bringing nuts in their lunches may not sit adjacent to my child. It's worked [i]for us[/i], it may not sit well with others.

Keep in mind, that a school cannot force a person with a disability to sit anywhere. If they tell you that, they are wrong.

On Jun 3, 2008

Thanks everyone for your help and ideas on this.

I asked for a 504 meeting last Tuesday, knowing my meeting with the principal and RN was on Thursday. Since the 504 coordinator was in the building for IEPs, she stayed for my meeting as well. I came prepared just in case this were to happen. I prepared a list of DD's allergies, previous reactions, and the accomodations we wanted. I also had extra copies of the information from the many links that have been listed on this site in support of 504. Initially, the 504 coordinator was hinting that not everyone needed one, but once everything was reviewed, she agreed it would be appropriate. YEA!

There are a few things we are still working out. I think I'll be okay with the peanut free table since there are other kids allowed to sit there after their lunches have been checked. We'll see how it goes. If there are issues I will address it further. DD is just so sensitive to PN, I feel better with this right now.

What have the rest of you done with shared school supplies? The RN suggested DD have her own, and I initially said no since I wanted her to have as much "normalcy" as possible, but the more I think about it I'm not so sure.

There is another link going on right now about food in the classroom; the RN and 504 coordinator brought up "no food in the classroom", rather than relying on others who don't understand all the nuances of PA. I was planning on food restrictions, but didn't expect this. In a way, I wish we could just closely monitor the food and have some for parties/holidays since that's the "norm", but at the same time it is a huge sense of relief to have that risk removed. Of course I won't let my guard down, knowing that there is always error.

Tomorrow I am meeting with the summer school teacher and RN. Fortunately this teacher had a student with LTFA two years ago, so she has some experience with this before. Of course there is always room for more education! :)

On Jun 4, 2008

Having no food in the classroom really would help reduce the risk. My child's class has food restrictions, and errors are made constantly! Kids bring in peanut butter snacks, though they are not supposed to. Parent's dropping in constantly with treats your child can't have and may not be safe to be eaten in the classroom. And the holiday parties are the worst! At every party my son was offered unsafe food by both the teacher and the classroom parents because they said they "checked" the ingredients and it was safe! NOT! Luckily, I was there. But it was also very hard because I had to be the one to tell these parents the food could not be served in the classroom. I think the parents honestly felt bad because they really believed the foods they brought were safe, and I think they were also disappointed that they were not able to contribute.

I felt awful! If we had a no food in the classroom rule, this would not have happened. Believe me, the more food that comes into the classroom, the more difficult it becomes to keep unsafe food out.

BTW, good for you AND your school for doing the right thing!

On Jun 4, 2008

Glad they're doing a 504.

And I want you to know what a huge thing it is to have a school [i]offer[/i] to have your classroom food free. Seriously. I can only wish that one day our school would see this solution as best.

I say take it and be very, very thankful you had it laid in your lap.

On Jun 4, 2008

So maybe I spoke too soon. This is a bit long, but only you all here will understand and provide suppport. Today was my meeting for summer school. The RN, summer school coordinator, and the 2 Kindergarten teachers were there. I'm a little concerned about a few things.

First, the 504 was explained to all in the room as a method to avoid discrimination based on the life functions listed in the guidelines, and that after the summer session it would be determined if it was going to be necessary. WHAT!? I know the phrase "based on what you've presented, she would be appropriate for 504" was stated and I felt a huge sense of relief. There is no mistaking that feeling, as I assume anyone persuing this would know. For now I am focusing on summer school, but I will be providing copies from the DOE about food allergies and 504 for the fall if they don't want to do it.

There was some balking about all the handwashing due to classroom time constraints. Based on what I've read here, I okayed use of hand wipes at the start of the day and after snacks and lunch.

So much for the food free classroom. It is still supposed to be peanut free, but I'm not really certain. There are morning snacks to be provided by the parents for the whole class. I've agreed to do this for the first day, possibly the week. They also want a "safe" snack list. I will provide them some ideas, but also mention the guidelines that need to be followed and insist that the date be on the list and that it is subject to change. I was told if a snack item enters the room that is unsafe it will be removed and not eaten. Of course there was also a request for DD to have some safe snacks handy....hmmmm, they shouldn't be necessary, right?! As for lunch, initially it will happen in the cafeteria, but that will transition to a trailer outside due to construction. Until the trailer is ready, lunch will be in the classroom. DD will have a "safe" table in the room, but I've been told even though it is requested not to bring in PB, it still happens. If it continues to happen, a call will be made to the parents of said child. I'm not very happy with this. I can kind of understand letting PB slide by in the cafeteria - at least it's not the room she is in all the time. Allowing it in the "PN free classroom" creates more anxiety for teachers, my child and myself. At the least all tables will be cleaned after lunch.

