Back to Diabetes at School The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes

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The Laws

The right of children with diabetes to care for their diabetes at school is based on the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA). These laws provide protection against discrimination for children with disabilities, including diabetes, in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This includes all public schools and day care centers and those private schools and centers that receive federal funds.

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the differences between a 504 and and Individualized Education Plan (IEP). To put it simply, a 504 plan is plan designed to deal with medical issues, such as diabetes, while an IEP is a plan designed to deal with educational challenges or special needs that need not be related to a medical treatment plan. A 504 would contain instructions, for example, for blood glucose monitoring, while an IEP would include instructions for additional reading education, should it be needed. Children with diabetes use a 504 plan for accommodations related to diabetes and need not have an IEP unless they have special academic needs.

What this Means

Any educational facility, school or daycare center, which receives federal funding cannot discriminate in the admission, educational process, or treatment of a student who has diabetes. Provided that the presence of diabetes has been disclosed and verified, and that the student/parents have requested reasonable accommodations, the educational facility is required by law to make the approved modifications which allow the child with diabetes to fully participate and benefit from all school activities and programs.

The student/parents are not required to assume responsibility for the provision of needed accommodations. However, the school can refuse to grant a request for an accommodation that is not specifically documented. School personnel do not have the right to confidential medical information. They need only to know what needs to be done to guarantee equal opportunity for the student. Any individual member of school staff who fails to comply with the approved medical and education plan can be held personally liable.


What to include in a 504 Plan

  1. Medication procedures and dosages (e.g. insulin administration prior to meals, etc.) You will want to note if your child is capable of deciding that amount to be given or provide an alternative such as calling a parent or using a chart to determine amount to be given.
  2. Blood glucose testing procedures (when where, etc.). The school does have the right to not allow blood glucose testing in the classroom. However, if you can demonstrate that this procedure will not endanger others (i.e., materials will be disposed of at home and not at school), your school may allow the child to check in a secure area in the classroom.
  3. Procedures for treatment of hyper and hypoglycemia.
  4. Precautions to be taken before physical activity.
  5. Guidelines for meals, snack, special treats, and parties.
  6. Contact information for medical assistance (as needed) and parents.

Download a Sample 504 Plan

See our section on sample 504 plans.

What to include in an IEP

  1. The need for repeat of information. Sometimes, if a child has had an insulin reaction or extremely high blood sugar, that child may not be able to concentrate and need additional assistance.
  2. The child with diabetes may need to be allowed to take make-up tests if that student has had an insulin reaction or severe hyperglycemia during an exam.
  3. Flexibility in attendance requirements in case of health-related absences including physician visits (e.g., allowing students to be on honor roll and qualify for awards, etc).
  4. Permission to leave class to use restroom as needed.
  5. Provision of adequate time for taking medication, checking blood sugars, and completing meals and snacks.
  6. Access to increased fluid intake as needed.

For More Information

Updated August 4, 2014

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