Requested 504 mtg....ideas on what to expect?

Posted on: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:08am
MattsMommy's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Hello everyone!

First thanks for all of the valuable advice you've shared so far. I sent a certifed letter to the 504 coordinator (it arrived today) requesting an eligibility meeting.

For the actual meeting, what should I expect. Is this where I "prove" to them that he is 504 eligible? Do I need to have handouts and be prepared to convince them? Will I be making a speech of sorts? If it matters, they do not seem very knowledgable or willing to help...and that was BEFORE they recieved notice of our intent to seek a 504! lol

Lastly, should I come prepared with a 504 plan I'd like to implement? Or will that first meeting ONLY be for determining eligibility?

Oh (guess that wasn't last), how much do I show them ahead of time? I mean, should I forward my doctor's letter to them ahead of time or does that just give them time to refute it or form answers to it by the day of the eligibility meeting?

I almost don't want to show my cards too soon, yet if by chance they are going to accomodate us, the more info they have (and the more convinced they are) ahead of time, then the shorter and easier that first meeting right?

I'm just not sure what to expect now. I want to be FULLY prepared as the 504 coordinator's words about a peanut free classroom were "but I can't ask little Mary to not eat her peanut butter and cracker snack if that happens to be her favorite snack" and she added "Not that your son's life doesn't have value, but I can't dictate the other children's snacks." That gives you an idea of what we're dealing with. I have a bad feeling this could get nasty.

I have a million questions but I'll hold off for tonight. Thanks in advance!

Posted on: Tue, 04/25/2006 - 1:00pm
MattsMommy's picture
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bump...hoping for some idea of what that meeting will be like?
Thanks in advance!

Posted on: Tue, 04/25/2006 - 4:14pm
Nutternomore's picture
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Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

