Knee deep in 504 - need a pep talk !

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 3:55am
JacksonsMom's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

First I need to thank everyone who has posted such excellent information here regarding their experiences with the 504 process. I am in the middle of it now and really feel like I've been thrown into a river with a boulder tied around my waist! It is so stressful and unfortunately I know nobody personally who has ever done it, so its hard to talk to friends or family.

Long and short story is I have done a ton of research and decided that for my DS starting Kindergarten in the fall a 504 is necessary. He is contact sensitive, class 6, and asthmatic. The thought of him spending every day in a building with hundreds of kids eating pb& j makes me shudder.

So far the school has been fantastic - the nurse is a mother of a PA son with asthma, they have other PA kids (although have never had anyone do a 504 for allergies), the nurses have already come up with a health plan that I think is great. We had a meeting yesterday to go over the health plan - I think they were hoping that we'd sign it and be on our way. But I pushed and did get an eligibility meeting scheduled for July. They are just really slow and uninformed about the whole 504 process.

Here's my question though - if the school already has a policy in place that covers most of what I'd put in my 504 , do I really need to keep pushing for it?
For instance: our school trains all staff on the epi pen (including bus drivers), they have a peanut free table in the cafeteria, they are willing to make DS classroom nut free (although they will still allow home baked goods for birthdays - grrr), all teachers carry walkie talkies everywhere-playground etc.

I am just so mentally drained from all of this. At the meeting yesterday *I* was the one quoting the law to them. They had no idea that an allergic, asthmatic kid qualified under 504. They said the only kid in the school with a 504 was one with a hearing problem and they provided him with some sort of hearing aide. And they can't understand how a 504 would help our son.
I handed them a stack of printouts and said - well read this - make yourself some copies - because the law states that he is entitled to a safe learning environment.
Once they looked at everything they agreed with me and went ahead with the paperwork. I was just so completely shocked at the lack of understanding.

I just reread this and realize it is all over the place. My mind is just maxed out right now. I am doubting that I've made the right decision to press on with this.

Sorry for the rant....

[This message has been edited by JacksonsMom (edited May 17, 2007).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:08am
seanmn's picture
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Joined: 10/01/2003 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by JacksonsMom:
[b]First I need to thank everyone who has posted such excellent information here regarding their experiences with the 504 process. I am in the middle of it now and really feel like I've been thrown into a river with a boulder tied around my waist! It is so stressful and unfortunately I know nobody personally who has ever done it, so its hard to talk to friends or family.
Long and short story is I have done a ton of research and decided that for my DS starting Kindergarten in the fall a 504 is necessary. He is contact sensitive, class 6, and asthmatic. The thought of him spending every day in a building with hundreds of kids eating pb& j makes me shudder.
So far the school has been fantastic - the nurse is a mother of a PA son with asthma, they have other PA kids (although have never had anyone do a 504 for allergies), the nurses have already come up with a health plan that I think is great. We had a meeting yesterday to go over the health plan - I think they were hoping that we'd sign it and be on our way. But I pushed and did get an eligibility meeting scheduled for July. They are just really slow and uninformed about the whole 504 process.
Here's my question though - if the school already has a policy in place that covers most of what I'd put in my 504 , do I really need to keep pushing for it?
For instance: our school trains all staff on the epi pen (including bus drivers), they have a peanut free table in the cafeteria, they are willing to make DS classroom nut free (although they will still allow home baked goods for birthdays - grrr), all teachers carry walkie talkies everywhere-playground etc.
I am just so mentally drained from all of this. At the meeting yesterday *I* was the one quoting the law to them. They had no idea that an allergic, asthmatic kid qualified under 504. They said the only kid in the school with a 504 was one with a hearing problem and they provided him with some sort of hearing aide. And they can't understand how a 504 would help our son.
I handed them a stack of printouts and said - well read this - make yourself some copies - because the law states that he is entitled to a safe learning environment.
Once they looked at everything they agreed with me and went ahead with the paperwork. I was just so completely shocked at the lack of understanding.
I just reread this and realize it is all over the place. My mind is just maxed out right now. I am doubting that I've made the right decision to press on with this and feel really alone in doing so. DH was physically present at the meeting, but honestly has no clue about any of this. I have tried to give him things to read, but it just doesn't happen. He is leaving all of this up to me. As usual.
Sorry for the rant....[/b]
I have a 504 for my DS. I would get one for your child as well because a general one just doesn't cover everything. Ryan's 504 is specific to his needs, no one elses. That way too, it can be changed when needed. I have a meeting twice a year with our principal and we go through the 504 and make updates as needed. I would get one, for sure, if you child is contact sensative. That may require a lot more caution such as in the lunch room.
Good Luck,
Jan

