When a 504 is violated.... what do you do?

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 6:16am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

At the moment, we are involved in a mess with our school. I've been talking about it in another thread, and due to a question asked of me by Mommabear, I thought I'd bring the discussion here. For some back info though, we have experienced repeated violations at our son's school with respect to his 504. The last one occurred on Valentine's day. As in the past, we wrote an email to the Principal to inform her of it, with the intent to follow up with her in person to schedule a meeting, or figure out a resolution. What we have done in the past, when a violation occurs, is to keep our son home from school until we have made contact with & talked to the Principal. This time however, DH was informed, when he ran into her at the office, that we were being referred over to her boss of sorts. (who we think is an Ombudsman for the district). Anyway, within the bit of the conversation she and DH had, it came up that this person she is referring us to told her that it was illegal for us to keep our DS out of school. Our principal though did say to DH that we as parents had to do what we felt we needed to -- but now I am concerned about being turned over to someone who has that stance.

Clearly, due to the nature of the timing of all of this (the weekend), we are left to much speculation since this person we are referred to was supposed to contact us (and hasn't). We don't know the entirety of what has gone on with respect to communications between the teacher, the principal or this other person.

The main thing is though, at this moment for me, has to do with legal problems revolving around keeping our son home from school due to this latest violation. Hence the question posed to me by Mommabear:

[b]I mean, define "legally". You know, the "put up or shut up" part of it. How would anyone intend to differentiate between "legally" keeping your child home, and "illegally" keeping him home? [/b]

So, here is my attempt at trying to figure out what that could mean for us. That excused absences are defined as follows in code 48205:

[b]48205. (a) Notwithstanding Section 48200, a pupil shall be excused
from school when the absence is:
(1) Due to his or her illness.
(2) Due to quarantine under the direction of a county or city
health officer.
(3) For the purpose of having medical, dental, optometrical, or
chiropractic services rendered.
(4) For the purpose of attending the funeral services of a member
of his or her immediate family, so long as the absence is not more
than one day if the service is conducted in California and not more
than three days if the service is conducted outside California.
(5) For the purpose of jury duty in the manner provided for by
law.
(6) Due to the illness or medical appointment during school hours
of a child of whom the pupil is the custodial parent.
(7) For justifiable personal reasons, including, but not limited
to, an appearance in court, attendance at a funeral service,
observance of a holiday or ceremony of his or her religion,
attendance at religious retreats, or attendance at an employment
conference, when the pupil's absence has been requested in writing by
the parent or guardian and approved by the principal or a designated
representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the
governing board.
(8) For the purpose of serving as a member of a precinct board for
an election pursuant to Section 12302 of the Elections Code.
(b) A pupil absent from school under this section shall be allowed
to complete all assignments and tests missed during the absence that
can be reasonably provided and, upon satisfactory completion within
a reasonable period of time, shall be given full credit therefor.
The teacher of any class from which a pupil is absent shall determine
the tests and assignments shall be reasonably equivalent to, but not
necessarily identical to, the tests and assignments that the pupil
missed during the absence.
(c) For purposes of this section, attendance at religious retreats
shall not exceed four hours per semester.
(d) Absences pursuant to this section are deemed to be absences in
computing average daily attendance and shall not generate state
apportionment payments.
(e) "Immediate family," as used in this section, has the same
meaning as that set forth in Section 45194, except that references
therein to "employee" shall be deemed to be references to "pupil."[/b]

To that end, our keeping him home for a 504 violation isn't on that list. It would be rendered unexcused. And that would be considered truant, with the following implication:

[b]48260. (a) Any pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or
to compulsory continuation education who is absent from school
without valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or
absent for more than any 30-minute period during the schoolday
without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any
combination thereof, is a truant and shall be reported to the
attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school
district.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), it is the intent of the
Legislature that school districts shall not change the method of
attendance accounting provided for in existing law and shall not be
required to employ period-by-period attendance accounting.

48260.5. Upon a pupil's initial classification as a truant, the
school district shall notify the pupil's parent or guardian, by
first-class mail or other reasonable means, of the following:
(a) That the pupil is truant.
(b) That the parent or guardian is obligated to compel the
attendance of the pupil at school.
(c) That parents or guardians who fail to meet this obligation may
be guilty of an infraction and subject to prosecution pursuant to
Article 6 (commencing with Section 48290) of Chapter 2 of Part 27.
(d) That alternative educational programs are available in the
district.
(e) That the parent or guardian has the right to meet with
appropriate school personnel to discuss solutions to the pupil's
truancy.
(f) That the pupil may be subject to prosecution under Section
48264.
(g) That the pupil may be subject to suspension, restriction, or
delay of the pupil's driving privilege pursuant to Section 13202.7 of
the Vehicle Code.
(h) That it is recommended that the parent or guardian accompany
the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day.[/b]

We don't believe that our principal would turn us in as truant, but, we don't know what this other person will do. I can't find something that seems to give us the legal latitude to keep him home when his 504 is violated.

