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Need Help at School?

Posted Sep 14 2009 12:00am

Having an 11 year old daughter with multiple special needs, I have encountered a few road blocks along the way as I pursue the best education the public school system offers. We live in a fantastic school district and have avoided many of the problems I’ve heard abou from other parents.

Right now we are having a problem with transportation issues. A child on the bus screams. SCREAMS at the top of his lungs. My Little Miss has a sensitivity to loud noises and is terrified of the bus since this screaming began.  I now drive her to and from school (12 miles each way).  The transportation department “has no options” for me at this time, but they are checking. My daughter’s teacher is wonderful and is working with the other student and offering suggestions to try so Little Miss can cope.

That’s all well and good if I don’t mind using a crane to lift my daughter into the bus as I am not strong enough to force her onto the bus (nor do I want to).  But there is an alternative:  The Section 504 Plan of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 covers qualified students (qualified means being at an age at which students without disabilities are provided education – so up through high school)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. Major life activities include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Sounds complicated, but basically means that if your child has special needs they are most likely protected under Section 504.

So now what?  I  did a google search using “School district 54″  and the words “Section 504 Plan” and I came up with our school district’s policy document about Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973.  It included the procedures (all I have to do is make a phone call) and the people to contact.

I called the transportation department this morning and they will get back to me in the next day or so.  I emailed my daughter’s teacher and she is working on helping to resolve the problem. By the end of this week I will know how much we can accomplish without involving the Section 504 Plan.

I’ll keep you posted.

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