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Medical excuse-how far can school push?


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I need help in understanding what is all involved with a medical excuse from school. My son is currently waiting for the Igenex WB results. We are pretty sure he is dealing with lyme, maybe bart also. He has missed the whole first month of school so far and I have a medical note explaining all this. The school keeps pushing us to get him in to school. I am confused because I thought the medical note explained all this and is excusing him from school temporarily? I have picked up work from his teachers and he has pulled things off their online school program. I have also returned the work he has finished, so they at least have some stuff to grade him on. This is just a temporary thing until we know what we are dealing with and how to treat it. Why are they pushing and what are our rights?


We are in Pennsylvania



Edited by lindamw
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Communication is key. The next time they ask - ask them what info they need and try to get it in writing. Communicate that you will relay their request to your doctor. Keep the school posted to the degree that you feel comfortable. (Like some parents maybe be vague about bimed for example.

Unfortunately many schools may look at his issue as strictly a behavioral issue or only see the behavior piece of it and want the student in school so they do not become to far gone. Make sure your Dr characterize it otherwise in writing specifically using medical terms and excluding behavior from consideration. If for example he can attend some school or online school maybe he can get a modified schedule.

Suggest you post your state (where you live) so members who know the rules in your area can chime in.

Take care, E

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Hi Linda- I am sorry you are going through this. We have been down a difficult road with both of my daughter's schools. I agree communication is key. But I will tell you schools WILL push you if you are not protected. Our school's "doctor" (a local ped that consults with school) outright rejected doctors notes (from top NYC doctors that are way out of her league). We ended up needing to hire an attorney- mainly to deal with the HS.


I suggest that you ask your doctor to write a letter to the school for you. I suggest the doctor requests a 504 plan for you child, and includes a list of accommodations. We got this accomplished with our attorney- but you should be able to do on your own. Our kids main issue with pandas is difficulty with school attendance during a pandas flare. When not in a flare, they are straight A, well behaved, and attend all the time. The school still could not make the effort to help us with this, instead were very confrontational. Getting the attorney on board changed everything. I think before you get too far down the path and need an attorney, get a 504 plan.


Our attorney basically brainstormed accommodations, and wrote the letter for our doc, then the doc made minor changes and put on his letterhead and sent to school.


PM me your email, and I can send you a list of accommodations to get you started.

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The school is legally required to provide your son with a "Free and Appropriate Education" (known as FRAPE). If he isn't in attendance and you don't have a medical 504 plan (which requires a letter from your doctor providing a reason for absences as well as a description of what accommodations your son needs), then the school will keep pushing you to get your child into school. Technically, they could get confrontational and do a home visit to check on your son's well-being. In some cases, this could involve a DCF case worker (who is often accompanied by a police officer to prevent confrontation but also serves to intimidate parents). Without proper medical documentation, you can be accused of truancy.


Not trying to scare you - but both DCMom and I are old timers and have had our share of 504 meetings - some helpful, some awful. In general, when you are getting your child into the building, schools tend to be cooperative. But when you can't deliver your child to them, then they get nasty very quickly. A medical 504 letter can say your child is unable to attend school - in which case the school is legally required to provide tutoring to the child's home. This costs money, and schools tend to fight this tooth and nail. Often, they'll reject your doctor's letter and require your child to see "their" doctor for a "second opinion". If this second doctor says there's no reason your child can't attend school, then you become responsible for a truancy issue. And even if you are able to get home tutoring, it's only one hour per day - not exactly what's in your child's best interest.


We found ourselves in a contentious situation with my daughter, who would go to school feeling great on a Monday and be home sick by mid-week - for months. Our integrative doctor finally did blood work that showed mold exposure. Since she was getting sick in school, the school became far less cooperative as time went on. We limped thru 6 months of last year. But when my daughter started school healthy on Sept 1 and had missed 7 of the first 13 days of school this year, we withdrew her and are now homeschooling.


If you have the funds, consult an advocate. It will probably save you a lot of grief in the long run. Definitely PM DCMom if you haven't already. Arm yourself with knowledge. The school will keep pushing.

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