How do I get one? Do I even need one?
When you hear other allergy parents and professionals talk about 504 plans for food allergies you may think that those are for children with disabilities. True, the 504 is referring to federal civil rights law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which among other things provides you the right to have the individual needs of your child to participate in all school activities equally and safely.
Section 504 defines a disability as having an impairment or has a history of having an impairment to one or more major life activities; such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
A Section 504 plan protects the child and school; the resulting document will outline a written care plan outlining how the school will address the individual needs of your child. The plan should be very specific on how your child will be able to participate in all school activities safely. Including school-sponsored events such as after-school activities, school dances, and PTO/PTA sponsored events.
Keep in mind that no child has the same needs, so there is no template for a 504 plan. Your school or district may have a form they need you to fill out and their process they prefer you to use, but they will not have boxes to check for accommodations.
Where do I start?
Do everything in writing.
Email your school’s principal; ask who the 504 coordinator is for the school and contact them right away for a meeting. It will be someone who either works at the school or in the district so it may take a few weeks to get a meeting. Ask if there are any forms or records, they need to be filled out before the first meeting. Having everything ready will move the process along faster.
It is common for the school to require a letter from the child’s physician confirming what they are allergic to. They also may request documentation of past reactions. Past reactions are not predictions or future reactions.
The 504 coordinator puts together a team to determine if your child qualifies for protection under Section 504. The team usually consists of the child’s teacher(s), the school nurse, counselor, principal and may also include food service personnel, after coaches or activity supervisors, and anyone else who regularly is part of your child’s day.
Contact us today to help guide you through the process and overcome any hurdles you encounter.