Son's Neglected 504 Plan in Massachusetts

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by John_S, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. John_S

    John_S New Member

    My high school senior was just readmitted to his school after being suspended the 3rd week of school, and only after a wonderful lawyer helped his legal situation. In the process of meeting with school officials and his guidance counselor during re-admittance I learned my son's 504 Plan (re: ADD) had not been reviewed last year as required. I have always thought the guidance counselor was not doing her job. A knowledgeable friend told me to check this site, and even felt an IEP is possible if I push hard enough. Will someone in the know please inform me as to our rights? Also, I am presently providing a tutor at my own expense. Is this correct? Thanks in advance.

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  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Student's with 504 Plans or IEPs can still be suspended for up to 10 days in the school year before it's considered a change in placement.

    504 does not require parent participation by law and they are difficult to enforce. So technically, while a student that has a 504 plan can get just about any service an IEP student can, it's common that they don't.

    If you are paying for a tutor, it tells me that your son is having academic difficulties.

    Give us a bit of history. Tell us about the present situation. Are you expecting your son to graduate this year? Where is he academically? Are there behavior problems as a rule? Is ADD the only formal diagnosis?
     
  3. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    If your son was out of school since the third week of school, the ten day rule was violated.

    I won't kid you, no public h.s. is going to want to IEP qualify a senior. More likely (except that you consulted an attorney) they would like to push him out of school and be done with him.

    To try to help, as Sheila said, we need more information.

    Also, please go to your personal page and wrtie a signature that includes a bit of information. It can be whatever you feel comfortable disclosing. It helps us keep all the members straight in our minds.

    Martie
     
  4. John_S

    John_S New Member

    Thanks for the replies. Sorry for my delay. This took some time to write. Excuse my unfamiliarity with using this site. It was just recommended to me by a good friend.

    In 5th grade, after my ex moved out, my son had his best academic year to date, receiving A's & B's. I worked closely with him much to the consternation of a Special Education. teacher whom I was seeing. As he got older, and resisted my involvement, his grades declined. It was at my insistence he be tested outside the school, while in 8th grade, despite the lack of any "soft" indications from the school's Core Evaluation. After the testing, it was determined he had no learning disabilities, but did exhibit ADHD. A psychiatrist in the office where he and I went for counseling separately, but with the same therapist, agreed with the diagnosis after an appointment with my son (who at the time wanted no part of any medication).

    I kept him back in 8th grade, at the school's recommendation, thinking he wasn't emotionally ready for high school. He was also small in stature and looked younger. In retrospect, the decision greatly hurt his self-esteem, making him think he was “stupid”, or at least giving him an excuse not to try. I asked for a 504 Plan review when he arrived at the high school. I have always perceived his guidance counselor as doing less than what is required. She makes an effort when she is in the hot seat. High school academics got worse each year, always culminating in one or two summer school classes. My son seemed to do a lot better in a smaller more specific classroom environment.

    After I was re-married a year ago, and blending families, my son and my wife's (not the SPED teacher) teenage son began acting out together. My son was cutting a lot of classes or not showing up at all. My wife and I tried to start family counseling. The boys resisted, and when they did go "brought nothing to the table", in the words of the therapist. My wife and I continued on without them. Both kids were openly admitting pot use. By December my son went before the Academic Review Board and was told he could not continue skipping school. He complied, and also began doing his work by the last semester. He was in the 3rd and easiest level of difficulty for all his academic classes. I had a good report from his Physics teacher, although my son missed passing for the year by a couple points. He had to go to summer school for English, and passed, although his summer school teacher said his effort could have been better. He did not care for this teacher.

    Because N. Andover has a residency requirement, and because we had to move back to my wife's house in a neighboring town for financial reasons, we arranged for my son to pay a friend's mother room and board in order to live in their house this academic year. He also did not want to live with us. This new setting proved to be disastrous. The house turned out to be a hangout for all of his friends. A wonderful friend of ours had wanted to take him in, but could not do so after her son objected. My son and her son had grown up together as friends. Her son objected to the manner in which my son was now treating his peers. My son's step-brother in the meantime went to live with his father.

