How a 504 Plan Benefits Parents and Students with Diabetes
If your child has diabetes, you want him or her to be safe while in school and to have the same educational opportunities as other children. Implementing a “504 Plan” can help set your mind at ease on both accounts.
The phrase “504 Plan” refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in all public and private schools that benefit from federal funding.
A 504 plan can also be set up under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which protects students with disabilities in all public and private schools, but not those governed by religious institutions. However, if the religious institution accepts federal funds, ADA rulings apply there as well.
An Ounce of Prevention
Every 504 plan should contain an assurance that there will be school staff members trained to recognize symptoms of hyper and hypoglycemia, and that they will respond to your child's need according to the directions set up in the student's Diabetes Medical Management Plan.
The American Diabetes Association has a downloadable Model 504 Plan for use or reference, and some school districts have developed their own 504 plan. Whatever template is used, your child’s plan will have to be adjusted to meet their specific needs. Because model plans are typically set up for children with type 1 diabetes, they need modification to benefit children with type 2 diabetes.
It is unwise to assume every school is prepared or equipped to care for students managing diabetes. Even if a school nurse is on staff, he or she may not always be on site. Parents are recommended to take a proactive approach and develop a working relationship with the school’s 504 team.
504 Plans for Diabetes
Most 504 plans for students with diabetes address the following:
- The training and identification of Trained Diabetes Personnel (TDP) who can test for glucose levels and interpret the readings, measure and administer insulin, and respond to a hypoglycemic crisis (e.g., use a glucagon kit).
- General staff training (teachers, bus drivers, coaches) for recognition of hyper or hypoglycemic events and what to do, plus a designated means of hallway transportation for students not feeling well.
- Accessible locations for glucose testing and insulin administration, plus continuous student access to bathrooms, water, food/sources of glucose (e.g., snacks), and school offices.
- Accommodations for school lessons and tests missed because of high or low blood sugar, and for absences related to diabetes symptoms and medical appointments.
- Accommodations and emergency supplies required for field trips, extracurricular activities, fire drills, or a school lock-down situation.
- A system in place for parental notifications, and substitute teacher notification.
- Students who are able to self-manage their illness have permission to do so anywhere, and anytime.
The 504 Plan is a tool to help students, parents, guardians, and school staff know their separate responsibilities for keeping the child with diabetes safe, and for safeguarding educational rights. It provides added peace of mind for all involved.
Sources: American Diabetes Association; The Diabetes Experience
Photo credit: Laurie Sullivan