504 Plans And Discrimination: Understanding When Your Child's Rights Are In Jeopardy

Law Articles

When it comes to discrimination, most people's thoughts are immediately drawn to the concepts of race and gender. Both racism and sexism are hot-button issues in society today, and rarely a day goes past without news programs airing stories about discrimination in our culture. Unfortunately, discrimination against people with disabilities is a much less well-known issue.

If your child has a disability, they are protected against discrimination by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This means that if your student is otherwise qualified to receive a service or to participate in an activity, their disability cannot prevent them from doing so. For parents, this is a much-needed guarantee that their child will receive the educational experience that they should.

This is done in the form of a 504 plan. These plans outline exactly what the school must provide in order to guarantee that your child is served properly. However, these plans are not always followed by educators. As a parent and advocate, it's important that you are aware of the signs that your child's plan is not being followed. For the uninitiated, this is difficult. Fortunately, the red flags are clear if you know what to look for.

Red Flag #1--Homework Takes Longer Than Ever Before

It's a general rule of thumb that your child's homework demands will increase as they grow older. The general rule of thumb is that students should have 10 minutes of homework for each year of school they've completed. Of course, some students work faster than others--this number will vary by child and by school.

However, many 504 plans talk about breaking up homework into manageable pieces or giving students extended time to complete tasks. When these factors aren't being met by the school, the result is a severe homework burden for your child. If you think your child's homework amount has changed significantly, it's a good idea to check into this with their school counselor or an administrator.

Red Flag #2--Severe Drop In Test Scores

Some classes are just difficult courses. It's not uncommon for your child--particularly in high school--to encounter classes that are a real problem for them. That said, most students tend to find ways to achieve at a level in line with their historical performance in spite of a change in course difficulty.

When tests start coming back with grades that are severely low, it's possible that their accommodations aren't being followed. Many 504 plans include alternate settings or extended time for exams--alterations which many teachers do not enjoy providing. Don't hesitate to contact your child's teacher directly if this happens and verify that your child's plan is being followed on test day.

Red Flag #3--Your Child Is Angry

Any disability is difficult to deal with in a school setting. Fortunately, 504 plans allow your child to learn under a framework where they can be successful. When this is working as intended, the result is a child who is, at the very least, tolerant of attending school and putting forth effort.

If this framework of accommodations is taken away from your child, their coping strategies no longer work. Instead of feeling that school is a comfortable place where they have a reasonable expectation of thriving, their life becomes difficult. They feel out of touch with their peers, and their self-esteem can suffer. If your child begins to come home from school angry, it's important to follow up right away. Every day you put it off, your child could be learning that school isn't a place for them.

While these red flags are important to notice, they are often just the tip of the iceberg. If you find yourself following up on any of these--or other issues--and not getting the answers you deserve, contact a licensed civil rights attorney, like Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., right away. They can help to ensure that your child receives the education to which they are legally entitled.


17 March 2016

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.