What would you do?


difficult child 2 (currently in 6th grade at a public elementary school) has never had 504 accommodations or an IEP in spite of a diagnosis of anxiety and mood dysregulation (lengthy letter written by treating child psychiatrist provided to SD as well as full battery of neuropsychologist testing). In 5th grade she was a straight-A student; this year her grades have fallen to Bs and Cs. The school has scheduled an Educational Management Team (EMT) meeting April 26 to determine if she now qualifies for 504 accommodations in preparation for transitioning her to middle school next fall.

For a variety of reasons, we have decided to enroll difficult child 2 in a small progressive private school that concentrates on the arts rather than send her to our 1,000-student public middle school. Her current school does not know of our plans (although two of her teachers were asked to write recommendations). Our advocate has recommended that we not tell the school we're leaving the public school system before the EMT meeting. The advocate thinks the disclosure will jeopardize our chances of obtaining the 504, and we need the 504 for two reasons: 1) in the event difficult child 2 ever returns to the public school system; and 2) in the event we need to share the 504 accommodations with the new private school.

husband and I are not comfortable with this approach. First, we believe in being honest with school administrators with whom we have a good working relationship. Second, easy child will be at this school for 3 more years. She has a 504 plan and will need these administrators to continue to support and advocate for her. We believe school administrators will no longer trust us if we do not fully disclose our plans with difficult child 2.

We do want very much to have on the record the need to accommodate difficult child 2's emotional needs. Is there a way to accomplish this without jeopardizing our chances at the 504 by being honest?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Karen & Crew

New Member
I was in a similar situation last year with my difficult child and while I was transferring him within the public school system (transferring from regular elementary to advanced studies elementary) the powers that controlled special testing, 504's, etc. at the regular school flat out refused to saying that "We can't afford to waste our resources when he won't be with us next year anyway. Let M.A. deal with it as they get more money for these things anyway." That has caused a lot of problems this year.

So I'm of the opinion that I wouldn't tell them. Your difficult child needs the stuff drawn up and right now she is still their student and its their responsibility.

If it comes back to you next year with the "why didn't you tell us you were moving her" I'd probably fib a bit (if you could) and say the decision was made after the meeting. After all, you could still change your mind.


New Member
Hi Smallworld!

This is a tough one. I wasn't entirely sure from your post whether the major issue is that the private school will be dismayed to find out that she has a 504 that you haven't told them about, or that the public school team will be unwilling to draw one up if they think she is leaving

First, what kinds of 504 accommodations are you looking for? Do you think that the private school will be reluctant to provide them whether or not they are written into the 504?

Second, given that it is only a 504 plan that you are thinking of, what's the downside if the public school refuses it? Were she to reenroll in public school, you could bring up the whole issue again in any event. This seems to be the lesser issue, in that if she is eligible for it now, she would be eligible for it if she returns to public school, assuming nothing changes.

Third, why should the public school be reluctant to put it in place? Is it going to cost them anything?

In thinking about it, I guess the real issue is what kind of relationship you have and want to have with the new school, whether they would deny her admission if they knew she had a 504. If they want to play that game, then maybe you need to play your game too.

Don't know if this helps or not.

How are the rest of your kids doing?



Thanks for your responses.

Chris, the main issue is that the current school will refuse to put the 504 into place if we disclose that difficult child 2 is leaving the public school system. We have been trying since April of last year to have accommodations formalized. No dice, because the school saw no "educational impact." I have to believe they'll see the impact now, although the principal told me a month ago that the educational impact has be "significant." Give me a break. This kid had serious depression back in December, missed school for a few days, couldn't get her work done, and the school barely noticed. The main accommodations we want on the record are extended time to complete homework and reduced homework at times of significant emotional dysregulaton/stress. We're really not asking for all that much, and the school has refused to budge. And I have to say in all honesty that our advocate hasn't been all that much help (she was much more helpful in identifying private schools that would meet difficult child 2's needs).

husband and I are not at all worried about working with the new school to accommodate difficult child 2's needs. We wrote on her application that she was being treated for anxiety and depression, and the school didn't blink an eye. We've been told that the school is used to dealing with bright and creative kids who have "issues." It is definitely a less stressful environment than the public schools in our county (as you well know), and our hope is that difficult child 2 will be happier there and become more invested in the learning process. But if it doesn't work out there or we feel she needs a larger environment for high school, we want the 504 on the books before we leave the system. At least, that's our rationale at this point.