MattsMommy,
Good for you for trying to be prepared, and trying to anticipate possible options.
I'm really short on time (extreme workload due to a software implementation is keeping me w/limited time for the boards for months now), but a couple of really quick thoughts:
1) here's a post on the basics of the process and reference to some key documents
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html[/url]
2) if you haven't yet read my personal saga on getting my child a 504 for Kindergarten a few years ago (similiar to your in resistance from school personnel), check out:
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001046.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001046.html[/url]
2) I found some other articles a year later which were helpful re:education -
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001492.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001492.html[/url]
Given the history of conversations you've shared and clear signs of resistance, I think you should definitely consider some sort of advance packet to begin the education process prior to the 504 eligibility meeting. I would definitely include the doctor's letter with reference to test results and reaction history. You might want to consider posting your doctor's letter for us to review; a weak doctor's letter will completely undermine your case and often leads to denial of eligibility; it is one of the biggest keys to this process! The doctor's letter has to demonstrate how DS's allergy limits a major life activity. Look for GailW's wonderful doctor's letter as the ideal model.
I would also stop talking to them about this subject until the 504 meeting. You're going to be shifting into documentation mode, and be handling everything from a business perspective; audit trails are key, especially if there is any possibility of resistance, footdragging or other favorite school tactics...
You should have begun to work through potential 504 accommodations, but as you've probably seen written in other threads, stay focused right now on obtaining the 504 designation. Think of it as two steps - (1) get "504-eligible" (get the designation) first, then (2) work through the accommodations. Don't let the school play bait/switch w/you or get you to reveal your hand re:accommodations so they can ponder whether that should be a basis for giving you a 504...it's totally inappropriate. When you do get to the point where you have eligibility in hand, then you want to be able to focus hard on potential accommodations. There are many good 504's here, but you'll want to factor such things as your family's comfort zone, child's maturity level, reactive history, school's physical layout, degree of use of shared equipment, school's current degree of competence and support for FAK's, and so on....
Too bad they've chosen to be antagonistic already. It's a parent's dream to be welcomed w/open arms when making such a challenging transition w/your child. Some parents here have been lucky in that they could approach their school in a low key manner and the entire process is non-confrontational. In those cases, it's much easier to hold your cards close to the vest. The sad truth is that many others encounter resistance, and you do need to 'educate' the educators. My opinion is that sending a clear signal from the start that you mean business sets the tone re:your interactions.
This is a definitely a "dance". You have to go with hoping for the best, but being prepared for the worst.
Last bit of advice...read the heck out of the actual law...Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973. Learn all the key buzzwords and what they mean....you are seeking FAPE (free appropriate education) in a LRE (least restrictive environmnet) for your child. These are your child's civil rights under the law. Little Mary has no constitutional right to her peanut butter and cracker snack, but your DS has a legal right to be able to attend school safely.
Hope this helps...
[This message has been edited by Nutternomore (edited April 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 1:30am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]For the actual meeting, what should I expect. Is this where I "prove" to them that he is 504 eligible? Do I need to have handouts and be prepared to convince them? Will I be making a speech of sorts? If it matters, they do not seem very knowledgable or willing to help...and that was BEFORE they recieved notice of our intent to seek a 504! lol[/b]
No, you shouldn't have to 'prove' it to them, but don't be surprised if that's how the process unfolds. If that happens, try to turn it around and say that you already have proved it to them via your doctor letter and the OCR document on 'hidden disabilities'. The absolute best thing you can do is to be extremely familiar with the actual 504 law enough to be able to make references to specific sections. If ever they state something that doesn't seem quite right, don't hesitate to ask them, [i]"Can you show me where it says that?"[/i] and press them to point to the exact wording in the law that they are referencing. If they can't do that, just say that this is not your understanding, and that they will need to explain to you by using the text law why they are making such an assertion. MAKE THEM PROVE THEIR (each and every) ASSERTIONS TO YOU by holding them accountable to the actual law itself.
Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]Lastly, should I come prepared with a 504 plan I'd like to implement? Or will that first meeting ONLY be for determining eligibility? [/b]
Yes, but I wouldn't review it with them at the eligibility meeting until you have a signed document in your hand stating that the Team has deemed your child eligible. If it were me, I'd insist on it before I'd even talk about a single accommodation. Eligibility first. Get the eligibility. Then present them with your plan, maybe even reschedule a meeting if you feel rushed or if the process doesn't feel right.
Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]Oh (guess that wasn't last), how much do I show them ahead of time? I mean, should I forward my doctor's letter to them ahead of time or does that just give them time to refute it or form answers to it by the day of the eligibility meeting?
I almost don't want to show my cards too soon, yet if by chance they are going to accomodate us, the more info they have (and the more convinced they are) ahead of time, then the shorter and easier that first meeting right?[/b]
Have you posted your doctor's letter? I'd like to see it if you're willing to share it. Also, what testing has your child had?
Do you know who will be at your meeting? If not, ask the 504-C for a list of those she's appointed. You might want to request additions the committee.
When you know you will be on the Eligibility Team, you might want to go ahead and write to them directly instead of going [i]through [/i]the 504-C. You could write a cover letter and provide them copies of specific documents ahead of time for their review. (e.g. the 'hidden disability' doc from OCR, the NASN position statement, the US Dept of Ag handbook, etc.) Personally, I like the idea of making your 'case' directly to the Team members.
Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]I'm just not sure what to expect now. I want to be FULLY prepared as the 504 coordinator's words about a peanut free classroom were "but I can't ask little Mary to not eat her peanut butter and cracker snack if that happens to be her favorite snack" and she added "Not that your son's life doesn't have value, but I can't dictate the other children's snacks." [/b]
Why not? Of course she can. . . . She can even determine that there will be no snacks whatsoever. They regulate food all the time. I mean, can a child simply pull out food in the classroom [i]anytime [/i]the child wants and just begin eating? or how about a child eating during library? or PE? Of course not. They regulate food by having a designated time for snacks, right? That's just one example of how they already currently regulate food . . .
Questions:
1. When is your meeting?
2. Have you requested/obtained the SD's paperwork regarding the 504 process? I think you should do this asap if you haven't yet . . .
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited April 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 2:27am
Momcat's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

