Dismissed from Team, Parent Wants to File a Complaint
Sue Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw
child has chronic medical problems. Although he wants to attend school,
he is often absent for medical treatments. A few days ago, he was
dismissed as manager of a sports team.
He is devastated. This was one of the few ways he can socialize with
other students. I am angry. I want to file a complaint. How should
I handle this?
he has a 504 plan, we have had ongoing problems about grades and completing
work. I was told that parents are not involved in designing 504 Plans.
Since I have firsthand information about his medical problems and
needs, I think it is my responsibility to provide the school with
information and to have a say in what they provide.
reported problems with his Section 504 plan to the Office for Civil
Rights but my complaint was not upheld.
have an immediate problem and an ongoing problem. We need to tackle
the immediate problem about his dismissal from the sports team first,
then look at the ongoing problem.
from the Team
You need to talk to the school principal and tell him/her what you
have told me. Something is getting lost in the communications. If
the principal will not help, go to the superintendent, and then to
the school board.
Make sure you frame your discussions in human terms, not legal ones.
The child's has a serious medical problem that requires him to miss
some school. This is not a reason to deny him participation in extracurricular
The school is required to accommodate HIM, not accommodate who they
would like him to be.
You may be reluctant to tell the whole story when you talk to people.
The fact that your child has cancer is a difficult subject that causes
most people to react emotionally.
sure you say the words that are necessary to communicate the situation,
even if it is difficult for you to get them out. You may need to practice
with a friend, and bring someone with you for support when you talk
to the principal.
let's look at the problems with Section 504 Plans - getting an appropriate
plan and ensuring that the school implements the plan.
you have already gone through the process of complaining and been
unsuccessful, you need to go back to square one and put things in
On the site of the American Diabetes
Association, you will find a Sample
504 Plan and a Medical Management Plan.
these plans were designed for a child with diabetes, you can use them
as templates for your child's plans. Revise the plans so they reflect
your child's conditions.
Medical Management Plan
Medical Management Plan outlines the student's specific medical
needs as determined by his/her health care team. Describe every
situation that has come up, or is likely to come up. Make sure you
frame the issues in terms of medical need or disability. Ask your
son's primary doctor to sign the Medical Management Plan.
Deliver the plan to the school nurse and provide copies to his teachers
and the principal. This ensures that school personnel have accurate
information about his medical condition and needs.
After you take these steps and provide the school with the Medical
Management Plan, it will be up to the school to make their case for
a lesser 504 Plan. This will be hard to do after the child's doctor
signed off on your plan.
At this point, you will have more facts to use if you decide to file
have questions about the appropriateness of a Section 504 Plan for
your child. Since he has cancer and is often absent from school because
of medical appointments, it sounds like he has a disability that adversely
affects educational performance.
If this is the case, he is a child
with a disability under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act and is entitled to an Individualized
Educational Program (IEP). A child with a disability and an IEP has more
rights and protections than a child who has a 504 plan.
Be sure you understand how to file a complaint. If you complain to
the school district first, you CAN
lose your ability to complain to the Office of Civil Rights. (See
and Answers on OCR's Complaint Process) You need to decide who
you want to resolve an issue before you bring it up.
be sure you know WHAT YOU WANT
if the complaint is found in your son's favor. If you don't ask for
anything when you file your complaint, you will not get anything when
it is resolved.
There is an electronic
form that people can use to file an OCR complaint. I would not
use this form. If you write a letter, you are in a much better position
to make your case. Use the form as checklist to make sure you include
all the information that a person reviewing the complaint will want
You have 180 days after an event to file a complaint.
You need to learn
how to be an effective advocate for your child.
You need to learn write nice persuasive letters that document what
you were told. Read Letter
Writing & Paper Trails.
you read "Writing
a Letter to the Stranger," you will learn how to make requests
so the decision-makers who have power want to help.
What is Really Going On?
also need to look at the situation in terms of common sense. Can you
answer these questions?
What is setting people off at school?
What is really behind making a kid with cancer jump through hoops?
What turned this into a power struggle between adults who forgot about
The solution to your problem is apt to be in the answers to these
three questions, rather than the information about 504 plans and complaints.
Section 504 Plans
504 Plans & Medical Management Plans
504 & ADA: Articles, Caselaw, Memoranda
OCR Complaint Process
the Office for Civil Rights Handles Complaints
& Answers on OCR's Complaint Process
and PDF Complaint Form
Meet Sue Whitney
Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.
In her column, Doing Your Homework, Sue writes about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.
Sue's articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.
Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was
published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc..
She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State
Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities
Sue Whitney's bio.
© 2002-2020 by Suzanne Whitney.