Two months ago I wrote a post about our efforts to get a 504 plan put into place for Joseph.
Well, I finally had the 504 meeting (on May 8th) with Joseph's teacher, school nurse and school psychologist. The next day, our team's evaluation and 504 plan were submitted to the School District.
I thought we were all set.
Until last Tuesday-- when I received an email informing me that the School District's 504 person (SDP) "is concerned that there is not documentation" that Joseph's diabetes is "affecting a 'major life activity,' as narrowly defined by the 504 law and guidelines."
You've got to be kidding me.
SDP also feels that because my son "has demonstrated through test results and grades that he is a high achiever and thus he is learning adequately" our 504 team must meet again "to reconsider criteria for a 504 plan, with [SDP] guiding the team through this discussion."
It gets worse.
SDP believes that "there may not be a justification for or need for a 504 plan at this time" and when we meet, "will have suggestions for the transition to middle school and working with the middle school staff" regarding Joseph's "health care plan" and "any possible accommodations that may be appropriate."
Really, really tired.
But if they want a fight, that's exactly what they'll get.
So far, these are the steps I've taken:
- Forwarded SDP's email to Joseph's endocrinologist, along with an urgent plea for a letter stating the reasons why she believes 504 protection is both appropriate and necessary for my son.
- Spoke with an attorney at the Office for Civil Rights and was told that I can file a complaint if the District refuses the 504. That Joseph should indeed qualify for 504 protection.
- Contacted a Legal Advocate from the ADA, read him SDP's email and asked for help. His response: "I want to be at that meeting."
- Sent an email to my JDRF support group's leader asking for names of those who've been through this battle before-- and won.
- And finally-- not slept.
I've also been worrying.
Because several weeks ago a secondary school principal told me that we were not going to get a 504 for Joseph-- that "the District will never go for it-- they just don't do 504 plans."
She's never even seen one.
But that's not all.
For you see, while the middle school we've chosen for Joseph is awesome, and (get this) the school nurse there has Type 1 Diabetes and wears a pump herself, she is adamantly against 504 plans for kids with diabetes.
How do I know this?
She told me.
Last fall, at an ADA Safe at School Seminar on how to create a 504 plan, this nurse joined the audience and played devil's advocate throughout the presentation-- even after the seminar, going so far as trying to talk those parents in attendance (including me) out of doing 504s for our kids.
Also, Joseph's endo informed me at our last visit that "many times" their clinic has "butt heads" with this nurse over the issue of 504 plans for her patients.
Bottom line-- if I don't put this thing in place now, it's gonna be A LOT tougher getting it next year when we'll be dealing with this nurse.
So there it is.
If any of you have gone through this process successfully, please share your stories.
Based upon what criteria was your child deemed eligible for 504 protection? Was your child doing well academically? How did you overcome any resistance to the 504?
Oh, and by the way, SDP has scheduled our meeting for June 8th -- just one week before school lets out.
For those unfamiliar-- Section 504 is a federal law that protects a child with a disability from discrimination and ensures that accommodations are made for their condition (i.e., allowing a child with diabetes to test their blood sugar in the classroom, re-take an exam if their blood sugar is low, etc... ).
If you have a child with diabetes, and that child attends school, you want your child recognized as "eligible for 504 protection" and you want to put a "504 Plan" in place.
A Health Care Plan alone is simply a guide-- not a legal document. In other words, no school district employee is legally required to follow it.
For more information, go here and here.