Thanks for asking about the other kids. easy child is doing great -- eating just about normally now. She struggles with bouts of anxiety and depression from time to time, but she has a wonderful relationship with her psychiatrist and she is very receptive to learning coping skills. difficult child 1 is not being thrown out of his school, at least not yet. He received a D+ in one subject during the 2nd trimester, but his school agreed that if his grades didn't worsen, he would be able to stay for 9th grade. His psychiatrist thinks the transition costs of moving him to a new school are far greater than struggling with keeping him where he is so that is our goal for now. He still struggles tremendously with depression. We've seen slight improvement on 5 mg Lexapro, but my guess is we're going to have to increase the dose. I just hope it doesn't activate him.

How are things on your end?


New Member

so the issue seems to be that you want the 504 for the public schools even this year. In that case, I would go for it, as someone said, you don't know for sure where she will be until September rolls around. I don't think you need to worry about disclosing your thoughts for next year. Suppose she hates the school after two months?

Second, given the accommodations you want, it shouldn't be a big stuggle, though knowing your county it probably will be.

We're about the same here. Oldest is at least attending school each day (only for his academic subjects) which is better than the last two years. Lamictal has really made a difference, as had a friend of his moving in down the road from us. We still have a long way to go to get him engaged in school, but it is not the constant battle and he seems to be doing some work.

Seems like the biggest issue is how much of a fight do you want to wage.

Youngest is still having fits as we say here. If something isn't right he falls apart, blames us etc. We d/c focalin because of greater aggression it seemed, we upped abilify from 5 to 7.5 but tics worsened, so we went back, now we are to 750 mg Trileptal which seems to help a bit at least on reducing the intensity of the meltdowns. Poor kid is still struggling in school, but we hired a tutor who is great who works with him 3 days a week to get his homework done. So at least he is making some academic progress. We may reopen the IEP discussion next year when he moves to middle school (we have 5-8 middle school due to space constaints at elementary school).

So that's it in a nutshell. Sounds like you still have some worries about schooling on your hands. glad to hear easy child is doing better. That was scary.



I value the truth, but you do not have to disclose EVERYTHING. I would let the meeting play out and try to get a 504 plan in place.

I agree with Chris about "what ifs??" You cannot foretell the future and therefore, you may plan to have difficult child 2 go to private school, but it hasn't happened yet. Further, the public school is the service provider of last resort for each of us--and if you do need them, it would be best to not have let them decide that even a (minimal) 504 is unnecessary.

This is why I kept ex-difficult child IN Special Education for the last two years of h.s. even though he was in a private school and I was confident he would never return to public school. On the other hand, I did not predict that ex-difficult child would be on his THIRD high school by Oct 15 of his freshman year.

You cannot know what might happen--therefore, I believe that you do not have to disclose plans that are still months from being acted upon.




trying to survive....
I think you should proceed with the EMT with the goal of obtaining a 504 plan. You are meeting this year to discuss current levels of functioning. If a 504 were to be written it would be implemented immediately and she would recieve the accommodations immediately.

Although your plan is to attend a private school this will not begin until September. If asked you can let the team know that you are considering private school, but have not yet made that decision.

Good luck with the meeting. Formal assessment is not needed for a 504 so the process should be much quicker than time needed for an IEP.


A formal assessment IS required for a 504 plan. To the extent such evaluations are not done, the SD is out of compliance with the law.

FYI--I do not doubt that in practice, such evalaution do NOT get done.



Thanks for your responses. I will share your opinions with husband, who always believes the school has our kids' best interests at heart (ha, ha).

Martie, interesting about needing a formal assessment for a 504. When easy child was granted her 504 last September, a series of questions -- concerning attentional impact, health issues, etc -- was read off at the EMT meeting. On the basis of easy child having a potentially life-threating condition (refusal to eat), she was awarded 504 accommodations. The actual plan was written privately by the Special Education teacher and then presented to me to sign. Is this considered a formal assessment? If not, what would constitute a formal assessment? Is our SD following the right procedures?

As far as I know, difficult child 2 has never had a formal assessment through the SD. We did provide our own neuropsychologist report, but the SD barely paid attention to it. I'm beginning to think our advocate is not helping our cause at all . . .


Since it is a medical condition, I guess that could be considered "formal" enough. My main point was that if you do not know (academically and behviorally) what a child needs, then how can an effective 504 plan be written?

The evaluation for sp.ed. is also sufficient for a 504 but how much below the IEP standard is permissable, I'm not sure. Also, since SDs play fast and loose with the law on 504s more than IEPs, would it make a difference if there were an absolute, set standard?

Your husband needs to get a bit more realistic about where the interest of the SD lies in my opinion.