home from 504 meeting...did not go well

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 5:44am
MattsMommy's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Well I'm back and it did not go well. First, the vice-principal that has been so difficult to work with thus far didn't run the meeting at all. The school psych did. It was if she was playing the "bad cop" role. Literally. The vp instead typed notes..literally took the minutes of the meeting while we all discussed issues.

At each request I made the school psych would wrinkle her brow, turn her head to the side and say "welllllll" and then condescendingly explain why this or that wouldn't work.

Things that stand out (and I had no answer for and am begging for some direction from you all) are as follows:
1. RE epi-pen being in his classroom and his teacher and all other adults (specials) being trained to administer the epi (currently store it in nurse's office, teachers not trained)... they stated they can't "make" ANY teacher learn or agree to administer the epi. The classroom teacher has agreed to do so, but what about specials? They will "make some calls but are sure they have to keep it locked up in the nurse's office and cannot force anyone to be trained on it." This was their statement despite a doctor's letter stating otherwise.

2. RE 504 plan itself: School psych (the "bad cop") stated the 504 plan is about "general accommodations" and things such as my request to place a "peanut free zone" sign on the classroom door is "up to the teacher" and something I can discuss with her at a later date. CAll me crazy but I've seen VERY specific 504 plans on here..how do I make THEM see that? Oh and their reason for this is that she so "kindly" explained is because "the 504 is a LEGAL document and that if we were to move mid year or switch schools, the other school is NOT bound by the specific accomodations we list in the 504..would be up to them as to how they accommodate Matthew.

3. In discussing a peanut free kindergarten (vs. peanut free table which is waht I ultimately agreed to) the bad cop stated that they cannot make mandates for other children in MATTHEW'S 504 plan....she explained to me that this plan was for HIM and they can't dictate what other students do. I said "well you've agreed to make each student wash their hands after snack" and she said "well that's not infringing on their rights as that's a common hygenic practice that benefits everyone."

4. I don't know that this matters but: on the 504 form they filled out a chart stating what life system was affected by his disability and why he qualifies. I expected them to check the breathing, and ability to care for oneself. Instead they marked "learning/attendance." Does that matter? Or will his permanent record reflect a "learning disabilty?" Is this just semantics or is it important to change that to what I stated above? BTW I went over theforms with the special ed teacher after the meeting (the others had started their next appointment) and I asked about the "learning" and she tried to tell me that to get 504 protection leraning MUST be affected. I disagreed and told her the difference between IDEA and 504 and that 504 is about ACCESS ot learning due to a disability, is not about a leraning disability per se. She just kept repeating his learning had to be affected or he wasn't eligible. Is that important to address at my next meeting?

I asked that all food being brought in be storebought and labeled...again "We can't MAKE a child bring in something from the store vs something from home."

The ultimate idiotic moment of the day was when field trips were discussed. Again his teacher HAS agreed to carry the epi pen and be trained in how to administer it, but I broached the subject of "what if she chose not to?" I asked "does the Nurse go on the field trip?" (thinking if they said yes I could then ask what happens to kids left at school if nurse is only one trained) and the nurse said "well the epi-pens ALWAYS go with the students on field trips" at which point the bad cop jumped in and said "IF the teacher agrees to carry it and administer it." And then I said "and if the teacher chooses not to?" She replied "well it would then be at your discretion as to whether or not your child attends the field trip....you could keep him home or we could provide other "educational activities" for him to do that day." The teacher jumped in and said "but you said you'd be on the field trips right and if not you already konw I've agreed to carry and administer the epi-pen."

The teacher was very accommodating and really tried to diffuse the situation at times by volunteering to do this or that.

The school psych was very unprofessional but what do you say "quit whispering and giggling please?" Lol I was really at a loss because I was just appalled at her unprofessional behavior.

I feel the epi-pen being with him at all times is something I will NOT budge on and I told them that. They tabled that issue and will "make some calls" whatever that means.

