If you read THE LETTER then you know in order to follow up on my child’s 504 not being followed I needed to call a team meeting of the 504 team. So I requested a meeting and was surprised when the guidance department admin told me that the school principal would be joining the meeting.
Oh boy….I just got myself called into the Principals office.
I was a little apprehensive going into the meeting because the Principal didn’t know my child’s specifically and was concerned about his knowledge level of Twice Exceptional children and their needs. The meeting started with me explaining my concerns that led to the email I sent, and I reviewed the data I also sent as part of the letter. I explained I was confident we could move forward in a positive way for the remainder of the year (TIP – close on a positive)
The Principal then went there. He was concerned that there were too many specific accommodations in my child’s 504 plan (TIP – 504 plans can be very specific you do not need to accept cookie-cutter accommodations that fit neatly into school templates) I realize my child’s 504 is specific. I would rather help the school formulate a plan around his needs than give me overused accommodations like preferential seating near the teacher.
More concerning was the Principal’s assertion that since my child was “doing so well academically” he questioned the need for any 504 plan at all. I quickly wrote down his exact words in case I needed it later for my records (TIP – meeting minutes from 504 meetings often omit information, take you own notes and provide feedback on the meeting minutes sent to you from the school)
Oh, hardball. We were now going to play hardball. Game on.
I proceeded to reference two memos from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Any 2e parent need to be familiar with these memos the 2013 original memo can be found here and the follow-up from April 2015 can be found here. I outlined key parts in each memo that clearly state that children should not be denied special education services because of high scores on assessments and instead several measured must be used to determine eligibility for services. (TIP – if you are going into meetings without legal representation or an advocate always try to bring reference material from reputable sources. Including independent evaluations, state law, policy memos for US government agencies, and more. This helps to establish your viewpoint in conjunction with unbiased experts)
I concluded saying that we could focus on my concerns today, and if the Principal wanted to continue pursuing removal of the 504 plan I was open to doing that but would need to have an advocate here with me to represent my child’s interest (read here I would come back with a lawyer). The Principal decided to move on, and we spoke instead about my concerns and how we could get back on track with my child’s 504 plan.
The meeting ended well. We discussed and collaborated. I compromised as did the school. Did I like the tactics taken by the Principal? No. Instead of being offended I took his concerns from a Principal of over 1,000 middle school students who is overwhelmed by the volumes of special education cases and does not have enough resources. I took it as an opportunity to be firm but also educate the entire team on twice exceptional students.
You are your child’s best advocate. Never forget that.