It's Time for a 504 Plan
I am a completely functional human being. I wake up every morning, get washed and dressed. I have my breakfast and then go to work. I am a lucky person that I do have a job. I can’t complain. I am also lucky that my principal has put me in a classroom that is right next to the men’s faculty rest room. I literally have to walk fifteen steps and I am there.
Did my principal have to put me right next to the bathroom? Nope!
She has no obligation. I did speak to her last year, explained my situation. Of course she did everything she could to accommodate me. She didn’t have to, and I thank her for doing that.
I read a lot of articles from various schools inside and outside the district I work in. I notice that teachers are getting discipline write-ups for being late to meetings, stepping out of the classroom etc. And I agree, its very unprofessional to be late to time sensitive events. I also agree that teachers should be held accountable. If we expect our students to turn things in on time, and not be tardy to school, then we should be held to the same standard. That being said, sometimes I am late to meetings. There was one time that I was late to work, because of my Crohn’s. So what do I do? I started to do some research.
I looked into my teacher’s contract through my school district.
There's something called a “504 plan.”
After doing some research, I realized that it is more common than I thought.
Essentially, a 504 plan is accommodation needed for a person to be able to perform at the same level as his or her own peers.
It is very common amongst students, and goes the same way for teachers. I decided to meet with my principal to talk about next steps.
A few weeks ago, I set up a meeting with my principal to discuss how I go about getting a 504 plan. I started the conversation by praising her. I explained that she has never made me feel uncomfortable, nor has she taken any disciplinary actions when I am late to meetings because of the restrooms. She did go on to say that in order to keep honoring my request to be next to the bathroom, and other accommodations, then I would have to get a 504.
She was right, because what happens if I have a new administrator throughout my career? They might not be as understanding. I also struggle to get through my day; lots of time waiting three to four hours before I can use the bathroom. That is only because I can’t leave my students alone in my classroom. If I get a 504 plan, I can have it that somebody must stop by my classroom at least twice a day to make sure I can go relieve myself.
I know it sounds weird, but its good to have something legal in the workplace.
I reached out to a colleague who has a condition that requires a 504 plan. She said, “It’s the best thing that has happened to me. I feel I can come to work, be myself and not get in trouble for something I cannot control." She sold the 504 to me. I will be contacting the school district as well as my union after I return from the holiday weekend. I will keep everybody up to date about my process. We should be able to live our lives as normal as anybody else. Don’t let Crohn’s keep you down! Represent!
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