school not responding to 504 request

Posted on: Thu, 06/10/2004 - 11:24am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Hi everyone,

My daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall and I have been talking with school officials since January preparing them for her arrival - in addition to her peanut allergy, she has a severe almond and moderate sesame allergy. The director of Special Education has been pushing a emergency medical plan and nothing else. I spoke with the nurse briefly at registration and she seemed genuinely interested in helping, the principal seemed clueless - when I mentioned a meeting she seemed very uncomfortable and seemed to avoid the topic.

I have demanded paperwork on the district's medical policies and emergency procedure - like pulling teeth. Had I not been a print journalist who covered education I'm certain the school district would have had their way with me. Since I'm adamant in my demands and won't let them have their way - mention things like the freedom of information action - I'm being met with some opposition.

I mentioned that I wanted a 504 plan in place over the phone and got nowhere. Basically I was told call me when you have a doctor's letter. My daughter's pediatrician is awesome. He wrote us a letter stating she needs a peanut/almond/sesame-free environment, her epi-pen, Benadryl and Albuterol (for asthma) on or very near her person at all times..... Needless to say, once I had the letter in my hand I immediately called back and nobody is returning my phone call. Just last week I sent the director of special education a letter requesting the 504 plan via regular mail and an additional copy via certified mail. I received the delivery receipt so I know the letter was received. I'm at a loss. I'm no sure how to proceed.

Here is a copy of the letter I wrote the special education director. Did I leave something out?

Dear XXXX

We spoke this past January about our daughter xxxxx, who will be attending kindergarten at xxxx Elementary School this coming school year. As I mentioned to you during our conversations, xxxxx has a life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to peanuts. In fact it is so severe her allergy is not limited to ingestion, but is also airborne and a contact allergy. I had also mentioned xxxxx suffers from asthma, which is allergy and viral-induced, and has a tree nut allergy and sesame allergy.

Due to the severity of the allergy, it is imperative we have a medical plan in place prior to the school year, and inform/educate her teacher about xxxxx

Posted on: Thu, 06/10/2004 - 10:50pm
momma2boys's picture
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Joined: 03/14/2003 - 09:00

meadow, it sounds as if you have done everything you need to do. Its hard to say from school district to district, how they do things, but I know here, once you submit a letter requesting a 504 they have 30 days to schedule a meeting.
Its so tough in these situations because you don't want to get into it with anyone because these are the people who will keep your child safe. You really want to have a good working relationship with them.
Maybe call the special ed office anonymously and ask them the policy on how quickly they are required to schedule a meeting?

Posted on: Fri, 06/11/2004 - 12:04am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Thanks so much for letting me know about the 30 days to respond. I had no idea. I suppose I'm an instant gratification person.
I'm going to pass on the anonymous call. We're a part of a very small school district. They will know it's me calling. If I don't hear from them by next month then I will start to worry.
This is just so frustrating. At first the special education director insinuated I was being overly protective. I cleared that up, then she said she needed what I told her in the form of a doctor's note - I think she thought I wouldn't be able to get our pediatrician to verify what I had been saying.
It has been a struggle to remain personable, but I have forced myself because like you mentioned they will be in charge of our daughter's safety. It's extrememly difficult to bite your tongue especially when you know they are giving you the run-around. On the two occassions I said something, I tried to do it as nicely as possible.
The first time they tried not giving me a copy of the emergency procedure plan and medications dispensing procedure saying they worked with everyone individually. For weeks I struggled to get copies, until I broke down and called the woman and told her I'd be by that afternoon to pick the copies. She tried again to say those procedure were done on an individual basis and I asked who adopted the policy and she said the board and I told her the under the Freedom of Information Act I'm obligated to take a peek. I asked her to forward me a bill for copying expenses and she became very quiet then replied with "I'll have my assistant leave the copies at the front desk...."
The second time she was when she was insistant on not having a 504 just an individualized education plan because she didn't feel anything else was necessary. I asked her if I might be so bold as to as what sort of doctor she was, she is referred to as doctor XXXX because she has a Ph.D. She told me and it wasn't medical. I then told her I appreciated her opinion, but felt a medical doctor would best make that decision.
Both times I wanted to tell this woman what I thought, but have held back. She has treated me with such a condescending attitude I've gotten off the phone worked up and extremely frustrated. I don't understand how anyone gets anything they need medically in my school district. Our daughter's Godmother is the superintendent of a school district out-of-state and told me to expect much resistance but this is insane. Months have gone by since my initial phone call and I've made numerous other calls to various personnel. Avoidance seems to be a big tactic.
The principal's avoidance worries me the most. This is the person who will have the most say (I'm guessing) and she seems to be the least interested. When giving me a tour of the school during K registration she kept telling me about all the safety measures in place so I thought 'great here's my chance to bring it up'. I told her I was thrilled the school was so enthusiastic about safety and mentioned our situation and asked her for a meeting with everyone to deal with our daughter's situation. She went silent and avoided any more mention of safety and disappeared after the meeting. I haven't been able to get a hold of her since.
In my opinion, our school district until special requests are made. It has been very frustrating, but as my husband keeps mentioning, someone else will benefit from our persistance and efforts. This has been the only thing keeping me going. Homeschooling is not looking so bad!!
Thanks for listening and sorry for ranting.

Posted on: Fri, 06/11/2004 - 1:02pm
Gwen 5's picture
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Joined: 01/24/2003 - 09:00

Meadow,
So sorry to hear what you are going through! It is amazing that we all really go through the same issues at our different schools.
It is good that you are trying to start early- that is what you should do. Today was my dd last day of kindergarten and i have to say- everyone has been in a state of frenzy and disarray these past 2 weeks- I am hearing that this is very common.
I would search and study all the media and school threads on these boards. So many of us have had this same struggle- You are entitled to a 504 plan that is individualized to your daughters needs.
Have you spoken to the superintendent?
I don't have much time now, but really look at all the posts, especially from Nutternomore and also you can look at [url="http://www.allergysupport.org."]www.allergysupport.org.[/url]
Keep pursuing- it should get easier and these boards seem quiet right now with the end of school etc, but hopefully people will respond more.
Again, I really encourage you to look at all the posts under the school section.
Take care [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Sun, 06/13/2004 - 12:27pm
lalow's picture
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Joined: 03/24/2004 - 09:00

I think you may be talking to the wrong people. The special ed director in most districts would not be responsible for 504 plans as it is a regular ed initiative. Is your daughter in special education as well? If not, call the superintendent and also the schools psychologist. If you dont get anywhere start looking into finding a parent advocate in your area. If you start mentioning parent advocates, and due process as nicely as you want to they will be much more willing to move on this.
It does not make since to write an IEP for a situation like this unless your daughter also has special education concerns. An IEP is a much more inclusive document.
------------------
Lalow
James 2yrs NKA
Ben 17 months PA,MA,possible EA, and SA

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