I am trying to get a 504 approval from my child's public school

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by richmanlopez, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    Dear Friends,

    I need some advice on how to handle this process. Here is the letter I wrote to principal at kid's school. She is in kindergarden.

    Dear Principal
    Thank you again for the meeting we had last week regarding ******'s transition to Kiva School. I am so grateful that we were able to come together as a team to strategize on ways to help ****** integrate into her new school environment.

    I am writing to update you on the outcome of ******’s appointment with Dr. ******, a well-respected board certified neuropsychiatrist specialist who runs the ******Institute.

    Dr. ****** did cognitive, physiological and brain scan testing on ****** during an extensive two day consultation. With the scientific EEG data recorded, he was able to determine that ****** has a developmental disorder with a brain EEG abnormality producing rigidity and impulsivity. This diagnosis supports my instinct that that there is indeed a biological reason for the behavioral issues that she exhibits. While the doctor does not discourage our attempting to manage her behavior with “Love and Logic” techniques, in his vast experience in dealing with similar patients, he does not think that it will be enough. Therefore, Dr ****** is encouraging that we do not delay in starting the 504 process. He will supply any supporting documentation needed. My goal here is not only to help ****** have an “equal playing field” but to quickly implement a plan that ensures the most positive learning environment possible for the whole class.

    This is my formal request that we escalate the timetable we discussed and move forward with the 504 evaluation, which I believe will benefit everyone concerned.

    Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

    Here is what he just wrote back to me:

    Thank you for stopping by yesterday. Sorry I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with you.

    I am initiating the Section 504 process which starts with collecting information from ******’s teachers. I will send out a “Behavioral Observation Form” to her teacher and specials teachers. This way we can get their observations of ****** in their classrooms. I would love for you to send me any information you received from Dr. ****** including his diagnosis. There are usually clues in the doctor’s paperwork that can help us better serve ******.

    The way the Section 504 process works starts by collecting data about the student. When we have enough data to help us with a determination, I will set up a meeting with you, me and her teachers. This would be the “determination” meeting. Though a student may have a medical diagnosis, they may not be eligible for accommodations under Section 504. This is determined by the team (you’re included) during the determination meeting. If she qualifies, we will move to the accommodation phase and create a 504 Accommodation Plan during the same meeting.

    After our meeting the other day, I understand the plan may focus on behavior. Even though a student can get accommodations under Section 504, they are not exempt from discipline under the ****** Code of Conduct. We will look for ways to manage the behavior so that high level discipline can be avoided.

    You will be hearing from me within the next week as I collect the data needed and review it to set an appointment for the determination meeting. Please drop off any information what would help us help ******.

  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I would bring someone with me, an advocate if possible. You have not told us of her challenges but the criteria is much broader now than it was years ago and if her disability area (make sure the dr diagnoses her with something that falls under ADA, dont worry if it is not the exact thing, sometimes we need the label to get services and it doesn't change who your child is...of course I am not saying to lie, just dont sugar coat it....dont say ADHD-like actually say ADHD or whatever they feel is right.) If she has a diagnosis covered by ADA and has any interference with a life function...and now that INCLUDES "thinking" or "concentrating" etc. then she can qualify. I think his reply says he might be worried you think she wont need consequences, but you probably just want appropriate consequences and not to have her sent to the office day afte day or whatever is going on. They dont have any legal obligation like they do with an IEP to do things in a certain number of days or else there is a penalty...so YOU have to be the penalty if they go slow. You have to be on their case if they dont do things appropriately. If what they say is not positive based (work on building skills not just handling the crisis moments with punishment) then refuse the plan. Use websites like writeslaw, PACER and ARC and just do searches for objectives and accomodations that can be put into 504 plans. Anything that can go into an IEP for accomodations can be in a 504 so you can look at IEP objectives/accomodations too.

    Can you tell us more? If you give us ideas about how she is doing and what she struggles with then people who have 504s for their kids in similar situations can give you more information. Sorry if you have said so before, if you create a signature, then we can remember easier for future posts.

    So glad she has you to help her get an appropriate education. Sorry she is struggling.

    one article o 504 eligibility: Section 504 in 2009: Broader Eligibility, More Accommodations Because of the ADAAA, more students may now qualify as persons with disabilities entitled to protection from discrimination based on their disabilities. They also may now be eligible to receive special education or general education with related services and reasonable accommodations, including auxiliary aids and services in school, under Section 504.
    The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 includes several significant changes, which also apply to Section 504:
    The definition of "major life activities" was expanded to include learning, reading, concentrating, and thinking. Also, the definition of "major bodily functions" has been expanded to include neurological and brain functions. This change makes it much easier for individuals with Learning Disability (LD) and/or AD/HD to qualify for protections under ADAAA.

