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September 29, 2003

School and Daycare

Question from Madison, Alabama, USA:

The public school my daughter is attending will not grant the 504 plan until she is given a test by the school system or if there is evidence of her having difficulty in her school work.


You may wish to download or send for a new publication, Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel. This guide was developed through a federally sponsored partnership of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 200 partner organizations, and its use is supported by many organizations, including National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National Association of State Boards of Education. The guide has the following to say on this issue:

Section 504 outlines a process for schools to use in determining whether a student has a disability and in determining what services a student with a disability needs. This evaluation process must be tailored individually, since each student is different and his or her needs will vary. Historically, students with diabetes have been covered by Section 504 and the ADA. Under Section 504, students with disabilities must be given an equal opportunity to participate in academic, nonacademic, and extracurricular activities. The regulations also require school districts to identify all students with disabilities and to provide them with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Under Section 504, FAPE is the provision of 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 non-disabled students are met.

However, a student does not have to receive special education services in order to receive related aids and services under Section 504. Administering insulin or glucagon, providing assistance in checking blood glucose levels, and allowing the student to eat snacks in school are a few examples of related aids and services that schools may have to provide for a particular student with diabetes. The most common practice is to include these related aids and services as well as any needed special education services in a written document, sometimes called a “Section 504 Plan.”

So to answer your question, your daughter does have the right to a 504 plan and does not need any testing. The healthcare plan is merely part of the process.

Additional comments from Crystal Jackson, Paralegal, Government Relations Department, ADA:

A student’s academic performance need not be adversely impacted in order to qualify for protection under Section 504. Individuals are protected if there is a disability (like diabetes) that adversely impacts a major life activity (such as metabolism, eating, caring for oneself, learning, etc.). Unfortunately, many schools confuse the requirements of 504 and IDEA and that may be the situation here. Download NDEP, along with the ADA’s summary of major federal laws that impact education and share them with school decision makers. Parent should also check for relevant state laws. Parent should contact school’s or school district’s 504 coordinator.