This will be lengthy I am afraid, so please bare with me. I am at a crossroads so to speak. Every since my son's 504 was put into place at school, it has not been followed. It seems a constant battle to try and keep him safe. I will list some examples. Read on please.
#1 - in his classroom, teachers (including substitutes and adult assistants will: a) not distribute food items that lists peanuts or peanut derivatives on its label or says "may be processed with nut products" or similar statements to any child in the classrom. (Tell me if this does not mean that his class should be nut free by this statement.)
*Every class party so far this year they have allowed cupcakes and cookies that either contain nuts, walnut oil, or processed on the same machinery.
*Every time they allow cupcakes for birthdays they say the same thing "manufactured in a facility or processed on the same machinery". These include cupcakes from Walmart and Krogers. FYI Krogers cupcakes say they contain walnut pieces and walnut oil.
Not that he is going to be eating these cupcakes or cookies. I thought by not distributing these items, he would have a nut free room.
#2 Medication for treating my son's allergic reactions will be available/accessible to him in any school setting, including field trips. He will be accompanied by an individual knowledgeable about his allergy, health management plan and trained to adiminister his medication.
*A couple of weeks ago, he went on a field trip and when they got off the bus, the teacher left his epi-pen on the bus. The buses left before she could catch them and he was left without his epi-pen for 25 minutes. (So she does not seem to understand the statement above.) Thank god I was there to watch over him.
When I emailed the 504 cooridinator and the principal and expressed my concern, the principal seemed to be mad. She approached me in the hall and tried to talk about my request to attend all field trips in front of my son!
*The field trip before this one, they told me I could not go because there were not enough seats at the play(they lied). The cowed down to another parent who said her child was going to bring pb&j or else she would contact a lawyer and the local news. IF it rained, they would have to eat on the bus, with no place to wash their hands. I was afraid to let him go. They got mad because I took him myself and asked for an excused absence.
#3 In January his reading teacher handed out hershey's kisses to the whole class for a memory prompt to a story. She did tell them to take it home and eat it. She told my child he could not have it, of course he is not going to argue, he is 6. But she never took the time to give him a wrapped candy from his safe snack bag so that he could say that was his memory prompt. When I asked why she did this, she became offended. When I brought it to the principal's attention and asked why they could not have emailed me so I could come up with something, she said the school did not have time for that.
The teacher nor the principal will do anything to enforce the nut free classroom. The principal told me that I was being "nit picky". She also told me that life would never be fair for my child and I should accept that.
I tried emailing the 504 cooridinator again. I sent an article from AAFA stating how to keep it safe and fair for children with LTFA's in the classroom. She said thanks for sharing, but the school was looking out for all children.
Well I have talked with the OCR. The man I spoke with said I did have a complaint. He also told me that the school would not like me very much when I did this. He said that I should state on the complaint that he has a 504 and it is not being followed.
So my question to all of you is this: Should I go thru due process with the school or just file a complaint with the OCR? I feel like I am d**med if I do and d**med if I don't. I am constantly worrying about my child's safety. I dread taking him to school everyday. The teacher is supposedly a Christian, but she shows no compassion towards my son. They say they are washing their hands and they have all been trained in anaphylaxis and how to administer the epi. They say the plan is working basically because nothing has happened yet.
Every time I speak up, they get mad. I am literally sick to my stomach every time I think about it, which seems to be all the time. I cannot sleep. I just don't understand. I am almost to my breaking point. I am considering home schooling, but that does not seem fair to my child. What should I do? I need some advice. Please help me. What would you do? What do you think?
On Mar 15, 2008
This is a tough one, if you chose to go through with the OCR, things might get a lot tougher. But, if your child is any way was targeted that district would be in so much more trouble. The "adults" who would do such a thing are terrible and should not be working in a school. You can write letters to document the "violations" and send it to the Superintendent of the district if you feel you are not getting anywhere with the principal or teachers. Maybe trying to fix it within the school system first, following the chain of commands.
I can't believe a parent would threaten to bring in the news over their child not being allowed to bring a peanut butter sandwich on a trip. IGNORANT is all I can say.
You sound like you have a lot going on in your child's school and I hope it gets better for your child.