We agreed to meet again this summer although the teacher will not be there. The 9 bullets they have on the 504 plan include things like making the studnets wash after eating, placemats on the tables, washing the tables after snack, sending a letter out REQUESTING parents not send in peanut products prior to school starting, etc...

So I am in heavy research mode. So can they say they don't have to "make" any teacher epi-pen trained?
Can the 504 plan be as specific as I want it to be or can they make it be "between me and the teacher" as to the specifics?
Was she accurate in stating that were we to move the other school can't be bound by this "legal document" and so THAT'S why they don't get specific?
Is the 504 truly limited to things only directly affecting Matthew? Can they side step it by stating they can't make changes that affect the other students (such as making it peanut free classroom)?
They said they can't MAKE everything be store bought and labled...true?

How do I answer those statements? And how do I handle the unprofessional, rude school psychologist? I will not let her behave that way again...any suggestions?

I really feel like I failed Matthew today. You ask me about reasonable accomodations, and Letter to Zirkel, and the AAAAI's position statement on epi-pen storage, and whether or not he's eligible for 504, and, etc...and I can tell you how it is. Tell me something like "we cna't make the teachers epi pen train" and I dind't know what to say. I was unprepared and feel quite inept at this point. I didn't reference my documents, I didn't direct them to the doctor's letter enough...they kinda glossed over much of it and I just didn't handle it well.

Lesson learned. So can you all direct me to references, or give an idea of how to address these issues? We're set to meet again this summer before school starts...in the meantime I might drop off some reading material, or write a letter, or get his doctor more involved, or..etc... anything I can do to help the situation.

Thanks for reading so far. All help is appreciated.

Maddy

[This message has been edited by MattsMommy (edited May 31, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by MattsMommy (edited May 31, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 7:04am
choguy's picture
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Joined: 02/20/2003 - 09:00

Mattsmommy,
There are many here who are very well versed in 504's and I am sure they will help you more than I. However, I do have a few tips after dealing with this with my son this past school year. Check your state's (or in your case D.C.'s) laws about Epipen training. In my state (NY), all certified teachers must be trained in Epipen use. Your "bad cop" may not be aware of a similar law or may not want to admit they haven't been following the law.
As I understand it, they can NOT force others to bring in only labeled, prepackaged foods. However, your son's plan could include some language about an adult checking the children's lunches for allergens and providing an allergen-free area for your son to eat at. There could be very specific language as to how this allergen-free table is to be handled and cleaned. I would also include language that children should be encouraged to bring safe lunches and eat with your son (not really enforcable but anyhting helps).
I know of no reason why a classroom can not be peanut-free especially if the children eat in the cafe.
I believe 504 plans are non-transferable as many of the conditions and terms depend on the physical characteristics of the building, the staff, etc. However, once you have one it provides a good framework to begin another.
Epipens in the classroom HAVE been an issue for us. If you push hard enough they may allow it. Suggest a locked medical box that the teacher has easy access to. That may help alleviate any perceived safety issues on their part. Of course, this all comes back to teacher training.
I don't know what your work situation is, but our agreement with the school is that my wife or I must attend every field trip my son goes on. They actually appreciate it because it gurantees them a chaperone. If we can not attend (has not happened as yet) the school nurse must go in our place and the school has to bring in a sub-nurse for the time she is gone.
My situation has been good. We have the general framework of a 504 but it is not official. That will change next year as there have been a few slips here and there (nothing serious but easily avoidable if they followed our jointly agreed upon action plan to the letter).
These are just a few things that I know are possible. I get the feeling most districts try to avoid these 504's because they know it could cost them if they don't follow it perfectly. Don't give up, let them know how other schools cope - it can be done. When all else fails, don't hesitate to go way over the head of the psych - straight to the district superintendent.
Best of luck and keep your head up! You'll get lots of help here.
Troy
P.S. It is true, 504's are limited to what affects your son. Your son IS affected by other children eating peanuts around him. It affects his breathing, his ability to care for himself, and all of that other legal jargon!
[This message has been edited by choguy (edited May 31, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 7:57am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

