I had the 504 meeting with Michael's teachers yesterday after school, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. We got all the acommodations.
Ironically, the two teachers who didn't come to the meeting [Math and Science] are the ones where he has the lowest grades.
The meeting went well, and the folks there were quite cooperative and we worked out his acommodations quite easily. Since he has only one hand, he is to be allowed extra time on writing assignments, and extra help on manual tasks [like cutting things, doing experiments, typing on the computer, etc.] and a few other things.
If you are not familiar with it, the 504 law is important to know. There's an excellent website called Wrightslaw that provides lots of good information to parents and educators. Here is the 504 explanation:
"Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education. The child may receive accommodations and modifications."
I posted on Facebook yesterday and explained the importance of the 504 law, and got a comment that implied it would be allowing a child to get away with not knowing the material. That's absolutely false. Michael has to know the same material as all his classmates. The point it simply that he gets some accommodations to help him.
If you have only one hand, it takes longer to get dressed, and to pull things out of your locker, and to cut an onion. Science labs take longer. He can do everything, just not as quickly as a two handed child.
I didn't know until recently that my daughter's Central Auditory Processing Disorder meant she should have had a 504 plan in school.
When she was a sophomore, Alesia had a terrible math teacher, just dreadful. The woman refused to help Alesia understand, refused to help her, and the school, when I contacted them, said merely, "Your daughter will have to go to after school tutoring." I said "What good will that do, when it's the teacher who is incomprehensible to her doing the tutoring?!?" I got nowhere. I took her to tutoring. Didn't help. My daughter failed the class. She was upset and humiliated.She later dropped out of school.
IF she had had a 504 plan things would've been different. The school would have had to acommodate her disability, by moving her to a different class or assigning her a tutor, or something. I could have insisted they do the right thing.
The IEP has a lot less enforceability. However, sometimes the IEP is more appropriate. I can't explain all the reasons why - it's a complex topic.
Of course, it always helps to have a lawyer on your side...
A couple of years ago a friend of mine told me her daughter was making a D in that woman's math class. I was shocked. Her daughter was a straight A student. It was an honors class. The parents banded together and the teacher "retired early."
My attorney was discussing with me yesterday the fact that 504 plans are so important, and if your child is in private school they don't have to comply with a 504 or an IEP. So private school are not always better options. It depends on a lot of factors.
Of course, I got into a verbal back and forth with a friend last night on Facebook, because his child was in public school and treated horribly, and now the child has bloomed in private school. That's great. I know the child and parent and I am very glad he is having a better experience in school.
It's just that not all kids have access to a pricey private school education. Not everyone can even afford a lawyer. I am fortunate to know a lot of lawyers.
I wish wish wish I have been able to send Michael to a private school. I just couldn't afford it.
I am confident that with the help of my attorney, and the fact he's a good kid and seems to have caring teachers - hugely important - AND his 504 - that he will be OK this year.
A friend of mine on Facebook who has had a lot of experience with 504s and IEPs posted this, and I like her explanation:
An IEP and a 504 are different animals. It's not that either is more or less enforceable. A 504 is under ADA law. In the same way that ADA requires wheelchair ramps to provide "access", a 504 requires accommodations for children with disabilities to provide equal "access" to education. For example, extra time, assistive technology, etc. An IEP is an educational document that would provide additional/different educational methods to actually remediate the disability. For example, for APD, there are methods/therapies to actually improve the APD and to teach kids how to compensate. If they need different instructional methods, that's an IEP; if they just need accommodations, that's a 504.
Under a 504, you can ask for the school to provide assistive technology that might benefit your son. For instance, if typing takes longer, they could provide dictation software so he could speak instead of type. Or a tablet w/ handwriting recognition so that he can "write" and have the computer type for him.
Of course, he IS a teenager.
When I told him last night he'd better light a fire under his tail and get his Science and Math grades pulled up QUICK or he wouldn't be driving the car again anytime soon, he went from being in a real moody frame of mind, to doing HOMEWORK. Yep, at 8:30 at night.
I was pretty happy to see the transformation.
Then I noticed he had decided last night that it would be fun to pierce his own ear.
We had a lively discussion. I didn't scream or throw anything. I am getting better at this "parenting a teenager" thing. By the time I am a Jedi master at it..... he won't be a teen any more.