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:15am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

You can tell your dh my story. My dd is now in 6th grade. In elementary school, I picked the public school by interviewing the school nurse at several good public schools, decided which one was the most allergy aware, and got an permit to send my dd to a school that was not our local school. At our local school, it would have been a constant battle. Anyhow, so her elementary school was very allergy aware, the nurse offered me a 504, the nurse trained every single staff member on epi, dd got a food free room, etc. Fast forward to 4th grade. All in the same month, the nurse was suddenly transferred, the principal retired and we got a new one, and we got a new 504 coordinator. The 504 coordinator was a nice guy, but really just wanted to keep everyone happy. The new nurse (not new to the district, just new to the school), did not know how to use an epi correctly, did not feel any staff should be required to learn the epi, and didn`t know much about food allergies. [b]The 504 was what saved us.[/b] Without it, all those accomodations dd had would have been taken away. In addition, the same year, we had a teacher who did not take pa seriously at all and kept violating the 504. Each time she violated it, I wrote a letter to the school stating that dd`s 504 was violated and exactly what happened. Because she had a 504, the school knew they had to fix it or they would lose federal funding.
Fast forward to middle school. Dd is already eligible because elementary school said she is eligible. We just took the elementary school 504 and made some changes to make it more compatible with middle school.
Tell your dh, you just don`t know what the future holds. Without a 504, anything can happen. With a 504, your ds is protected. All kids deserve the right to know they will be kept safe at school, instead of leaving it up to each staff member and exactly how allergy aware they are. Everything needs to be spelled out and legally binding. It protects your child.

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:16am
chanda4's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

You know, I don't have much pep-talk myself, in the same boat! I am neck deep in 504 issues with my school, they know about as much as your school does, but seem to be a bit more difficult with it all(no nurse with a pa child to understand my views!!) Anyways, you can do this!!! We both are the 1st to pave the 504-road, so even though it's not a role I ever like to take on, we have to do this for our boys, right??!! OUR BOYS(kids)!!!!
I hate being so involved, I am the type of parent that is involved in a few things here and there(like I am interested in the PTO, but never volunteer in the classroom etc...) I don't like being in the lime-light...yet this year has been nothing but spot-light. So fight on.....keep your chin up....you can do this.....your son is worth it!!!! 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 and EE)
Savannah-1 (milk and egg)

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 4:28am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

Hi there!
I, too am knee-deep and know all about that stress level. It isn't fun, but IMO I feel it is necessary.
I would absolutely get the 504, even if the school already does alot of the things you would like to see in your plan.
Take a look at some of the recent topics in Schools, like "Complete Protocol Disaster Yesterday". Saknjmom had everything in place, everyone seemed to know the right things to do, but none of it happened. With a 504 there is accountability for such breakdowns. There isn't with out one. Also, review the thread "Why NOT obtaining Section 504 for your child is a disservice to your child". It has really helped me put things in perspective...lots of good perspective in there.
Don't erroneously rely on the good will of others, or trust in other people to do the right thing because you want them to. Keep in mind your daughter is ENTITLED to such accomodations, this takes feelings right out of it.
And what would happen if your child enters the next grade and has a teacher who is very unwilling to accomodate your child in her classroom? You enjoy what you feel are accomodations now, but those may be passing depending on the willingness of the teacher. A 504 is a 'will do' plan and not a 'will do if I feel like it plan'. Make the healthcare plan a part of your 504, legalize it, it will be a gem for your child.
I know how one person can really get overwhelmed in this, I do. There seems to be so very much to digest. Keep your chin up and keep forging ahead. You will get the desired effect, it will just take a bit to get there!!
HUGS from one stressed gal to another!

