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Homebound and extracurricular activities


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My daughter is currently on a 504 plan. She is homebound because of debilitating anxiety around school. Ironically she is a brilliant actor and singer and participates in the school theater productions. She just finished up Cinderella a few weeks ago (she played Cinderella!). (Acting is easy for her because they tell her what to say, when to say it, how to say it, where to move, etc. It’s predictable so it’s safe.) The next show is starting right after the holidays. The school is now trying to give me the line that “if she’s too anxious to come to school then she’s too anxious to participate in extra curricular activities.” They say if I don’t have her start at least half days in school then she cannot participate in the play. I’m arguing that they are literally taking away her only social opportunity as well as the only way I can actually get her into the building (which is a big step!).  I’m arguing that they are violating her rights under section 504 and ADA by treating her differently than her typical peers. I know that there have been lawsuits of this nature and the parents have won every case. Do I have a leg to stand on here? Is my argument justifiable? 
I will add that she is 100% eligible for an IEP but we haven’t moved there because she got so severe that we ended up on homebound. If 504 vs IEP makes a difference then that is an option.

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Ask them where it says that in IDEA.

For the most part, I would tend to agree with the school. If a child is too sick/fragile to attend school, then the argument is that they are too sick/fragile to attend any extra curriculars.

Your situation would be an exception.

Can you get them to add an IEP goal around this? With the theater activity as what is in place to achieve that goal?






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So the school got your permission to do an evaluation and decided via the eval that she is too anxious to participate in extracurriculars.  If this is the case, you can ask for an IEE at school expense since you (and I assume she sees a therapist) don't feel this is accurate.

Is this the IEP eval the school did?  Does she have goals on dealing with the anxiety in the IEP?  Is the school sending a therapist to your home to help with this?

IMO, they need a professional's report to say this.  Since she's on homebound, a professional had to be involved to make that happen.  Do they agree with the school on this?

If this is a line, I'd like to see something backing this up that a mental health professional signed.  What happened in the few weeks after Cinderella closed that she's gotten so much worse?

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You absolutely need to request an evaluation for an IEP due to school refusal and school related anxiety. Schools are not particularly adept at dealing with students in this situation. They may deny she needs an evaluation, they may evaluate but claim specialized education is not needed. If so you will need to request an independent educational evaluation. You will want to choose that outside neuropsych carefully. If it's possible for you to do so I would actually recommend consulting an educational attorney immediately. They can most likely help you to ensure they will allow her to stay involved with the theatre program while the IEP eval takes place. The lawyer can also steer you towards other appropriate services like an appropriate neuropsych and potentially a micro-school or other educational placement, counseling options, etc... My family recently went through something similar and my kiddo ended up being diagnosed with autism as a Jr. in high school. We would never have thought that was possible until high anxiety and depression caused school refusal last year. Best wishes...

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  • 3 months later...

We had this exact scenario with my daughter.  4 months of theater practice and they were not going to let her perform in the middle school musical because she wasn't at school that day.  And that was just the very beginning of her missing school. They said it was against Ed Code to allow a student to do an extra cirriculat if they did not attend school that day.  I told them they were beating a kid who was already down. I told them they were discriminating someone with a disability (She has OCD and anxiety.)  I had been asking the school for weeks for help because I knew things were ramping up.  Later, when I helped create her IEP I had that put in specifically in it so that this would not happen again. It says she will not be excluded from school events and extra curricular activities due to absences or grades related to her disability. When I brought it up the Special Ed director said she would have to talk to Legal. I was ready for a fight but didn't need to.  It was so important to me that my daughter would still be able to attend school functions and participate in things that she thrived on and showed her talent even if she wasn't attending her classes every day due to her OCD and anxiety. I hope you were able to work things out with your school!


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