Saturday, October 27, 2012

Looking Back: 504 Denied Part 2

Looking Back posts are my effort to journal the diabetes times
that have gone before the start of this blog.

I would like to first state that our school district is awesome and they have never been anything but supportive and active in wanting the best for my girls!  This situation basically boils down to understanding the law.

And with that...when we last left our heroine she was fighting to the death to save her cub from the evil, oppressive establishment...

The school was going to deny my request for a 504 for Roo.  I was disappointed because now I was going to have to show a school district that they were wrong about something they had probably done hundreds of times for decades.  Well, at least in regards to diabetes.  Crap. 

The law in a nice package:
Roo is entitled to a 504 Plan because she has a physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, that of a major bodily function, her endocrine system.  She is to be evaluated without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such a medicine, her insulin.

Roo's got a busted pancreas that Congress says limits a major life activity and you have to evaluate her as if she doesn't take insulin so give her the 504.  Or you could say - take the insulin away and she would definitely be limited in a major life activity - LIFE! - but I don't think you can link "life" back to the amendment as neatly as you can the endocrine system.

I tried sending an email quoting the law and sending links to helpful sites that spell out why kids with Type 1 Diabetes are entitled to a 504 plan but I doubt they really read it.  It was going to take a 3rd party and I caught a break when the the school themselves sent me an email with just the contact I needed:

Mrs. Laura

It was a pleasure meeting with you last night, and whereas we disagree an Roo's eligibility for a 504 Plan, we look forward as a District to serving all of her needs, both medically and academically, through a Health Plan.

I read your quotes below from the website, thank you for including those.  At last night's meeting, we all agreed that Roo does have a disability, in this case diabetes.  However, when going through the eval, and please correct me if I'm wrong, we also all agreed that Rhea's disability does not "substantially limit one or more of her major life activities."

   >> Only when BGs are good.  Obviously I did not make it clear in the meeting.  Probably has something to do with the beeberbeeberbeeee. (fingers strumming lips and not this

In fact, the highest we came on the scale was "mild".  Because of that, and her current and history of grades (all A's), and feedback from her current teachers, we determined that Roo does not qualify for a 504 Plan. 

   >>Just because she is a good student doesn't mean she doesn't qualify

However, <oppressive establishment> will be implementing a Health Plan for Roo that will contain, at your request, a few academic accommodations (extra time if needed, etc.).  Plus, as you also said, the teachers in the District, and the Nurses, are already doing a great job of working with Roo.

  >>SO TRUE!

 Your concern, and it is valid, is when or if something should worsen with Roo's condition, that she will not be penalized for that.  I want reassure you again that will not happen, whether she has a 504 Plan or not.  What I took away from the meeting was that you're not disputing any of that, you just feel Roo is entitled to a 504 Plan based on her diagnosed condition of diabetes and the possible implications that could have.  We feel as a District that we will be able to best serve Roo through a Health Plan.

All of that being said, and as promised, I would like to give you some contacts that you may want to explore if you'd like to appeal the decision that has been made by our District. 

<insert contact at the state Department of Education>
<other stuff telling me they are denying the 504>

Mr Counselor

and he cced the Dept of Education.  Sweet!

We set up a conference call with an attorney from the state Dept of Education and he basically repeated the law about mitigating measures (he obviously didn't want say directly that all Type 1s basically auto-quality) until the school understood that there was no other choice but to grant the 504 because without insulin, Roo's evaluation would have a completely different outcome. 

Poor guys though. It's never fun to eat it. I'm just thankful that they LISTENED. Some schools don't.  It was the mitigating measures that was throwing them I think.  They were pretty worked up towards the Dept of Ed that it has not been made clear in their training or other means how to do this correctly. It also prompted the Dept of Ed legal rep on the call to promise an update/refresher correspondence to all the districts.

The 504 Plan was granted and I must say that I did have a moment after talking to the Dept of Ed where I wanted to shout "Power to the people...with Type 1!"

Resources that learned me everything:
Real life support from ADA.

The Law:
(I  used have a cool link for this but now it goes to a scary site with huge list of bills)
Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Congress also provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. 

Here are the sections of the The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 that apply to Roo:
   Sec.3 Definition of Disability
        (2) Major Life Activities -
             (A) In General  -  "...major life activities include, but are not limited to, ...learning, reading, concentration, thinking."
             (B) Major Bodily Functions. -  "...a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the....endocrine,...functions." 

        (4) RULES OF CONSTRUCTION REGARDING THE DEFINITION OF DISABILITY.—The definition of ‘disability’ in paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:
             (E)(i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as—
                 (I) medication,...


  1. Laura, I have not even read the whole post yet. It is like I am being rude and interrupting, but in slow mo. But THIS IS BRILLIANT! I can USE this! Every parent should bookmark this page.

    Like you, I'm dealing with a school that is nice to me. Unlike you, it has not occurred to me to stand up for my child above and beyond that niceness. Now I know how to be a functioning adult. Thank you.

  2. "Poor guys though. It's never fun to eat it." <--enjoyable!

    GO LAURA!!!

    1. I thought for a split second of not going for it because the school would have absolutely done (and do) everything to support the girls. But I knew there was something there that was being overlooked and I didn't like it. And WHAT IF? Ya know. I've seen a lot of horror stories of school not even letting kids test BG in the classroom, etc so I consider myself lucky. It was a really good learning experience and maybe will help some kid in the future.

  3. I just found your blog via Kerri Sparling (sixuntilme) and I want to congratulate you on your efforts. I have had T1 for 27 years, am a mom, and a special education teacher. I have had two different children with T1 in two schools I have worked in. One did not have any written accommodations (it was a private school) and the other had an IEP for a medical paraprofessional to be with her all day (she was just starting Kindergarten). I personally believe a 504 is the way to go and wish my mom had known about 504 plans when I was going through school! Good luck with everything!

    1. Thank you so much! It's so good to hear you say that. It's probably my negative Nelly but it seems that schools (NOT ALL!) don't want to bother if they can get a health plan.

  4. It sounds like they are confused between 504 and IDEA. Exactly how a non functional batch of beta cells is a minor issue is beyond me but then what do I know I only have two T1d kids too.

    Nice job of advocating for not only your kids but every other T1D kid that will come thorugh the school.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, they weren't really taking the learning part out of it. They still evaluated her LEARNING compared to her peers instead of receiving a fair and equal education compared to her peers. It can be confusing...even as I typed that sentence I was wondering if I had it right!