On Mar 15, 2008
[b]The man I spoke with said I did have a complaint. He also told me that the school would not like me very much when I did this.[/b]
Easy to say, but what exactly are we supposed to care more about? The school's feelings, or our child's safety?
[b]I am literally sick to my stomach every time I think about it, which seems to be all the time.[/b]
Totally understand. I'd be too. This is a sickening display of them thumbing their nose at you and your 504. No other way to look at it.
Document everything. [i]Everything[/i]. Times, dates, names, issues.
If this were me, and you had really not done much to address things in a way that makes it obvious that you [i]expect[/i] these violations to stop, I would call a meeting asap to address all concerns to date. See to it that all are in attendance. Give them the chance to come into compliance with your child's 504 plan and that you want this this pattern of violation to halt. Pass out a letter outlining things if you wish. A paper trail is a [i]wonderful[/i] thing. Do this with grace and a strong will. Stick to these facts. Follow-up with an email or snail mail listing all in attendance, what was covered, and reiterate the demand for the school to comply with the 504 plan.
Of course, others might tell you, do nothing and file a complaint right away. But I tend to want to see first, a well constructed and thought out attempt by you to bring them into compliance, and then , when they thumb their noses again...you have in your cards, a well-defined request for compliance and the ensuing violations by them. A perfect complaint. Hard for anyone to argue with that.
I know it's tough. It the toughest thing ever. But forget about being liked, forget about pleasing others. All of that is pretty much out the window. They are trampling on your son and his rights. Rights to which they gave him by convening and deeming him disabled and worthy of federal protection. And they are doing it (trampling) assuming you will do nothing when they violate those rights.
It's sickening when school's behave like this. And frankly, really, really sad. Are you up to task? They hope not, roll up your sleeves sister...you are in the right.
They are wrong, you are right.
They are wrong, you are right.
They are [i]wrong[/i], you are [i]right[/i].
On Mar 15, 2008
Oh, and I'm sorry it is so difficult.
On Mar 18, 2008
Krusty Krab, Thanks for listening and replying. I just wanted to say I value other mothers like yourself that have been there. I learn more everyday. When they first put him under the 504, I did not fully understand, but since I have researched and tried to educate myself. Just trying to make the school do what they signed up to do is the problem. He has a good plan. Just making them implement it.
"Document everything. Everything. Times, dates, names, issues."
I have from the beginning. Everything single conversation, phone call, and email, I have documented. I have hard copies and paper copies. I have a file organized by whom it was sent to. One good thing I am good at is organization. I am a bookkeeper. And I guess I knew somewhere down deep, that I needed to document things. I guess I knew that I needed to protect my child. I also learned from great people like you.
I sent an email to the 504 cooridinator. I listed everything that I put in my post. I listed dates and what happened. I wanted her to explain to me what line # 1 of his 504 stated and why it was not being followed. Of course no response yet.
"But I tend to want to see first, a well constructed and thought out attempt by you to bring them into compliance, and then , when they thumb their noses again...you have in your cards, a well-defined request for compliance and the ensuing violations by them. A perfect complaint. Hard for anyone to argue with that." I would like to try and do it the way you said 1st. Like you said above, attempt to let them comply. Then if they keep up with there current attitude, and do nothing and I have a request for compliance, then file with the OCR.
I have talked with a man at the OCR. I detailed everything to him as I did in my post. He said he did not see any other way than to file a complaint. He said he sees schools like this all the time. The administration as you said "thumbs their nose at you" then it trickles down to everyone, doing nothing.
I have started the fire, let's see now if they put it out. Thanks again for listening. You rock! By the way I have a new chant in the morning when I walk into school with my head hung high. "They are wrong, you are right.
They are wrong, you are right.
They are wrong, you are right."
On Jun 4, 2008
Krusty I have a question for you if you are out there. You responded to this post before and I REALLY value your opinion because you seem spot on and very educated in these matters. I know this is lengthy.
The last time when I posted you said I needed a well thought out plan to get the school to come into compliance. Well I tried and failed. I sent the email like I said to the 504 cooridinator. I listed violations and asked her what should be done. She said we would need to meet as a 504 team prior to the end of the school year. I listed in the email about food items that were entering his classroom and the classroom not being peanut free. I also in another email told her of his epi-pen being left on the bus.
