by: Lisa Cosseboom, M.Ed., CAGS
For this article, we asked our inhibitor families to share stories of challenges they faced with their local school systems. We thank you for sharing! We applaud your tireless efforts to access equals rights to a free appropriate public education for your child. It can be a frustrating landscape to navigate! Our school psychologist, Lisa Cosseboom shares some solutions for challenging situations.
1) My child is in a wheelchair temporarily. Can the school suggest he stay home until the wheelchair is no longer needed?
NO! You cannot exclude a child from school based upon a disability, temporary or otherwise. If it were a permanent condition, the school district must provide wheelchair accessibility including transportation, handicap bathroom access, elevator, ramps etc. Additionally, the school must provide alternative/modified physical education during which the child is unable to participate fully.
2) As part of an agreement with our public school, my child attends a private school at their expense as it met his needs better than the public system. We have been trying to get a 504 plan for him before he enters high school, but the school refuses to write one.
Unfortunately, unless that private school is receiving federal funding in any capacity (i.e. Title 1 funding) they are not required to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. If he were entering a public high school, the school district would be required to hold a 504 eligibility meeting.
3) My child is in private school. What accommodations or services can be provided for my child there?
Unless receiving any type of federal funding, the school is not required to provide accommodations and/or services. However, you can certainly request a meeting with administration to see if they would be willing to entertain providing accommodations as needed. Sometimes, approaching a school with a positive attitude and reasonable request will work. (I.e. you get more with sugar than spice.)
4) My child sees the adjustment counselor at our school for anxiety issues related to his bleeding disorder. Can the school system charge me personally for those services?
Absolutely NOT! Services provided in the public school system, by a public school employee are covered by your taxes! If your child is seeing someone outside of the public schools for counseling in school by an agency, then your insurance would cover the cost.
5) The ADA coordinator at our elementary school invalidated my child’s 504, indicating that absences and injuries would be evaluated on a case by case basis to prevent abuse of services.
This is a clear civil rights violation. Public schools are required to provide appropriate accommodations to a qualified student who has a disability so that child can participate and access their education. Any child who has a disability that “substantially limits one or more major life activities” which includes education. They cannot “invalidate” a 504 plan because of injury or absences. I would suggest you meet with the principal or higher administrator in the district. If possible, I would suggest you acquire an advocate.
6) The school my daughter attends, put a 504 on hold for my daughter because she doesn’t go to the nurse when she has a bleed and can manage on her own. How can I get the school to put a 504 in place?
Regardless of your daughter’s independence in caring for her bleeding disorder, she should have a plan in place. A meeting should be held for qualification and you will need to provide medical documentation. There could be times that your daughter may need to access the nurse without question from teachers or scrutiny.