    • ADAAA requires that the limitation on a "major" life activity be broadly, rather than narrowly, interpreted
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I would go for an IEP not a 504.
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I would absolutely go for an IEP instead of a 504 plan. The IEP's allow for more accomodations and need to be more strictly adhered to. It also puts certain limits on the amount of discipline a school can "dish out" and the kinds of things they can discipline for. Find an advocate that knows what they are doing and that knows the federal rules regarding Special Education and IEPs.
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Personally, I'd skip the 504 altogether and go straight for an IEP - reason being that while code of conduct may apply to kids with- 504s, a child with an IEP who engages in a behavior that is due to disability cannot be punished for that behavior under IDEA.

    Even though a student can get accommodations under Section 504, they are not exempt from discipline under the ****** Code of Conduct. We will look for ways to manage the behavior so that high level discipline can be avoided.

    This paragraph sends up *huge* red flags for me. You have a child in Kindergarten who has a disability who, if I am reading between the lines correctly, they intend to hold to the same code of conduct as nondisabled peers, even though you have told them (and I'm assuming neuropsychologist's report will verify) that her behaviors are a result of her disability. Just my experience, but if you have a situation where "high level discipline" is being handed out at this young age, your child is getting set up for a horrific educational experience at a very young age, and it may very well set the tone for her entire academic career.

    Sometimes it's difficult to get IEPs from SDs when they think they can get away with- 504s (which are, if I recall correctly, basically unenforceable). IEPs *are* enforceable. One of the criteria for an IEP is if a child has behaviors/moods that interfere with- their ability to receive an appropriate education. Has nothing to do with- test scores or LDs or any of that - if the *behaviors* interfere with- education, an IEP is appropriate.

    The caveat with- an IEP would be that if your daughter's behaviors are not manageable in a regular ed classroom, she may need to be moved to a more restrictive placement. She's not suspended/expelled, but where she gets her education could be changed. The SDs are supposed to provide appropriate accommodations in least restrictive environment (LRE), but that's kind of hit and miss, depending on your school district.

    Though a student may have a medical diagnosis, they may not be eligible for accommodations under Section 504.

    This also worries me a bit - but in the interest of full disclosure, after 20 years of dealing with- sped directors and SDs, I tend to not trust them straight off. This statement seems to be giving the "team" an out - i.e. just because you've got a diagnosis, they don't have to accommodate. The fact that you've already had a mtg with- the school staff over her transition indicates that there are problems. I think your primary goal at her young age is to keep them from punishing her for behaviors that are not necessarily within her control. Again, a 504 isn't going to do that. If you're dealing with- suspensions, etc., she's missing classroom time, aka her education. It has the potential to turn into a vicious cycle with the end result that school is very negative for her.

    You sound like a very proactive parent, and you may decide to go for the 504 as a first step - perfectly reasonable. But you need to remember that you do have the right to request a full multidisciplinary evaluation in order to assess eligibility for an IEP at any time. If behaviors are an issue, a functional behavioral analysis should be part of that evaluation. If "high level discipline" starts to interfere with- her time in the classroom, you need to remember that students with- IEPs cannot be suspended for more than 10 school days per year. I'm not sure how it works with- a 504, but I know that once you request the IEP evaluation, the school district is officially (legally) notified that they are dealing with- a child with- a disability, and I believe the IEP protections come into play.
  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Right in that they have no teeth, because there is no funding that can be withheld if they do not follow the plan. If one has money or can get a lawyer, you can sue them for violating your child's civil rights though if they dont follow the 504. They know families almost never can do this.

    It CAN be a good tool but I agree that my gut said the same, this guy is saying...yeah we will "try" but if she is a pain in the rear for us, we will just do what we do for all kids who dont follow the rules. (but I am afraid I am biased because even with an IEP, I am fighting admin to do the right thing for my son whose IEP actually says: due to difficult child's brain injury and diagnosis of autism he is UNABLE to follow school and district conduct code as written. All discipline decisions will include input from the IEP team.)