Any ideas? I mean, what do the rest of you do when your 504's are violated? Do you keep your children home? On this latest violation, it was the teacher handing out candy to be used on Valentine's day as a manipulative for math instruction that day. In his 504 food isn't to be used at all as a part of the classroom instruction material. Additionally, we weren't told that it was going to be used, we weren't even given the chance to look at packaging even -- I still don't know what brand the candy was.

Anyway, thank you for reading this far. DH and I are feeling pretty beat down by all of this, and I still am weepy about the entirety of the situation (cumulatively to this point). I don't know what we will do if we will have to also fight about truancy.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 6:49am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Gosh, gvmom, I had no idea! I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.
I'm also sorry I don't have an answer for you. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
I'm sure someone here will be of help. If by chance I find out anything helpful, I'll post it. Hang in there.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 7:07am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Perhaps under keeping your child out for "justifiable personal reasons" (48205 #7) you could write a letter to the principal and superintendent and give a copy to whoever this other person is, and state that until whatever violation of your 504 plan is resolved and a plan of correction developed, that your child is at an increased risk of a "life threatening" reaction.
Justifiable in my book for keeping a kid out of school. Perhaps your allergist could back you up with a medical excuse saying that until the 504 plan is followed as written in regards to food manipulatives in school, that it is not safe for your child to attend.
Let them take an endangerment issue to their lawyers to try to force you to put your child in school. They won't want the liability.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 7:08am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

What a bummer. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
I would [i]think[/i] that even if you [i]were[/i] turned in as 'truant' that you could appeal that to someone else...
and I can't imagine that you wouldn't win that appeal if you had your physician on-board w/r to a 504 issue that was "being resolved" during the absence.
Is this making sense? The reason I think this is that the law is decidedly vague on that matter for kids who have any sort of medically related reason for not attending school... even for long periods of time, such as recovery from a serious illness or to avoid illness during chemo, or even to avoid illness in an immunocompromised family member... the list goes on and on. Politically speaking, it would be AWFUL for the district to be publicly 'called out' for such a Draconian measure as calling such a child "truant."
I would think that requesting work from the teacher/principal should be sufficient to show "good faith" on your family's part...
and I cannot [i]FATHOM[/i] why any school would [i]want[/i] to demand that they assume liability for your child during school hours when such a clear PROBLEM RELATED TO HIS SAFETY exists, unresolved.
Seems to me you're doing them a HUGE legal favor, actually... reducing their liability until it is worked out.
These are all things I would gently point out-- first to the district, and later, if need be, to any reporter who would talk to me about my "truant" child.
{{hugs}} I am soooo sorry.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 7:16am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Dd`s 504 was violated quite a bit in 4th grade and I never kept her home. On days when I truly felt she was not safe in school, I stayed at school with her. That way she does not have to miss school. I feel that missing school is more disruptive to the child than the parent staying with the child. I felt that my responsibility was to do what was in dd`s best interest and I felt that it was in her best interest to be able to attend school. Each time the violation was what I considered to be significant, I wrote a letter (not email) to the principal and 504 coordinator. I don`t recall which person it was addressed to and which one I cc`d. I am not sure if I cc`d the teacher also. I started each letter with "Dear Mr./Mrs.______, I wanted to let you know that on ________ (date), dd`s 504 was violated." Then I would go into detail about the violation and how it affected her safety. When we had the worst one (another child eating a pb sandwich at dd`s desk in a food free room, while dd had to sit outside), I had the allergist write a letter also. I am sure they were thinking lawsuit. I found that they took the letters very seriously. I think a letter serves as more official documentation than an email. I think if you keep your ds home it clouds the picture. You want the whole focus to be on the allergies and not whether he is or is not truant.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 7:47am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I don't know if this will help, but...
[url="http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html"]http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html[/url]

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 7:58am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

Thanks guys. My brain is just so fried with all of this. I have times, like this morning, when I sat and went through the education code looking to see what might apply. Then I have times when I could just cry (and do) because of what this really boils down to -- junk food being more important that the life of my child. We already have to teach them about death at such a young age, but to then basically having to teach them that people would pick a cupcake or piece of candy rather than them can be just hard some days. And I really think that this last thing kind of devastated me because it was really big to us -- even though I'm sure it will be viewed as petty to everyone else involved.
And I do think on Tuesday we will request homework. I'm not quite sure how that will go. What the principal will do. Tuesday will be his third day out of school. And really, that is all we seem to be able to do -- and yes, also kind of with respect to liability for the school too, in addition to our own concern for not being given knowledge of food being handed over to our son.
About missing school & going with -- I have another child who is allergic to eggs & has horrible eczema. I think it could make for an good scene to be sitting there with him in the hallway (or classroom) with me, but again, I also have his safety to think about too. If I can't get them to do what is necessary for my son with a 504, I know I'll get nothing while I'm a visual & physical thorn with my other son.
And I do agree with the documentation. We have a combination of emails and letters. Usually the initial contact is via email, with a letter follow up to summarize whatever meeting or resolution we've all come to.
In the end, I'm just not sure why the principal did what she did. I really don't understand what is going on with the teacher. And, how am I supposed to trust that they'll do what they have to do in an emergency situation with my DS if they won't in any other situation? And how is it we end up being wrong for keeping our son out of a potentially dangerous situation, instead of the school being wrong for creating it?
To me, they don't deserve the $36 dollars for my son if they jeopardize his safety.
Part of all of this too, is that I'm feeling like DH & I are getting pushed toward a line that he and I have talked about with regard to how far we would take things. How much we would fight. Legally where we would go, what would cause us to do homebound instruction or homeschooling.
And again, it boils down to people choosing food over a child. I just don't get it.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 8:41am
chanda4's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

