Individualized Education Programs
To help keep your child safe at school and to secure your own peace of mind, be aware of the laws that exist to protect your child. If you know what to expect from the school staff, you can make sure everyone is operating on the same page.
There are three federal laws that address the schools’ responsibilities to help students with diabetes:
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
Section 504 prohibits those institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating against people on the basis of disability. This statute is solely about protecting civil rights, not providing funding. Under Section 504, schools must give children with special needs an equal opportunity to participate in academic, nonacademic, and extracurricular activities. They must also provide these children with free appropriate public education (FAPE).
FAPE is the provision of regular or special education, along with related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities in a way that is comparable to that of their peers without disabilities. A student does not have to receive special education services to receive related aids and services. Administering insulin or glucagon, allowing snacks, or checking blood sugar are all considered related aids and services.
The needs of these children can be spelled out in a Section 504 Plan, which is a written document that details a child’s special needs and explains the services and aids that are required to meet those needs. The Section 504 Plan is a way to work out potential problems before they arise. The creators of this plan are the parents and school representatives, whether that means the principal, the child’s teacher, the school nurse, and/or the school counselor. Not every school with take the time to identify students with special needs so parents should initiate this evaluation if they find it necessary.
Public and charter schools are covered under Section 504. The act also applies to private schools that directly receive any kind of federal funding, but not to private schools that only receive the benefit of federal funding (i.e. school lunch programs, anti-drug programs) but not the funds themselves. The requirements for private and some charter schools, however, are usually less stringent than for regular public schools. For more information, contact The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education, which is responsible for enforcing this act.
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