    Have you asked for a full evaluation? How did you decide on a 504 plan?
  7. I have to agree with the consensus to get an IEP. A child qualifies under the behavioral/emotionally disturbed category if the behavior prevents them from participating in classes and obtaining the same educational opportunities as their peers. Also, be aware of your rights. If a child can not recieve an education in the school system you have the right to alternative education at the schools expense. Often, if the school is aware that you know this they are more eager to work with you. The best thing that happened for my daughter was an IEP and placement in a small classroom for behaviorally challenged children in a different school than the one she was attending. They had training on how to deal with children like her. She has since transitioned back into the mainstream classroom with pull out services as necsesary.
  8. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    This is the request that I wrote to her doctor earlier this week:

    Dear ******,

    Thank you for your clear and helpful diagnosis of my daughter ******this week.

    Would you please help me with getting the 504 approval from her school? I need you to write a letter to the ******School District.

    In order to protect ****** I need to prove the impairment does substantially limit a major life function.

    It was sad when ****** mentioned during testing that she is not having any joy in her life, is not happy and clearly wants to do well but cannot control herself. She told me the other night that she feels that she has a creature inside of her that makes her do mean things and not listen.

    The brain and neurological issues she has are getting in the way of her learning, thinking, concentrating without disrupting a class and get removed or disciplined, communicating with others without conflict and the socialization process.

    Below is an explanation of what qualifies a person for the 504.

    Section 504
    To become eligible for services and protection against discrimination on the basis of a disability under Section 504, a student must be determined, as a result of an evaluation, to have a "physical or mental impairment" that "substantially limits one or more major life activities." 29 U.S.C. § 706(8)(B).

    Major Life Activity: (A) Included, but not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. (29 U.S.C. 705, 42 U.S.C. 12102)

    Major Life Activities: (A) Included (B) Major Bodily Functions include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. (29 U.S.C. 705, 42 U.S.C. 12102)

    In the school setting, eliminating discrimination on the basis of disability is accomplished by providing equal access to educational opportunities by providing reasonable modifications and services through a 504 accommodation plan.
    Each school in the Scottsdale Unified School District has an administrator designated as the 504 coordinator for that site (see contact information).

    With thanks and appreciation,
  9. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    Forgot to mention that doctor diagnosed her with developmental disorder with EEG/brain irrgularity causing rigidity and impulsivity.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I think it is great to ask the dr. specifically for what you want. I dont know where you got the 504 guidelines, just remember they have been broadened and not just "neurological" but actually says now that it can include troubles with thinking etc.

    Section 504 in 2009: Broader Eligibility, More Accommodations

    I hope they listen to that but again, a 504 plan may not be sufficient so you might want to formally ask the school district for a complete evaluaton for special education which would offer specific rights and protections that are more enforcible.
  11. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Ditto buddy!! I would rather you go for an IEP and get everything she's going to need than to get a 504 plan that might not be followed and not be enforceable either if they don't. In a way, an IEP ties their hands. The letter sounds good if a 504 is what you really want.
  12. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    Ok I am now going to research the the IEP info. I did get the 504 info printed directly off of our school district's website. Would there be any benefit in going for the 504 first and then possibly going for the 504 later? Is it one or the other. This is all new to me. I just learned what a 504 is from my friend.

    Thanks my friends.
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    With this, I'd go straight for an IEP as well. In kindergarten, behavior may be her only issue, but as she progresses in grades, I'm sure it WILL impact her learning in some very specific ways. Is she showing any delays or deficits? If so, pull those in to the IEP request. Sad as it is, schools respond better to academic issues than to behavioral issues. I really don't understand why, because we all know that behavior not only impacts the academics of the child with the problem, but the whole class as well.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The reason we were given - by a specialist IN the school system - is that the schools are trained (at least in theory) in how to handle academic-type learning issues. They are NOT trained in handling mental health issues... the better ones at least recognize that such issues are at the root of the behavior problems and that it isn't just bad-kid or bad-parenting!
  15. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    Here is the actual full transicrit the doctor put together after testing my little one: I am worried that it may not show any academic issues that would get us the IEP approval. Do you all see anything? If it is just behavioral issues I do not think she would even qualify for a IEP.

    Categories of Disability Under IDEA

    The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions guide how States in their own turn define disability and who is eligible for a free appropriate public education under special education law. The definitions of these specific disability terms from the IDEA regulations are shown beneath each term listed below. Note, in order to fully meet the definition (and eligibility for special education and related services) as a “child with a disability,” a child’s educational performance must be adversely affected due to the disability.

    I’ve met initially with ******* to give her a synopsis of what was done, and to reassure her that there are lots of things she did very well and that I am hopeful we will have a recommendation that will help her to achieve her goal and that is to control her impulsiveness and be more socially appropriate so that friendships can evolve and socialization can occur. She has been excused and now mother and maternal grandmother have joined me to review the results.

