May XXXX

XXX, Chief Transformation Officer

XXX, Executive Director of ESE

Pinellas County Public Schools

 

Dear Pinellas County Schools,

Re: Letter Appeal of Suspension and Impartial Hearing

We are writing to you regarding the recent disciplinary review of our child, Cal, which resulted in a level 1 consequence. We have received Dr. XXX report and are now requesting a level 2 review by a Regional Superintendent or Designee, in accordance with Cal’s rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of XXX.

We want to be clear that our request is not a challenge to your authority or judgement, but rather a plea to recognize and accommodate Cal’s disability in accordance with the law. It appears that the school staff may not fully understand how Cal’s use of two drumsticks is not an impulsive act that violates school policy, but rather a manifestation of his disability under Section 504.

We believe that the failure to provide us with reasonable notice of Cal’s manifestation determination meeting deprived us of an opportunity to prepare and present important information about his recent mental health status and its impact on his education. Had we been given adequate notice, we could have been valuable members of Cal’s 504 Committee meeting, and provided a more accurate explanation of how his impulsivity manifests in relation to his drumming.

Cal’s current 504 plan, dated November XXX, documents that his ADHD impacts him in the areas of learning, working, thinking, concentration, and communication. He is entitled to certain accommodations, such as preferential seating based on activity and seating near peers he gets along with and who are on task. We strongly believe that these accommodations are necessary to ensure that Cal has equal access to education and the opportunity to succeed.

As an accomplished drummer, Cal is trained to think in terms of repetition and to perform movements with both hands simultaneously. Therefore, the act of throwing a drumstick is perceived as a singular act, rather than two distinct actions. Furthermore, it is crucial to note that Cal’s impulsivity, which is a symptom of his disability, played a significant role in the incident. We urge you to consider Cal’s disability and related symptoms when assessing his behavior and determining appropriate disciplinary action.

At the manifestation meeting, we believe that the district failed to comply with the Section 504 regulations regarding the manifestation determination. According to a memorandum to chief state school officers, parents must be given an opportunity to provide input into the manifestation determination, as persons uniquely knowledgeable about their child’s disability. Given the circumstances of Cal’s situation, we maintain that this review was not conducted in compliance with this regulation.

We would like to remind you that Cal’s parents have stated that school personnel have at times felt as if they had given up on Cal or were tired of working with him. On May XXX, we formally requested an IDEA evaluation for an additional suspected disability, as alluded to by some staff. We are still waiting for the next steps to be taken in this regard.

In light of the above, we respectfully request that Cal’s Section 504 protection and due process rights be upheld. To resolve this matter quickly and avoid the need for an impartial hearing or filing a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, we request the following:

  1. A designee with experience in working with students with a disability review the disciplinary consequence as well as conduct a new manifestation determination meeting with fidelity.
  2. We also request an IDEA evaluation for an additional suspected disability.

We hope for a prompt response and a collaborative effort to ensure that Cal’s rights are protected and upheld. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Respectfully,

XXX

XXX Educational Consultant and Associates, Inc.

XXX

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