[b]So can they say they don't have to "make" any teacher epi-pen trained? [/b]
We are in California, and it is in the State Education Code that the teachers can be trained on Epipen, but it is VOLUNTARY. We are in the same boat as you, only my DD's teacher refused the training.
[b]Can the 504 plan be as specific as I want it to be or can they make it be "between me and the teacher" as to the specifics? [/b]
As far as I know, it can be very specific. Certainly posting a sign on the classroom door could be included as an accommodation.
[b]Was she accurate in stating that were we to move the other school can't be bound by this "legal document" and so THAT'S why they don't get specific?[/b]
This is pure BS. Yes, it's a legal document. However, it is not intended to be used word for word if your son changed schools. Changing schools triggers a reevaluation to iron out details like that.
[b]Is the 504 truly limited to things only directly affecting Matthew? Can they side step it by stating they can't make changes that affect the other students (such as making it peanut free classroom)? [/b]
They most certainly can make rules about students' behavior, food, dress code, etc. This is no different. Your son has a right to FAPE. The other students do not have a right to PB.
[b]They said they can't MAKE everything be store bought and labled...true?[/b]
Baloney.
------------------
Mom to 7 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 3 1/2 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.
[This message has been edited by Momcat (edited May 31, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 8:01am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

About "learning" being affected: I think they are saying your son's learning would be affected if he could not attend school, which he could not if there were no safety measures in place. So I don't think you necessarily have to get them to change that. If it makes them happy to say "learning" is affected, ok then. That said, you are right. Learning is not the only major life activity.
About field trips: Here in CA a student cannot be excluded from a field trip because of a disability. That means that if you are not able to accompany him on the field trip, the school would have to come up with a trained adult to go along on the trip.
Cathy

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 8:01am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

As the poster above said there is lots of good 504 info on this site - I'm not an expert, however I wanted to support you!
IMO, the epi pen should never be locked - in the office or the classroom. What if the classroom teacher is ill, or goes out to lunch and has her car break down, her child get sick etc... and is gone with her keys.
Sometimes the school is afraid of the liablity if the student injects the Epi improperly - like on a dare or in a school yard fight etc... That actually happened at dd's school, a few years before she started there, and they stopped the students, even middle schoolers, from carrying their own meds. Now it is the state law they have to allow it - however you may need to sign something freeing the school of liablity. If you look at the new IL legislation (I know you live somewhere else - but this is typical) the MommaBear recently posted you'll see one example.
Also, I did get my school to show the Dey EpiPen training video to all of the teachers and teaching assistants. It is REALLY short (not 101 about food allergies or anything, just a clinical how to use the pen) and I provided some FAAN publications too for extra info. At first they were relectant to show it to the whole staff, but when they saw how short it was they agreed and even ordered their own copy - Dey sends it to schools for free.
On the positive side, the teacher sounds super!

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 8:19am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

One way to make sure the epipen is always with your son is to have him wear it. I'm not sure about DC, but in CA it is part of the state ed code that students can carry epipen on their person.
Cathy

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 10:13am
Gwen 5's picture
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Joined: 01/24/2003 - 09:00

Please look up all NUTTERNOMORES posts in this section-
His tips and insights are invaluable-
Just so you know what is possible-
At my dd's school- EVERY single staff member at school is trained with the Epi pen- this is a NO brainer- the school nurse gives a class every year about signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and when and how to administer. I can't believe they would try to say they will not train staff- I would raise more of a stink-
Maybe you need to elevate and go to the Superintendant.
My dd has a fanny pack that has 2 Epi's, Benadryl and her inhaler. It stays IN her classroom and goes with her anywhere she goes on campus-
I would get as knowledgable as you can and decide what are your sticking points and let them know you will accept nothing less.
I beleive you can find several 504 plans posted here.
Let me know if you want any thing specific-
I would like to help any way I can.

