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Seeking recommendations for 504 Attorney in NYC

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by bellows, Jun 6, 2017.

  1. bellows

    bellows Approved members

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    Hi, we've sucessfully navigated preschool and kindergarten accomodations using all the great resources on the ADA website, etc. However, my daughter is starting 1st grade next year, and I know exactly how far I can get with setting up a 504 plan and having the school follow it, and it's time to engage an attorney to help finalize the 504 plan. She'll likely stay at this next school through 8th grade at least, and I want to get it right.

    I reached out to a few attorneys I found online, and sent a note to the ADA (whose advocacy program was very helpful when we needed advice at the beginning). Our local JDRF chapter has not been very helpful in the past, but I'll try asking them too.

    But I thought I'd reach out here and see if anybody has any recommendations, or knows of anyone. Thanks!
     
  2. barbiduleny

    barbiduleny Approved members

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    Funny: we are in the same exact situation as you are, our son is entering 1st grade next year (in Brooklyn) and we really need to make sure to get our 504 buttoned up (i've heard horror stories) and avoid some of the pitfalls of the bureaucracy.
    We had a wonderful experience in a small private school in K this past year, alas, this can't last and we are going to public next year.
    I have a few requests out to friends on specialized lawyers in NYC, I will definitely post back once I hear more, but would also love to hear what you find.
     
  3. susanlindstrom16

    susanlindstrom16 Approved members

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    So is it typical to involve an attorney when setting up a 504 in NYC, even if there have been no previous issues?
    I just ask because I set up my daughter's with the team from the school and it was a relatively straightforward process. We are in VA though so I'm not sure if its different from state to state.
     
  4. barbiduleny

    barbiduleny Approved members

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    Not sure if it's typical, but i have heard stories from other parents over the years on difficulties securing a para, dealing with a revolving staff in the nurse office, how meals are managed etc... Some people have great experiences in the public system, some others not so much. It's a bit of a lottery and our goal re: Lawyer is to make sure we are equipped to be the best advocates for our son when dealing with the school administration.
     
  5. kim5798

    kim5798 Approved members

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    Can't help but think going in straightaway with an attorney might make your child labeled a "problem" from the outset. Might just be me. We used a private school for most of our daughter's education, then she went to a public charter school for the last couple years of high school. We had a few minor issues over the years, but they were fairly easy to resolve with a cooperative approach.
     
  6. Cheetah-cub

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    I feel the same way as you. Here in CA, bring in lawyers is the last resort, and thankfully rare, as this usually involves a serious issue that a school refuse to accommodate. Most schools already have students with medical conditions there, and might have experience and 504 plans in place that work with families.

    When my daughter was first diagnosed in 5th grade, she was in a public school. The school nurse, office staff, and teachers were all wonderful to us. Our nurse offered us a 504 plan, but I never bothered to get one done, because we discussed what our needs were for that time, and they met our needs.

    My daughter is now in a private school, so there isn't a 504 plan. We had one minor issue to work around, otherwise, the office staff, all her teachers, and extra activities staff were all incredibly accommodating and easy to work with. I too recommend start with a cooperative approach first, you might be pleasantly surprised, and save yourself some money and a lot of stress.
     
  7. hawkeyegirl

    hawkeyegirl Approved members

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    Yeah, I wouldn't go in there all guns-a-blazing with an attorney before you know that there's a problem. (And I'm an attorney.) Really, a lot of this is figuring out what works with your child's particular teacher, their class schedule for that year, the distance between their classroom and the nurse, your child's willingness/ability to do some self-management, etc. Your child shouldn't need their own para unless they have other issues, and I'm of the (legal) opinion that a 1-on-1 is not a reasonable accommodation under the law for a child with T1.

    Meet with them and see how it goes. You may be pleasantly surprised.
     
  8. bellows

    bellows Approved members

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    Eh, 1 on 1 para is actually the standard in NYC, due to various DOE and state regulations about what school staff can and cannot do In fact, the enocrinologist writes a letter with all the standard accomodations, and thats one of them--usually through about 2d grade. It's also totally normal to have an attorney at a 504 meeting. Not "guns a blazing".

    You do what works for you, I am looking for attorney recommendations, since I have in fact done this before and I know how far I can get. And since we need to have the 504 in place before the school year, and all the DOE staff vanish once the school year ends, time is something of the essence.

    So, if anybody reading this forum has any suggestions along those lines, that would be great.
     
  9. Snowflake

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    I hope you get an attorney rec and it sounds like you know what you need. If you had a para in kindergarten, I would think the district's concession on that point would help you get the same in first grade (unless there's something substantially different about staffing in the new school).