    The quantitative neurological examination showed that her height at 51 ½ inches puts her well beyond the 95[SUP]th[/SUP] percentile and she is just above the 95th percentile with her weight of 62.7 pounds. She is right handed with a laterality quotient of +100, right-eyed, right-footed, and *******. When holding the writing instrument in writing, she uses a non-inverted wrist but full grasp hand posture. Writing speed is slow in order to try to gain control of the letters. Overflow movements from the left to the right hand occur. Balance is reduced on the right versus the left lower extremity. Timed alternate motion rate in the right hand is slower than in the left, but otherwise no other lateralizing signs in reflexes, coordination or involuntary movements was detected.

    Academic measures showed that the Gray Oral Reading Test was accomplished at the end of the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] grade with adequate decoding skills. Writing is difficult, but she can spell at a 1[SUP]st[/SUP] grade level. Math skills were hampered by problems in accuracy in more complex addition, such as 4+3 = 2, and she does not have mastery of the concept of subtraction, and she is in grade K but is a retained child from entry into 1[SUP]st[/SUP] grade.

    Parent rating scales on the DSM-IV show impulsivity, borderline hyperactivity, but not clear evidence of inattentiveness. On the Achenbach Behavior Checklist, aggressiveness, problems in socialization, social withdrawal and obsessiveness were prominent, with lower levels of personality traits seen in children with attentional problems. On Rapid Automatized Naming she did well, getting 10 animals in one minute, which is normal, and picture naming, all 8 identified in 17 seconds, but substituted fire truck for bus, U for horseshoe and hook for anchor, all three of which are common at age 6 years 2 months. On the Student’s Depression Inventory, ******* endorsed difficulties with interpersonal relationships as a major concern, as well as a moderate level of lack of joy in her life.

    Neuropsychological measures showed on the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test that the verbal learning curve is good. The top score is 7 out of a possible 10, normal 6 or more, and a total score of 30, normal mid-20s or more. Recall was borderline at 4 words or 57% recall. Ideally, we’d like that closer to 75%. On Kagan’s Matching Familiar Figures Test, her time was normal at 176 seconds, and the error rate at 15 on this visual discrimination task was
    within the normal range at 15, normal 20 or less. Letter Cancellation was done in normal time at 3 minutes 9 seconds for the 1-letter version of this task. It is a proofreading task of attention. Three errors were made, which is borderline in significance for inattentiveness, but all three were in the right hemi space, suggestive of left hemispheric dysfunction, as was the quantitative examination. On digits forward, she did adequately for chronological age, getting 4 out of 8 trials up to 4 numbers in a row in sequence properly repeated, but she could not reverse even 2 numbers. That is borderline, but there are 6 year olds who just don’t have the concept of how to reverse the sequence of 2 numbers. On the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test she had difficulty with visual-motor skills and visual perception. Short term and long term visual spatial memory are also weak. However, this specific task will not optimize until age 13, so it is hard to be harsh with her. Finally, on the Conners’ Continuous Performance Test, this computerized test of attentiveness confirmed that for whatever reason attention is not easy for her at this moment.

    The routine electroencephalogram showed a dysrhythmia grade 1.5, a mild to moderate change, slowing but no sharp wave discharges as occur in epilepsy, and this is confined to the left temporal parietal region. The computer assisted analysis confirmed the clinical impression of the routine study, as well as the N100/P300 both having prolonged latencies as occur in developmental disorders at 220 milliseconds, normal less than 100 milliseconds, and 328 milliseconds, respectively, normal less than 300 milliseconds.

    This, in my judgment, is a brain-based disorder in which biological dysfunction forces the child into behaviors that she cannot control that include trying to control the behavior of others. This is not oppositional-defiant behavior. This does not mean she can never been oppositional and defiant. It means that the symptoms of greatest concern are not voluntary. Whether the brain dysfunction contributes to this is hard to prove by the physiology measure, but chemical therapy is appropriate. We have talked about SSRIs (there are two family members who have been responsive favorably to Celexa) and the atypical neuroleptics. We know of one family member who did not tolerate Abilify while on Celexa. She has not been tolerant of Prozac or Paxil, as well as the psychostimulants which either made her overly obsessive or explosive. Antiepileptics are a consideration, but without sharp wave discharges, I would prefer to consider first the atypicals and perhaps Risperdal because of its generic availability and cost effectiveness is worth considering, starting with just half of a 0.25 mg at bedtime. That can be increased to a full and later on, after I return from overseas, I would anticipate we will be adding a half or a full in the morning. These are very low dosages, but observation for appetite stimulation should be carried out. Withdrawal is not an issue and general health effects, unless there is weight gain, are not a concern either.
  16. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    I do not know if we stand a chance of getting approved for an IEP becuase it seems to be behavioral problems