Make sure you have your arguments clear in your own mind. In order to be eligible, your child must have the following:
"A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity."
[b]Physical or mental impairment[/b] means (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, genito‑urinary; 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.
Clearly, peanut allergy is a physical impairment. Your doctor's letter should clearly support this argument.
[b]Substantially limits[/b] means Significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the
condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity.
[b]Major life activities[/b] means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
During a severe reaction, all of these, most notably [b]breathing[/b], would be substantially limited. But most importantly, a young child with a life-threatening peanut allergy is substantially limited in his ability to [b]care for himself[/b]. This is because a young child lacks the skills and judgement necessary to protect himself from exposure to a potentially deadly allergen in the school environment. He would need emergency assistance in the event of a reaction. Therefore, this child must be surpervised at all times by specially trained adults and is not able to care for himself to the same degree or under the same conditions as his peers.
Your child has a right to safe access to school. This means that he has a right to an expectation of safety at school equal to that enjoyed by his peers.
Good luck! Knock 'em dead with logic, the law is on your side.
Cathy
------------------
Mom to 6 1/2 yr old PA/TNA daughter and 3 yr old son who is allergic to eggs.
[This message has been edited by Momcat (edited April 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 4:17am
MattsMommy's picture
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Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Wow is all I can say.
No time to reply like I want to right now, but just a quick note to say thank you..really. My dh is in Europe, my kitchen is getting new counterops (so appointments w/ workman), my newborn is under the weather, my FIL arrives in 4 days for a week, my allergies are going crazy, and I'm a BIT overwhelmed right now. Your kind words and encouragement and GREAT advice prop me up a bit and I needed it.
Will answer all questions later. Thanks everybody!!!!
Maddy
[This message has been edited by MattsMommy (edited April 26, 2006).]

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 7:03am
MattsMommy's picture
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Quote:Originally posted by Gail W:
[b]Questions:
1. When is your meeting?
2. Have you requested/obtained the SD's paperwork regarding the 504 process? I think you should do this asap if you haven't yet . . .
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited April 26, 2006).][/b]
1. She recieved my request last Tues (week ago) asking that we have a meeting by the 5th of May and to be notified of the meeting by this Friday the 28th. I also asked for the 504 procedural manual be forwarded to me, as well as a list of who will be attending the meeting. I'd not received any reply until about 5 min ago.
She called at 4:30 (can't get past the answering machine after 4pm btw) to say she will be in meetings "most of the day" tomorrow and then will be out of town until next Wednesday. She also said the "team" meets once a week and was already booked for the week I requested as they need a min of 3 weeks notice. She further stated (and ehre's the interesting part) she had some other "options" she'd like to discuss with me. She said "don't worry, we'll meet before the end of the year."
So, I am getting a meeting, but not for a while? Her "options" sounded like they woudl be in lieu of a 504? I don't know..but calling when she did knowing she was going to be unavailable tells me I've just encountered my first stalling tactic! Ugh!
So, no 504 procedures like I requested, no list of participants, and no meeting when I asked for it, and oh yeah, she's leaving for a week. Any suggestions? I figure I'll call tomorrow bright and early to see if I can catch her before she leaves town. I could at least ask again for th emanual and get on the schedule for a meeting. I'm not too interested in her "other options" frankly. I do want to docutment everything..may be a dumb question but is it "safe" to talk toher on the phone tomorrow IF I actually reach her?
Guess that sorta answers your number 2 question. Nope, no copy of it yet although I've requested it.
Let's see, other questions asked, yes we've had Matthew tested via CapRAST. He ate peanut butter for the first time in July '02 and had an anaphylactic reaction. He is contact/digestion sensitive. His numbers put him in class IV initially, then went down to class III. I don't particularly want to tell them the numbers because they've alreayd tried to minimize it all. I know eh's still in danger and so in the letter from the doctor (I'll post it next) he just says he's extrememly sensitive to it, etc...
I can't remember other things anyone asked lol. I'll post the doctor's note we used. I actually based it on the one Ryan's Mom posted in another thread.
At this point, do I attempt to hunt her down tomorrow? Go over her head (found number for District level 504 person)? How do I get a meeting before the end of the year..and I mean, before the VERY end of the year?
Letter to follow. Thanks in advance!

