Allergies: VIOLATION OF 504 PLAN FOR FOOD ALLERGIES

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Stacey:  We have a 504 for food allergies that was signed in August. The school has violated it several times. They refuse to comply with two of the accommodations in the 504. We were told all we can expect is for the school to TRY to follow the 504. One they refuse to follow is about inclusion. We have been told that we can’t expect them to disappoint the other children so my child will be left out. We are meeting with the 504 coordinator for the county. Should we expect inclusion? Can the school refuse to follow the 504? What should be our next steps?

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4 Comments on "Allergies: VIOLATION OF 504 PLAN FOR FOOD ALLERGIES"

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The information given in other comments about your right to file an OCR complaint is excellent. I would just add that OCR often has a substantial backlog, so if you are considering filing a complaint, it would behoove you to file it as soon as possible. OCR processes complaints on a first-come-first-served basis. Your initial letter need not have every single supporting detail in it — just get that letter of complaint in ASAP. Then start organizing all the stuff in your paper trail, so you’ll be ready to give them quick answers when your complaint gets to the top of the queue. Note: if the school gets its act together while you’re waiting your turn with OCR, you can always withdraw your complaint.

Stacey –

The school cannot refuse to follow the 504 plan – this is a violation of Section 504.

You do have some options. First, you can try to resolve this issue at your next meeting. You should be able to talk about what is/is not working with the 504 plan and suggest changes to the plan – different services, alternative accommodations, etc. You can also ask for information about your rights.

Another option is to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the federal Dept of Education. OCR monitors compliance with Section 504. Their complaint process is usually most effective for compliance issues (like inconsistent 504 plan implementation), though they will sometimes look at appropriateness issues.

You can read about the OCR complaint process here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaints-how.html.

You can also simply contact OCR for info about Section 504 and your/your child’s rights.

A third option is to request a due process hearing. Hearings can deal with compliance issues, but are often most effective for appropriateness issues (like whether individual accommodations are needed).

The school is obligated to provide you with access to a hearing, though how the hearing is provided does vary. You may want to specifically ask about how to request a hearing at your upcoming meeting.

Stacey: The information you are receiving is incorrect. To protect your child, YOU need to become an expert in this area.

Please read this article about a Virginia School District that refused to act when a child had a life threatening food allergy. http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=58

Review the articles on our Allergies/Anaphylaxis page here: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/allergy.index.htm

Provide the school with copies of the legal documents in the Virginia case. Get a notebook and start documenting everything – like a log. Document who you talked with, date, what you were told, what you did. If the school is still unwilling to change their position after you educate them about the Virginia allergy case, contact OCR about filing a complaint.

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