All the specials teachers, paras, her teachers will be trained in epi and recognition of anaphylaxis. I also wanted other teachers who would be at recess trained and informed of DD's allergy since I would expect they would all watch the group as a whole and if DD's teacher was busy with another kid, someone else might pick up on something not right. That wasn't really understood.

I have been asked to do a presentation on the first day of school to explain PN allergy to the class. I'm okay with that, although a bit nervous about it. At least if I am presenting, I will know the information being offered, vs hoping the teacher has accurate knowledge. It will likely be a bit akward for DD since she is used to having 4 PN allergic classmates, but she will be the only one this time.

They asked me if DD should ever be allowed to go to the bathroom without an adult. I told them I didn't think that was necessary unless there was even the slightest thought there could be a reaction, and then an adult should accompany her to the nurse's BR.

Sorry to vent. I'm still trying to remember everything that was discussed. I tried to restate all points clearly so things weren't assumed to be understood, but now I'm finding I didn't take good notes. I feel the school is trying to understand, and the practical application of the precautions is a challenge. But it's not really something that can be compromised too far.

On Jun 5, 2008

You should write a letter of understanding stating what you understand the accommodations to be. Use your notes and memory for this. You can also state the accommodations that you feel are not acceptable, mainly allowing peanut butter to be eaten in the classroom, along with your reasons. Also, you should state at the end of the letter that if you have misunderstood any part of what was agreed upon at the meeting that you expect they will contact you in writing if you did in fact misunderstand something. Give them 5 to 10 business days to reply.

I am sorry I am in a hurry, so don't have time to be more specific, but here is a sample letter of understanding:


It is not specific to food allergy, but it is a great start.

On Jun 5, 2008

[b]There was some balking about all the handwashing due to classroom time constraints. Based on what I've read here, I okayed use of hand wipes at the start of the day and after snacks and lunch.[/b]

I think this is good.

[b]They also want a "safe" snack list.[/b]

I'm usually against these lists. Manufacturers can change things at any time. We read labels every time, assume nothing, ever.

[b] DD will have a "safe" table in the room, but I've been told even though it is requested not to bring in PB, it still happens.[/b]

No, it doesn't just [i]happen[/i]. Otherwise there is no need for a 504. A 504[i] makes[/i] it NOT happen. Demand a PB free classroom. Them letting this allergen into her classroom is a great liability for them.

[b]I have been asked to do a presentation on the first day of school to explain PN allergy to the class.[/b]

I think this is good.

Have you written out the plan yet??

On Jun 9, 2008

The more I think about it, I'm going to voice my extreme concern about allowing PB for lunch while in the classroom. I feel it starts a slippery slope - they let it in for that, why not otherwise?

I'm still working on the presentation. I've ordered the PALS stickers and pencils. I started another post since I read about someone else doing this, but I can't seem to find that particular post. I'm worried it may be a tougher crowd than adults! :)

As for the safe snack list, I am insisting other info about how things may change and the labels need to be read every time be on the list as well. I don't like the idea of the list either, but at least it's a starting point, maybe to not make it seem so overwhelming for the other parents who think it's huge restriction to go peanut free.

Thanks Krusty for all your help. Your input is always appreciated!

On Jun 13, 2008

If you are pursuing a 504, then there's something you should know about going into it.

There is a really important OCR eligibility case for the LTFA community--for our children.This is a landmark moment for us in that OCR investigated a complaint against a school district because the SD said the a child with LFFAs (PA & TNA) was not diabled and did not qualify for a 504. The child had two letters from a doctor and reaction history. [b]OCR ruled that the SD discriminated against the student.[/b]

This link is to a blog entry about the case. There's a link to the Resolution letter in it--and no doubt a link to the main page at that mentions the case. But the blog is a great place to start. [url=""]When a School Refuses to Protect a Child w/ LFTAs--OCR Ruling on 504 Ineligibility[/url] This link provides a more general account. Scroll down to the fourth paragraph when you see Peanut Allergy. [url=""][/url] And here's a link to the Closure/Resolution Letter: [url=""][/url]

BTW--the blog entry has a place for responses. It might be good for them to see how grateful we are for having these resources on their site. I know I've really used in the past two months preparing for our 504 meeting.

I am going to cross post this. I came here for the express (only) purpose of posting this important information.