She never responded to my email and when I emailed her back, she just responded whenever I was ready for another meeting to schedule one. In a previous conversation with the principal she had told me that my son's teachers did not have time to contact me every time there was something going on in the classroom and life would never be fair for my child and I should accept that. I knew then communication with this woman was never going to work. I tried to get an advocate from family voices and STEP to go with me to the meeting, but they were already tied up, but said they would go with me before the beginning of next school year.
I just decided to go on with the meeting on my own. When I requested one from the principal she said it would be better to wait till the beginning of next school year with his new teacher. She cc to the 504 cooridinator which seemed to be fine with this.
I felt like the principal and the 504 cooridinator were just not willing to deal with me. I really felt that meeting before the end of the year and discussing past problems to try and solve them for the future was the way to go. But apparently not. The principal had already told me in the same meeting that she said that life would never be fair for my son, asked me why I kept bringing up things that had already happened. I guess the principal feels like maybe not to cry over spilled milk. I don't know.
So the advocates told me to call the state and talk with them since I did not want to involve the OCR. I spoke with an DOE lawyer. I told him everything and he said he would call them and call me back. Of course it took him 2 weeks to call me back and school was out. He said that the principal sent him a copy of the plan and he thought it was a good one. I told him it was, but the teacher would never keep peanut/tree nut containing products out of his classroom. He said well you will have a new teacher next year and things should go better and if they do not call him back. He said that I should try and explain to the teacher what products need to be avoided. I told him I tried that and the school acted as if I was interfering. He asked who I talked with at he OCR and I told him. He said that was a good one to talk too. I asked him if the peanut free table was discrimination. He said yes, but thought I had requested it. I said I did request the table because the school would not remove peanut products from the menu. He said that I could ask the school to let my son go back to seating with his classmates. I asked him if I should ask for a meeting before the beginning of the school year and he said yes. He told me again that if things were not better to call him back and he would call the school again. He said this 6-7 times in our 21 minute conversation.
I am just lost. I feel like the school is avoiding me. I feel like they do not want to resolve anything. I feel like my attempt to get them to understand that his plan was not being followed failed. I should have pushed harder for a meeting, but felt like I needed someone there in my corner to get them to listen. I feel like they have labeled me the problem parent and are shutting me out.
What should I do? Should I just let things rest over the summer and request a meeting 2 weeks before school starts. Then maybe have another meeting with the new teacher. Should I point out to the principal and the 504 cooridinator again his plan was not followed and how so that they will understand how to fix it.
I wish that I could speak and write as eloquently as you do. I cannnot seem to talk without sounding angry and resentful. My heart is on my sleeve because there have been so many mistakes and I just do not trust them anymore. Fear has replaced trust. Because I cannot get them to sit down with me, that has made me feel that much more fear. I know I probably sound like a big dummy and that is why I am turning to here. No one else understands. Especially family and friends.
On Jun 4, 2008
I'm so sorry you are going through all of this. I noticed in your original post that you have considered homeschooling, and you were concerned that it wouldn't be fair to your child. I just wanted to share my experience with you. We just started homeschooling our 10 year old PA/TNA dd this year (4th grade). We made that decision after many frightening experiences at her former school, and I feel that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. We are all less stressed and happier.
My daughter is an only child, and I was concerned that she would become lonely and isolated, but that hasn't happened at all. We are very active in our homeschool association and many other activities, and she has made new friends. The other homeschooling families are very supportive of children with food allergies, and there are quite a few other children in the group that have the same condition.
I understand that this is not the right decision for every family, but it has been a great solution for us. Anyway, whatever you decide, I wish you the very best.
On Jun 5, 2008
I'm sorry mom of L&C that you are having a difficult time in just meeting with your school.
It does seem that you've tried to get a meeting, succeeded in having the 504 coordinator tell you to schedule one, only to have the principal thwart you. It could be that they put things off long enough to get this meeting moved until the next school year. It could be that indeed it innocuosly slipped through the cracks. But unfortunately, when a parent requests a meeting about the very safety of their child, and it doesn't get put on the schedule immediately, you have to wonder.