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 10:20am
MattsMommy's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Thanks for all the replies. Just a couple of things to clarify.
1. State law in Maryland is they cna only carry it on their person if they can demonstrate the ability to self-inject. He turns 5 in a week...I'm not comfortable leaving it up to him. kwim?
2. The unprofessional behavior from the psychologist..I didn't clarify that. It was so bad I do want to explain. Throughout the meeting, she literally held up a paper (to block my view) and would whisper with the vp as she typed. Occasionally they would giggle, whisper some more, and then ask what they'd missed as they didn't hear. It was as if she was 10. So the 10 yr old ran the meeting...condescendingly telling me why they can't make Mary leave the pb at home and why I can't make the sign on the door part of the 504 plan itself. Why the heck do I have a 504 plan if the teacher and I are just going to iron out details later??
Most of all, thanks for the replies so far. We had a soccer team picnic tonight and we just returned home. Today's meeting is definitely on my mind...I want to shake them. Since I can't, I need to at least formulate a plan and start gathering more info, or go to the district level instead of waiting til Aug for our next meeting. Any thoughts on that are welcome.
Thanks again for the replies...nice to have people understand all this jargon w/o explaining it! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Maddy

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 10:24am
MattsMommy's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Gwen 5:
[b]
I beleive you can find several 504 plans posted here.
Let me know if you want any thing specific-
I would like to help any way I can.[/b]
Thanks Gwen! I need all the help I can get. I actually usd Nuttermore's plan he implemented for his son in kindergarten. I got it out and started to pass it around and they told me they didn't need it...had the forms on their cmputer fill out as they went, etc... I guess I'm stuck on how do you make them LOOK at the plan I wanted. kwim? I never anticipated THESE problems...ugh.

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 11:43am
luvmyboys's picture
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Joined: 05/25/2006 - 09:00

MattsMommy, Just wanted to say I am so sorry how rough it was. We live in PA and perhaps it is a difference in law, but they most certainly can force all the teachers including specials and subs to be trained here because they do!...both in our new school and where my SIL teaches across town. PA law also does not allow for epipen wearing but leaves it up to the school I believe and DS will be wearing it when he goes to kindergarten next year. It sounds like you need an advocate because this is getting very stressful for you. Try this link...not sure if it will help but maybe you can find some support?
[url="http://www.childadvocate.net/faq.htm"]http://www.childadvocate.net/faq.htm[/url]
Best wishes,
Luvmyboys

Posted on: Wed, 05/31/2006 - 12:26pm
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
4. I don't know that this matters but: on the 504 form they filled out a chart stating what life system was affected by his disability and why he qualifies. I expected them to check the breathing, and ability to care for oneself. Instead they marked "learning/attendance." [b]Does that matter? [/b]Or will his permanent record reflect a "learning disabilty?" Is this just semantics or is it important to change that to what I stated above? BTW I went over theforms with the special ed teacher after the meeting (the others had started their next appointment) and I asked about the "learning" and she tried to tell me that to get 504 protection leraning MUST be affected. I disagreed and told her the difference between IDEA and 504 and that 504 is about ACCESS ot learning due to a disability, is not about a leraning disability per se. She just kept repeating his learning had to be affected or he wasn't eligible. Is that important to address at my next meeting?
I think it does matter, and yes I think you should address this.
If he qualified by meeting the "learning/attendance" criteria, could they similarly [i]disqualify [/i]him by using the same criteria? What if they unilaterally decide to reevaluate after a year or two? Could they use his report cards and attendance records as part of the 'evaluation data' to reevlaute? If your son's report cards and attendance records are good, could they attempt to disqualify your son?
I don't mean to alarm you, but these administrators obviously don't now what they're doing and you can't rely on them to do this properly. If it were me, I'd want this corrected. Your allergist's letter should have addressed this clearly for them to use 'breathing' and 'caring for self'. I think it would be desirable for 'learning' to be included also, but from w hat I've seen administrators would then evaluate under IDEA.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited May 31, 2006).]

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