    About the 3rd week of school this year my son was accused of a felony, which he admitted, involving the theft of another student’s property from a car on school property. He was suspended for two weeks. Incidentally, during the same time the school was given an accreditation warning. At the end of the two weeks, the Principal continued the suspension, pending the outcome of the legal matter. We appealed to the Interim Superintendent (who replaced his recently fired predecessor). He upheld the suspension. He stated (or his lawyer stated) my son could only be readmitted if the outcome was neither Guilty nor "Continued Without a Finding". Because we retained an exceptional lawyer at the insistence of my mother, the case was dropped but could be reopened if my son gets into trouble in the next year. Restitution was made, as well.

    The morning following the ruling, the Principal would not readmit my son. She told us she was in meetings and would not be available until noon. After she left the main office, the Superintendent appeared. He told me only my son had to come back at noon. I left work anyway, at my son's request and on the advice of our lawyer. It turned out to be a meeting with the Superintendent, Principal, Assistant Principal, Guidance Counselor, and investigating Police Officer! The Principal did not understand the unusual legal ruling. I had to get our attorney on the speaker phone. Good thing she was available. Although the Superintendent understood her explanation, the Principal resisted his authority. After she finally conceded, the Guidance Counselor admitted my son's 504 Plan should have been reviewed last year. I’m not sure why the Police Officer was present, but it was at this time he departed. Perhaps he was there to escort us out if the principal got her way.

    Trying to help my son and his cause during the suspension, I started him in counseling again. That he would go was a small miracle. At my son’s request we went to see his pediatrician regarding ADHD medication. My son's motive was perhaps more focused on getting a "buzz", as he had requested Aderol. His step-brother had been previously prescribed the same. It was discontinued when we realized he had been cutting up his daily pills and inhaling them with a straw! My son had actually told us about it. The pediatrician instead prescribed Concerta for my son, while telling us pot would counteract the medication’s effect. He also told my son about recent medical information concerning pot’s detrimental effects on learning. My son claims no effect from the Concerta, yet seeming more lucid when we speak, and says he has not used pot since.

    His second counseling appointment is tonight. Insurance pays for this. I am trying to start him with English tutoring, at our expense, from a friend's mother. She is a former teacher from the same school. My son's math teacher, whom he likes, has not responded to my request for extra help. My son is being given until the end of the next semester to make up the first semester's work. Meanwhile, the Superintendent was concerned about MCAS testing this week. Considering the accreditation warning, I see why.

    I ask at this point, where do we stand legally, concerning the school’s apparent neglect, as well as what they are required to do by law?
     
  5. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Dear John,

    Since your son has a 504 plan, and an ADHD diagnosis, you CAN request a full case study evaluation for qualification as a Special Education. student. That the school did not review the 504 plan does not surprise me--there is no enforcement mechanism for 504 which is why SDs are so free with handing out 504 plans. They ususally intend to do nothing with/about them.

    If you WANT to request evaluation for Sp Ed then you should send a certified letter to the Director of Special Education. Around here, the advice is,"if it's worth writing, it's worth sending CERTIFIED."
    Please check the Sp Ed 101 Archives on this board. There is a "getting started" thread that will answer many of your questions.

    In addition, I recommend www.wrightslaw.com as the best links for parent self-education re: general Special Education. law.

    BECAUSE your son was charged with a felony the school district may try to say he is "socially maladjusted." If anyone says this, never let it stand uncorrected (because social mal is an automatic DISqualifier for Sp Ed services.) Your son should be clasified under OHI due to his ADHD.

    To qualify for Special Education, two things must be present

    1) a disabling condition that is "on the list" ADHD is such a disability

    and

    2) negative educational impact. Since your son is not making normal progress in school and was retainied in 8th grade, he has "negative educational impact" in my opinion but the school district will probably deny this (because they can't deny the ADHD.)

    I hope this helps you get started. If you do the legwork and take your attorney with you, perhaps you will pull off a near miracle and get a senior in h.s. qualified for the supports he should have had from the school years ago. Then he could graduate but the way the school district has it set up now, they are counting on him dropping out to not be around for the MCAS.

    Martie
     
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