I think I would immediately use the fact that the [i]Dept of Education [/i]has suggested that a meeting occur before school begins and that the school needs to schedule a meeting within the next ___ weeks. That's a lovely thing for you to be able to honestly say. It may put a fire under them. Something like "In speaking with the Department of Education (add lawyer to this title if you're ready to show some cards), they suggest that there ought to exist an opportunity for a meeting with [u]Your child's name [/u] 504 team to discuss and evaluate the past and future implementation of his 504 plan. Once this meeting has taken place and the team is in understanding, I would like to meet again nearer to the start of the school year in order to bring a new teacher onto our team. Please let me know what time in the next X weeks is available for our first meeting..."
You have to learn how to be professional during meetings. Anger and resentment will only breed anger and resentment, even if that's what you feel on the inside. Maybe you can get a friend to come with you to serve as support as well as witness to anything they might say that is offensive. Write everything down.
If they pull the life is not fair card. You tell them that you are not focusing on the rest of his days, you and your child's 504 plan are focusing how to keep your child safe and included while under the care of X school.
[b]The last time when I posted you said I needed a well thought out plan to get the school to come into compliance. Well I tried and failed[/b]
You have NOT failed mom of L&C. Not at all. Don't let yourself think that, it serves you nothing but doubt and frustration. Concentrate on your next meeting, what you seek to accomplish---understanding of the mistakes of the past, how things will change, and the [i]expectation[/i] that it will.
On Jun 5, 2008
Part of me feels like they will only give you more of the same "I don't care attitude". If you should decide to go down the official complaint route, I believe one has 180 days from the act of discrimination in order to file a complaint. Search the Dept of Ed OCR site for the details needed to file a complaint if you're curious.
On Jun 8, 2008
Thank you Krusty so much for responding to my post. You too poodles! I just feel like they are trying to shut me out. I did not know where to turn because they had put doubt into me.
The 504 cooridinator is not very supportive. Once when I emailed her about needing her help in order to get the teacher to plan a menu safe for everybody, she reponded that the school was concerned about all the children's well being. She is new to this position and maybe she just does not understand 504's. I am not sure but I just knew it sucked.
His teacher was even worse. I cannot believe this woman called herself a Christian. A dog has more Christian compassion than she did. She always wanted to pull the card on me about all children have issues. I just wanted to scream at her and say yea but are these other children protected by the law.
I will take your advice and email using your approach about the meeting. I like the way you worded it. Like I said before, I do not speak as eloquently as you do. I guess I get frustated and just want to call them what they really are. I know you are right about the anger and resentment. I know you are right about being professional in these meetings. It is just so hard when they thumb there noses at me and do not take this as serious as it really is. If that makes any sense.
Thank you again for responding to my post. I really value your opinion and information. I understand about 504's and how they should be implemented. I understand about the rehabilation act and how it applies to our children. I just have a hard time conveying that message. And as you said when the principal thwarts my efforts just makes it worse. My son's doctors said that it may take a reaction to get them to wake up, I just do not want it to come to that.
Thank you again! You rock! This site is lucky to have you here!! I know I am. :)
On Jun 9, 2008
Mom of L&C, I may have some info I can email to you. I had similar problems and was able to partly resolve through OCR. my email is in my profile if you want to contact me.
On Jun 16, 2008
I'm sorry for your experiences. I had huge problems at my child's school and campaigned for two years on behalf of them to have my requests for their safety followed and 504 adhered to. No one took me seriously until I kept my child out of school until major issues were resolved. I notified someone at the superintendents office also. Issues were supposedly resolved. Some issues were resolved while others continued. For this reason and another I decided that homeschooling would be a better option for my child. I'm glad that I made the decision. I know not everyone has this choice. I didn't pursue resolution through the OCR (?) because I was told by them that it would make the problem worse.
I hadn't read through the posts before I responded. I read more and it is as though you and I experienced the same things. No attempt for my child to have a treat when ALL the other kids had one. The administration had every excuse. I told them from the beginning, call me if there are unexpected treats. NO ONE called so my child went without a lot of the time.
It's unfortunate that the uninformed administrators make the choice whether or not they will follow safe procedures, 504's or even considerarion for a child. I am so happy that my child will not be affected by the decisions of others at the public school since they are no longer there. It is a huge relief, and I thank God for this. There are a lot of options for homeschooling. I don't know if your state has the K12 program or not, but the supplies are paid for and materials are sent to you.