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 5:56am
JacksonsMom's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

Thanks you guys. In my heart I know that the 504 is the right thing to do. I have read so many of the stories here about things going wrong with staff changes etc. Carefulmom, one thing you said really stuck out: that any accomodations made this year could be taken away in the future if we don't have a 504. (sorry, I don't know how to quote posts so if this is not exactly what you said I am not putting words in your mouth [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) Is that so? Can they really say that this year all staff have to be epi trained but in 2 years from now they can change that? Or if a new nurse comes in they can 'cut back' on the current accomodations?
Now if I have a 504 in place, none of that could happen, correct? It would go through the years with him ( with updates yearly or as needed ) . Obviously this year is what I am focused on right now. I don't want to look too far into the future as far as what accomodations he'll need later. But I don't want to be put in a position of having to renegotiate everything every year he starts a new grade, KWIM?
Thank you for sharing your experiences, it really does help. Chanda and lilpig hugs to you both too. I have been following your posts and know you are both having struggles as well. Good luck to you , and as always , thanks [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:18am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

[quote]Originally posted by JacksonsMom:
[b] Is that so? Can they really say that this year all staff have to be epi trained but in 2 years from now they can change that? Or if a new nurse comes in they can 'cut back' on the current accomodations? [/b]
Yes indeed. If your child is not 504 designated, they are not required to accomodate him by law. Principals change, teachers change, etc. They are held to nothing without a 504 Plan in place.
[b]Now if I have a 504 in place, none of that could happen, correct? It would go through the years with him ( with updates yearly or as needed ) . Obviously this year is what I am focused on right now. I don't want to look too far into the future as far as what accomodations he'll need later. But I don't want to be put in a position of having to renegotiate everything every year he starts a new grade, KWIM? [/b]
A 504 Plan gives your child his disability status for the years to come....a very nice feature. It follows him and holds each school accountable for following it. You will not have to 're-negotiate' his eligibility status each year--once he has been evaluated by the team and deemed 504 eligible, he will always be eligbile, but you will want to reconvene the team to address any new issues that come with a new class or grade level (for example, moving from half day Kindergarten to full day first grade where the child now stays for lunch).
Hope this helps...

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 6:30am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

I agree with everything lilpig99 said. It was such a relief when she moved on to middle school to not have to worry about proving she qualified for a 504 because she already was found eligible. Yes, if staff changes and you have no 504 anything can happen. If you have a 504, even if the school thinks your child`s pa is not as serious as you make it out to be, they will have to follow the 504 or lose federal funding. I am sure our 4th grade teacher thought I was over the top asking for a food free room (since she violated it, she clearly did not think it was necessary to have a food free room), but because of the 504 status when she did violate it, there was a huge meeting with the nurse, 504 coordinator, principal, teacher, and me. We all had to sign that we were there. The school wanted to document that they had taken measures to fix the problem. They knew if I took it to OCR they would be in hot hot water. I never would have had that power without a 504.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited May 16, 2007).]

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:18am
JacksonsMom's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

This definately helps - and reassures me that I am not taking this whole thing too far. Even with a perfect "health plan" in place for kindergarten, I am guaranteed nothing come first grade.
In the end , all of this stress will be worth it!

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:02am
lilpig99's picture
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Joined: 12/22/2005 - 09:00

You know, it helps me as well JacksonsMom. It helps to remember why we are doing this.
Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2007 - 8:08am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Another key issue is that a 504 prevents discrimination. Someone, I think it was Corvallis Mom, gave this example a few months ago in another thread. If the teacher wants to do a project that is unsafe for your child and you have only an IHP, the teacher can do the project and send your child to another classroom. Your child is safe. With a 504, that is discrimination. With a 504, the teacher would instead have to make the project safe for your child instead of sending him out of the room.

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