Section 504 and 504 Plans at School
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, including T1D. The laws within this act declares a child with T1D has the right to go to school, play a sport, join a club, and do everything else that children without T1D do. It further states that public schools and other covered organizations must make “reasonable accommodations” for the child’s T1D.
A 504 Plan is a legal, written document specifying what “reasonable” modifications and accommodations the school must provide for a student with a disability. 504 Plans are a way for you to hold the school accountable for meeting your child’s needs while in the school’s care. Remember: this is a partnership you are building with your child’s school, and all parties play an important role in the 504 Plan process.
Download a sample 504 Plan (English).
Download a sample 504 Plan (Spanish).
School’s role in the 504 Plan process
It is the responsibility of the school and its personnel to have an understanding of T1D and be trained in its management and in the treatment of T1D emergencies. Knowledgeable, trained school personnel are essential to a student’s safety and physical well-being when dealing with immediate health risks of high or low blood sugar.
An individualized 504 Plan should be developed and signed by the school, the parent or guardian, and the child’s T1D management care team. The 504 Plan should address the specific needs of the child and provide specific instructions related to the following:
- Times/places for blood-glucose monitoring, including accommodations for testing and treating
- Ensuring that staff members are trained in checking blood-glucose levels, recognizing and treating high and low blood-glucose symptoms, and administering both insulin and glucagon
- Allowing the student to eat whenever and wherever necessary, including eating lunch at an appropriate time and allowing enough time to finish eating
- Allowing extra trips to the bathroom or water fountain
- Ensuring the student’s full participation in all sports, extracurricular activities and field trips, with the necessary care and/or supervision
- Permitting extra absences for medical appointments and sick days when necessary, without penalty
Parent’s role in the 504 Plan process
In addition to submitting a formal request for a 504 Plan and a cover letter to the school, a parent or guardian is responsible for providing the school with the following:
- All materials and equipment necessary for T1D care tasks, including blood glucose testing supplies and insulin administration (if needed). The parent is responsible for the maintenance of the equipment and must provide instructions to ensure the proper disposal of materials. A separate logbook should be kept at school for the staff or student to record blood glucose test results.
- Supplies to treat hypoglycemia, including a source of glucose and a glucagon emergency kit
- Information about T1D (see Helpful JDRF Printables at the bottom of this page)
- Emergency phone numbers for the parent and the student’s diabetes doctor (and staff) so that the school can contact these individuals with T1D-related questions or during emergencies
- Information about the student’s meal and snack schedule. The parent should work with the school to coordinate this schedule with that of the rest of the class as much as possible. For young children, instructions should be given for when food is provided during school parties and other activities.
Making a plan is important, and you and your child deserve one that works for you. Try to approach the situation with a sense of assertiveness and diplomacy, being as supportive as possible to the school personnel that will be with your child, while looking out for both your needs as a concerned parent and your child’s needs.