Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The law also prohibits retaliation for asserting the right not to be discriminated against. Section 504 applies to all public schools and to private schools that receive federal financial assistance.
To be protected by Section 504, the student must have a disability defined as:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of major life activities;
- A record of such an impairment, or
- Be regarded as having such an impairment.
Under this law schools are required to identify children with disabilities and provide a “free appropriate public education” to each child with a disability. This means children may receive regular classroom education or be provided with assistive aids and services to meet their specific disability needs.
The law also affords children with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities.
Section 504 provides the following rights to parents or guardian:
- To have their child assessed under Section 504.
- To hold an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 meeting with school district personnel and be supported by an advocate, attorney, and/or experts, if desired, to better explain the child’s diabetes management.
- To develop an IEP or a Section 504 plan that specifically states the child’s needs and the services required to meet these needs.
- To be notified of and approve any proposed changes in the child’s plan, or to attend any meetings concerning proposed changes.
The best way to ensure that diabetes needs are met in a way that maximizes safety, health, learning and participation is to develop a written care plan.