    Categories of Disability Under IDEA

    The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions guide how States in their own turn define disability and who is eligible for a free appropriate public education under special education law. The definitions of these specific disability terms from the IDEA regulations are shown beneath each term listed below. Note, in order to fully meet the definition (and eligibility for special education and related services) as a “child with a disability,” a child’s educational performance must be adversely affected due to the disability.
  17. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    There is as category of qualification in an IEP called EBD(Emotional Behavioral Disability). That is the category that qualifies a child for only behavioral reasons. I am not sure what "300.3; 345.40" are the codes for but will look them up later. Depending on what those are specifically, your daughter might also qualify under Other Health Impairments since the psychiatrist specifically states that it is a "brain-based" disability.

    My son qualified under EBD until he was diagnosis'd with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). That has it's own category in the IEP. At the time we got his IEP, it was totally behavioral issues at school.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    TeDo is right and many of us will chime in with that. School performance INCLUDES social things, being able to follow directions of the teacher, etc. It does not mean she wil be put in a Special Education. classroom or anything, (unless that is what you all as a team thinks will work well for her) it means that goals and objectives to help her succeed, and appropriate accomodations for her to get along in school. Their evaluation should also check if she has any sensory or language processing issues that are not obvious from basic academic tests ad just looking at how she uses language. It is worth pushing for because you will have mandated rules and regulations that they must follow where the 504 is in theory supposed to do the same (anything that can go in a 504 can be in an IEP) but as was mentioned, there is no funding for the 504 plan, it is a plan that simply says...this person is protected by the american's with disabilities act and they can not be discriminated against while in school....here is way to make that happen.... So if that doesn't happen...what to do? You can fight them and take them to court for violating her civil rights... But IEP has a lot more protections and as you will read here, many of us have to use them frequently.
  19. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm not fluent in Dr speak, but if I'm not mistaken she does have fine motor skills issues. In my experience fine or gross motor skills issues are an easy "foot in the door" for IEP. Once the school evaluates her for those and sets up the IEP, it's easier to add the neurologically based disability.

    The reality is, that she has a disability that affects her behavior which in turn WILL affect her access to education. (If she is expelled or suspended, she doesn't have access, does she?)

    If you ask for an IEP evaluation verbally, they WILL try to convince you that she will not qualify. Ask for an evaluation in writing. Once you do, they MUST do one within a Federally mandated time frame.
  20. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    If your child has behavioral issues that adversely affect her education (i.e. she has to be removed from classroom, is suspended, etc.), she is eligible for an IEP.

    "This, in my judgment, is a brain-based disorder in which biological dysfunction forces the child into behaviors that she cannot control that include trying to control the behavior of others. This is not oppositional-defiant behavior. This does not mean she can never been oppositional and defiant. It means that the symptoms of greatest concern are not voluntary."

    This is, by definition, a disability. Just because it involves behavior rather than, for example, vision or hearing or seizures or motor control or a specific learning disorder doesn't make it any less of a disability. (I'm sorry if that's too blunt - I know how incredibly difficult it can be when you first starting getting information about what is going on with- your child.) Disruptive behaviors that are not within her control are going to affect her ability to receive an appropriate education.

    It seems that he also was identifying some fine motor issues - since they relate to writing, that also is an IEP worthy item.

    I'd also point out that 20 years ago, when my oldest was entering public school in the early intervention programs (and he has zero behavioral issues), "developmental delay" was a catch-all phrase used to qualify kids for EI. It covered a multitude of real diagnoses, from mental retardation to cerebral palsy to genetic anomalies to physiologic brain abnormalities, vision/hearing issues, etc. He maintained that daughter classification until he was 10, when he was switched to OHI. It's less important for a school district to have a "diagnosis" than it is for them to identify and address issues that may affect your daughter's ability to obtain an appropriate education - they can call it whatever they want, but they need to address fine motor issues (I would think via Occupational Therapist (OT) services), behavior issues, social issues, and any Learning Disability (LD) issues that exist now or may surface in the future - along with- anything else that pops up along the way.

    I think your dr. actually did a bang up job for you - not only did he identify a "developmental disability" but he also very specifically states that her behaviors are a part of her disability.

    Again - I very strongly think you need to go for the IEP, especially since it seems that she has behaviors that may appear oppositional/defiant but are not within her control. It will save you a lot of heartache over that code of conduct.