Section 504: CAN THE SCHOOL CHANGE 504 WITHOUT MY PERMISSION?

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Porsche:  I was informed today that I am not required to attended 504 meetings. I was also informed that the school ultimately makes 504 decisions and i have no say so. This upsets me greatly due to the fact that i feel like i have no say so for my son. Does anyone have any advice? The meeting is tomorrow at 2:45 pm cst.

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cheri

How is it not discrimination to create a process that is more difficult for parents to participate? Discrimination happens when individuals with disabilities are adversely affected….certainly not being a part of a team to discuss accommodations needed or not needed and to consent or not consent could lead to adverse effects.

Chuck

Unfortunately that is the way the 504 rules are written. Many, but not all schools understand the importance of involving parents in this process.

Sophie

If necessary, ask to reschedule so you can be part of the process.
Try to bring someone with letters after their name with you to such meetings. Or an experienced education advocate. (Ask at your local independence center which serves people with disabilities.) Or someone who knows your child and his needs well, and isn’t afraid to speak up. Or at least someone who will take good notes.
What they told you may be true legally (I trust JG’s and Chuck’s comments about this), but it would be very embarrassing. Try to create a paper trail with email. At the very least, put the things you were told in a log.

Jill G

The school is legally right. They have the ultimate responsibility to develop the 504 Plan, and have no obligation to accept your input or even invite you to the meeting. That said, they are highly encouraged to involve parents in the 504 process by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR – who monitors 504 compliance).

Here’s some rights that you do have. The school is required to give you notice when they change the 504 plan. You also have the right to review your child’s records, which will include the 504 plan. You have the right to request a due process hearing if you disagree with the completed 504 plan (or any other action in the 504 process). And you have a right to file a complaint with OCR, if these rights have been violated.

Jill G

If the school does not view you as a valuable member of the 504 Team or invite you to the meeting, there is no legal mechanism for forcing them to. What I might do in your situation is provide them with written information that I thought may help them develop the plan – relevant doctors reports and evaluations, letters from other individuals responsible for my child’s care or education (tutors, babysitters, etc.), and a “parent reports” with my goals for my child, his strengths, his challenges, and what I think would be of most support to him. I would also ask them to let me know the ways that they think I could be of most support to my child. Maybe with all this, in time, the school would adjust their thinking.

Chuck

504 regulations do not require schools to invite parents or have them at the meetings or have parental consent. Many districts realize while this is legal, it is not a good practice to not let parents be involved. You can still share your concerns, requests, etc. with the campus administration, & 504 team in writing. The Office of Civil Rights enforces 504. If you feel that the district is not meeting your child’s needs &/or following 504 regulations, you can file a complaint with them.

Sophie

Chuck, careful — at least in my experience, while the Office for Civil Rights does a good job of checking complaints when the plan or the regulations are not being followed, it does not check whether the district is following the child’s needs, no matter how much evidence you present. They’ll refer you to due process for that.
Also note that complaints to OCR can easily take three months to get to the top of OCR’s queue — so this is generally not a quick fix.

Chuck

Sophie, you are correct. OCR will not accept all complaints & may say they do not have authority over certain issues. My point is, they can be helpful if they decide to get involved. When I worked for public schools, I much preferred dealing with the state education agency over a complaint than dealing with OCR.