Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
What is it?
A civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Also, it prohibits retaliation for asserting the right not to be discriminated against. It is a legal document designed to ensure that students can manage their condition at school and receive the same education as other kids.
Which schools does Section 504 apply to?
Any school, private or public, that receives Federal financial assistance.
How do I set up a 504 plan?
Before speaking to the school you should as your child's doctor for a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP). A DMMP is a detailed plan of the Diabetes care your child will require at school. For example, the child's target blood glucose level and how often he/she will require glucose checks. Many pediatric endocrinologists have their own forms.
Next, talk to the school principal or school's appointed 504 coordinater to establish your child's eligability and then to set up a plan. You will meet a team of school officials, usually consisting of a principal or vice principal, 504 coordinator, guidance counselor, school nurse, school social worker, and the child's teachers.
Eligibility is determined by the school and their 504 team. They will determine which disability permits your child to receive services under Section 504. A letter from your child's pediatrician or doctor may be needed as proof.
What does the school have to do?
Public Elmentary and Secondary Schools must:
1. Identify children with disabilities
2. Provide 'free appropriate public education' (FAPE) to each child with a disability. This means providing regular or special education and related aids and services, designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met
3. Educate children with disabilities with other students as much as possible
4. Allow parents to participate meaningfully in decisions regarding their children.
5. Afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities
Preschool Education or Day Care Programs must:
1. Not exclude qualified students with disabilities; and
2. Take into account the needs of students with disabilities in determining the aid, benefits or services to be provided.
Post-secondary Institutions must:
1. Inform applicants of the availability of auxiliary aids, services, and academic adjustments, and the name of the person who coordinates the school's Section 504 program.
What should our plan include?
Each plan should indvidualized, however, there are several components to keep in mind:
1. Trained Diabetes Personnel: School nurses may not always be present. Make sure your child has personnel trained in Diabetes management. The plan should require a school nurse or trained personnel be available during school house, on field trips, and on any school related extracurricular activities.
2. Other Trained Staff: Anyone caring for your child (teachers, bus drivers, etc) during the day should have a basic understanding of Diabetes management and how to handle an emergency.
3. Needs and Abilities: The DMMP will guide the 504 team creating an outline of the child's self care abilities (independently injecting insulin, etc)
4. The Right to Carry: In order to avoid missing class time, if your child can managae their diabetes independently they should. The plan should identify that he or she can carry Diabetes supplies at all times. It is important to be specific, as some schools may consider needles to be weapons.
5. Tests and Injections: Your plan should ouline specifics of Diabetes care. When will glucose be checked? Who will give insulin?
6. Snacks: Children with diabetes should have access to food and drink if they have low sugar. The 504 plan should address hypoglycemia treatments as well as meals, snacks, and classsroom parties. This includes when a child should eat, whether you will supply carb counts, and if meals need to be verified by an adult.
7. Fitness: The 504 plan should gurantee kids with Diabetes are allowed to participate in gym class. Teachers should have fast-acting glucose available and be aware of signs/symptoms of high/low blood sugar.
8. Extracurricular Activities: Kids with diabetes should be anble to participate in before/after school activities (dances, sports) and field trips. Additionally, the plan should state the schools responsibility. A nurse or personnel trained in diabetes care should be available for the activities.
9. Education: All children are entitled to fair education. Because children can experience highs/lows in blood sugar the plan should stipulate that in the event that this occurs during an exam or test, the child can take the test at a later date. It can also specifiy that a student can take breaks as often as needed, to use bathroom, perform glucose checks, etc.
10. Communication: Parents should state how they would like to be informed about Diabetes care at school. Would you like the nurse/trained personnel to alert you when glocose is low? Would you prefer a weekly report?
Diabetes National Institute is first and foremost a growing campaign against diabetes and a community effort to enrich the lives of people with diabetes. Our mission is to provide free services and create a warm and supportive atmosphere where people with diabetes, their families, and the public can engage, learn, and build a greater understanding of diabetes.
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