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 7:09am
MattsMommy's picture
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Here si the letter from our doctor to the school:
April 7, 2006
Dear XXX School District Administrators, School Nurses, and Teachers,
This letter is in regards to Matthew S, DOB xxxxx. He will be entering kindergarten at XXXX Elementary in September 2006, and has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts. Matthew

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 7:34am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b] . . . she will be in meetings "most of the day" tomorrow and then will be out of town until next Wednesday. She also said the "team" meets once a week and was already booked for the week I requested as they need a min of 3 weeks notice. [/b]
Can you e-mail her tonight? and nicely state that you'd appreciate it if she would leave all the SD's forms related to 504 with someone before she leaves? Just say that since she's not available, that you will come by her office to pick them up when she's out of town. Can she please let you know from whom you can pick them up? the receptionist?
Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]She further stated (and ehre's the interesting part) she had some other "options" she'd like to discuss with me. She said "don't worry, we'll meet before the end of the year." . . . Her "options" sounded like they would be in lieu of a 504?[/b]
My bet is that she'll offer you an IHP. That's only fine if the IHP is an accommodation of the 504 plan. You want the 504 designation, and a 504 plan. In our 504 plan it states that the school nurse will administer an IHP.
Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b]So, no 504 procedures like I requested, no list of participants, and no meeting when I asked for it, and oh yeah, she's leaving for a week. Any suggestions? I figure I'll call tomorrow bright and early to see if I can catch her before she leaves town. I could at least ask again for the manual and get on the schedule for a meeting. I'm not too interested in her "other options" frankly. I do want to document everything..may be a dumb question but is it "safe" to talk her on the phone tomorrow IF I actually reach her?[/b]
It would be better if you can have it in writing via e-mail. Can yo do that tonight? There's no reason why she can't give you the list of the "Team" now, is there? Press for the list of Team members and their titles, for a scheduled meeting date, and that you will come by to pick up 504 information she leaves for you.
Quote:[b]At this point, do I attempt to hunt her down tomorrow? Go over her head (found number for District level 504 person)? How do I get a meeting before the end of the year..and I mean, before the VERY end of the year?
[/b]
Are you saying that your correspondence is with the 504 coordinator at the [i]school level[/i]? Hmmmm . . . What correspondence have you had with the School District's 504 Coordinator? I would be tempted to ask her in the e-mail tonight if you could pick up the School District's 504 materials from the District Coordinator while she's away. . .

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 8:00am
MattsMommy's picture
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Yes, the novice in me initiated all of this with the 504 C at the school level. She is the vice principal at the school he will attend.
I will see if I can find an email as that's the perfect solution. If not I suppose I'll call EARLY. Surely she won't have a meeting the minute she arrives. ;-)
Thanks for all of your input...it's invaluable and I really appreciate it. I'll work to get that info before she leaves/while she's gone. I have a feeling I'm going to have to push for the eligibility meeting to be scheduled relatively soon...she has the upper hand in that regard. I guess the district level 504C would be my next stop if she continues stalling?
Maddy

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 8:14am
Gail W's picture
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Quote:Originally posted by MattsMommy:
[b] . . .yes we've had Matthew tested via CapRAST. . . . His numbers put him in class IV initially...[/b]
The doctor's letter doesn't mention CAP-Rast testing or skin testing. Do you have a copy of the the original CAP Rast testing (class 4)? You might want to get a copy to have on hand in case you feel it would strengthen your position. . .
FYI, in our SD's 504 paperwork (the "Evaluation & Eligibility Determination" form) has a section that says:
______________________________________________________
[i]Type of Disability:[/i] Peanut allergy/Anaphylactic to nuts/ Asthma
[i]Diagnosing Physician or Psychologist:[/i] Dr. X
[i]Date of Diagnosis:[/i] Dx at 11 months; 1999 Cap-RAST; update report May 9, 2005.
[i]Please attach copy of any testing, medical report or psychological report that supports the diagnosis. Information must be current.[/i]
______________________________________________________
Mariah's letter from her allergist, her CAP-Rast lab report, and her SPT are attached to this form.
Just FYI. It will be very helpful to get all the district's forms so that you can begin to prepare to their format.
[This message has been edited by Gail W (edited April 26, 2006).]

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