    But wow, I'm still struck by how you describe the larger context -- a 1-on-1 para is the standard in NYC, and it's normal to start with attorney representation? At our local public school, my first grader's care is handled by the front-office assistant, who doubles as health aide with responsibility for about 20 kids with various medication needs. My only complaint about this is that care largely happens in the office, but I feel like her T1D health needs are well-addressed this way. It sounds like NY needs to modernize its regulations, not to mention make the 504 process easier for parents! Good luck!
     
  10. rgcainmd

    rgcainmd Approved members

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    I highly recommend not becoming litigious until/if it becomes necessary. Use all the resources at your disposal first. One can force their child's school to do the right thing, but nicely persuading them is the preferable option. Because if involving an attorney becomes necessary, school officials have ways of retaliating that you may have no way to fight against.
     
  11. barbiduleny

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    I don't think hiring a lawyer necessarily becoming litigious and threatening: for me, it's about understanding our rights, making sure we know what the current policies and processes are, communicate clearly to the team what we need and want for our kid within the current DOE framework.

    We were in a small private school this past year, and it was wonderful: no 504, we put together an informal plan and trained the teachers who were looking after my son and we adapted our plan as the year progressed, always had direct access to the teachers and had the ability to guide treatment decisions pretty close to real-time. We were spoiled.

    The DOE in NY is a very big machine and I know for a fact we won't get that flexibility:
    - It is current SOP to have a Para assigned in 1st and 2d grade from all the info i've gathered. starting in 3rd grade, is hit or miss, mostly miss.
    - the para and teachers are not allowed to provide treatment (insulin *and* juice) only the nurse is. You can save many trips to the nurse office by tweaking the 504 (eg so you can have the para give juice)

    Let me state that i understand why things are done differently and that more rigidity is necessary. But that's where knowledge of the current system and how far you can push it is important and a lawyer can be helpful.
     
  12. hawkeyegirl

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    Well, okay then. I have zero doubt that coming in with a lawyer does come off litigious and threatening in, well, all situations, but you do you. Good luck.

    I also wish that Illinois had the school budget that NY apparently has. A one-on-one para is STANDARD for early elementary kids with D? Good lord. They clearly have money to burn. Most of our districts don't even have full-time nurses.
     
  13. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    Unfortunately we have had to use attorneys in Illinois and now in our new state of Florida. In IL, the ADA assigned us one of their attorneys because the district did not understand what a 504 was for (they used it as an IEP). The situation was resolved after one meeting.

    In FL my son had a life threatening situation caused directly from not complying to the 504 and we have an attorney with Disability Rights Florida. This is our first year in Fl and we tried to "play nice" and unfortunately it almost cost my son his life. If you feel like your district will not comply to a reasonable 504, by all means seek legal advice. If they ARE accommodating, then thank them profusely, because that is not always the case!!
     
  14. Ali

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    Sorry BrendaK. I do not check in on this site regularly but do not believe you post much anymore, so sad to hear Florida has been complicated but glad to see the post.
     
  15. bellows

    bellows Approved members

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    I ended up using an attorney suggested by the ADA, and it was perfectly cordial, and not at all litigious and threatening. Attorneys don't have to come off that way; it can be helpful to everyone at the table to have someone who's an expert in 504 law and who has also done these kinds of negotiations in other situations to help guide the conversation.

    The situation with the one-on-one para is necessitated by a panoply of union rules and other laws, plus the obligation to provide 504 accommodations. I don't think it's that they have money to burn, not at all, but a case of unintended consequences. For instance, NY State law says that only nurses can administer insulin and other medications. So, public schools must have nurses. School staff other than medical paraprofessionals are not permitted to oversee health issues, so until the child can take care of themselves entirely, they have to have their own paraprofessional. It's not a question of having money to burn, but that regulations which are in place to protect other interests end up having an unintended cost impact, and evidently, there's nobody really looking at the whole picture.
     
  16. Snowflake

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    I'm glad to hear that this ended up well for you. I practice law, and I try to avoid my fellow attorneys in my private life! :) It's good to hear that the process was relatively painless for you.

    Regarding union rules and state laws on medication administration: it doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't. The ADA and T1 community fought an epic battle against similar rules in California, under which only district health staff could administer insulin. At least, that was how some school districts and teachers and nurses' unions interpreted state law. This had the practical effect of depriving some kids of their ADA/504 rights because not every district was flush enough to staff those regulations. The California Supreme Court ruled for the Type 1 families, and joined the modern era by allowing non-health staff to administer insulin: http://health.wolterskluwerlb.com/2...inister-insulin-to-california-schoolchildren/ I hope advocacy organizations in other states pick up the banner!
     
  17. kim5798

    kim5798 Approved members

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    I guess my difficulty in understanding is that if it is standard to have the 1-1 para, why was/is a lawyer necessary? Usually a lawyer is used to push the issue when they push back...not when it is the standard.
     

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