Since the allergist wrote the letter to instill the 504...could he/she also wirte a letter stating if the 504 is violated, you have medical resoning for keeping your child at home, until the violation is corrected?? Medical documentation might be a way around this.
What about that gal, Rhonda...would she have any suggestions about this type of situation? How about the ADA(would they have info stating the school could not consider a diabled child(with a 504) to be under these school excused-absent rules?? There has to be something to protect a diabled child from being given unexcused absences when it's clearly unsafe for them to attend....
I really have no experience, but I am just thinking out loud here...wish I knew more to help. Good luck, HUGS
------------------
Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 (beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma)
Jake-6 (peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-3 1/2 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig)
Savannah-1 (milk and egg)

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 10:16am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by gvmom:
[b]To me, they don't deserve the $36 dollars for my son if they jeopardize his safety.
[/b]
Now that you mention it, it did strike me from your other posts that maybe this was the bigger reason that you are keeping him home. After all, they are not going to get away with handing either one of your kids something they are allergic to with you sitting there in the classroom with them. When the teacher let another child eat a pb sandwich at dd`s desk, I cleaned the table myself during class. I am sure it was disruptive, but it really drove home the point that I was not trying to be difficult, I was that worried about dd`s safety. It would make same point if you inconvenienced yourself by sitting there all day with your other ds. In thinking about it, I`m sure they did not want me there, felt that they were under scrutiny, and made sure to fix things real fast (if for no other reason than to not have me sitting there---I am sure the teacher did not enjoy having me there!). It drives home the point that this is not about a boycott of school but rather about safety.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 10:40am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

[b]Now that you mention it, it did strike me from your other posts that maybe this was the bigger reason that you are keeping him home. After all, they are not going to get away with handing either one of your kids something they are allergic to with you sitting there in the classroom with them. When the teacher let another child eat a pb sandwich at dd`s desk, I cleaned the table myself during class. I am sure it was disruptive, but it really drove home the point that I was not trying to be difficult, I was that worried about dd`s safety. It would make same point if you inconvenienced yourself by sitting there all day with your other ds. In thinking about it, I`m sure they did not want me there, felt that they were under scrutiny, and made sure to fix things real fast (if for no other reason than to not have me sitting there---I am sure the teacher did not enjoy having me there!). It drives home the point that this is not about a boycott of school but rather about safety. [/b]
In our school, I know that if I sat there with my other son it would be viewed as my trying to be disruptive. It would be viewed as trying to make a statement. I know that it wouldn't be viewed as my concern for my son's safety. And really, they also would let me do it, willingly -- even see it as my right as a parent to sit in that classroom -- regardless of the food allergy. Then they could abdicate any responsibility. They would willingly let me in the classroom, let me clean up, let me be the one turning away homebaked goods at the classroom door, for as long as I wanted -- then they wouldn't be the bad guy. The teacher wouldn't have to be and neither would the principal. That is how it is viewed. Haven't I said my last name was "Killjoy"?
I absolutely put it in terms of that money because that is how everything is put to us. About everything at the school. All the events are about raising money. If your child is sick, we lose money. If your child wants to participate in certain PTA school events they have to raise a certain minimum amount of money. The hand is out constantly. And I do think that since they view my child as having a dollar sign in the middle of his forehead they could at least care if he dies in the classroom or not. I don't feel as though they care one wit about him except that he represents $36 dollars a day. That maybe they will be desperate enough to get that $36 dollars and stop allowing violations -- easily prevented ones -- from occurring.
And I will tell you that I am mad. For me it is about my son's life. I am mad at them that I spend every day worried about him dying at that school. We spent so much time working with that school. We have sacrificed so much -- and will continue to willingly for the safety of our children. And really we have no recourse, no safeguard if they violate the 504. To me, keeping my son home serves 2 purposes:
1. He is safe.
2. They don't benefit while they jeopardize his life.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2007 - 11:01am
mia1964's picture
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Joined: 02/17/2007 - 09:00

Go to [url="http://www.ed.gov"]www.ed.gov[/url] and look for the office of civil rights. Call them. They are amazingly helpful.

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