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02 Feb 2013 - 504 FAQs

What is a 504 Plan?
A 504 Plan is a set of accommodations to enable a child with special health care needs to fully and safely participate in school.

Why is it called a 504 Plan?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the civil rights law that states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance.  It guarantees equal access to an education, including individuals with disabilities.

But my child is not disabled, so why are they eligible for a 504 Plan?

Yes, Diabetes is considered a disability under the law because it limits one or more major life functions. It is considered a hidden disability because the physical or mental impairments are not easily apparent to others.

Why have a 504 Plan if we already have a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP)?

A Medical Management Plan or Individual Health Plan covers the medical aspect of diabetes, it is essentially a medical order.  A 504 Plan covers other accommodations that your child may need that are non-medical.    A 504 Plan will help to adapt policy to meet the needs of your child, for instance, a teacher may have the rule of "no bathroom passes" for their class.  If listed in your 504 Plan, your child will be allowed free access to the bathroom as required. 

Are a 504 and an IEP the same thing?
No. An IEP is an Individual Education Plan designed to accommodate students by providing educational services, most commonly it is used for students with learning disabilities.   Think of it as an academic intervention.
  A 504 plan "levels the playing field," so to speak, so that the student can pursue the same opportunities as other students, but in a safe environment. 


My child already has an IEP, do we also need a 504 Plan?
No.  An IEP is a 504 protection.  You will incorporate the new accommodations, as it applies to diabetes, into the IEP.

Where else would it benefit my child?

Having a 504 Plan in place will cover accommodations for not only during the school day but all school sponsored actives, such as extra-curricular (sports, clubs, dances etc.), field trips (including camps the class/grade may attend), and it is necessary to have in place in order to request accommodations for College Board testing (PSAT, ACT and SAT). 

How do I start the process of getting a 504 plan for my child?
All you have to do is ask for one.  The best way is to make your request in writing to your school's 504 Coordinator.  If you do not know who holds that position, address it to your principal.  You should not need to provide any medical documentation, as the school should already have the DMMP on file. 

What happens next?

 After they have received the written request, they have 30 days to put together the 504 Team and schedule a meeting.  The 504 Coordinator will contact you to coordinate an agreeable time and place for this meeting.  You will receive a written notice of the meeting and you should receive a copy of your rights under a 504.  It is very important that you attend this meeting, you are your child's advocate.  If you fail to show, they can decide on accommodations without you but you are necessary to implement the plan.

Who should attend the 504 meeting?
Who attends will depend on your school district.  Generally the team will consist of the parents, your child's teacher (or a team representative if in middle or high school), the school nurse, the principal, and the 504 coordinator.   

What do I need to bring to the meeting?
Bring your DMMP with you and a list of accommodations you would like included.  You can bring a pre-written plan, but some districts have their own form it will be transcribed to. 

Who writes the 504?
Essentially you do, which is why it is helpful to have one already written/figured out.  There are examples available in the T1P Downloads Section.


What should I include in my child's 504?
Anything that you feel is necessary for your child to be safe at school, as well as any accommodation he/she may need to get the full benefit from his/her education. Some examples of what you may want to include are:


  • Blood testing issues: Where they can test (when is covered in the DMMP) and how necessary response (i.e. insulin to correct a high).  Who will perform this task if child is unable to do so.
  • Classroom accommodations: extra time, homework modifications, testing parameters (regular and standardized), delaying the test without penalty, academic adjustments for classroom time missed for medical appointments, testing, or because of periods of high or low blood sugar etc.
  • Rule accommodations: can carry a backpack, eat in classroom, access to water, access to bathroom without restriction, allowing enough time to finish lunch, extra absences for medical appointments or sick days, etc.
  • Training: Who on staff is trained, what happens when there is a substitute, Staff training to recognize high and low blood sugar symptoms and how to respond, Glucagon training and administration, (Staff would include but is not limited to: teachers, office staff, lunchroom staff, coaches, bus drivers), etc.
  • Extra-curricular Activities: Full participation in all sports, extracurricular activities, and field trips, with the necessary assistance and/or supervision provided
  • Communication: Between parents, doctor, nurse, teachers, etc.

What can I expect at the meeting?

Generally you will go through your list of requested accommodations.  Be prepared to negotiate, it might be helpful for you to pre-label which are non-negotiable and which you can live without.  It is possible that the school may have a better suggestion or an accommodation that has worked well with another student.  Listen and be open to the suggestions, but if you don't agree, say so.   Emotions have the potential to run high, this is your baby you're discussing.  It is important to remain calm as best you can. 

If I am not satisfied with the results of the 504 plan, what do I do?
Do not sign it! It is not valid until all required parties sign. Negotiate what you can, but stand firm and be prepared to explain the things that you do not feel are negotiable.  If you cannot come to an agreement, reschedule the meeting so you can have time to think about it. 

How often do I need to update my child's 504 plan?
Once the 504 plan is signed, it is in place.  Plans are reviewed periodically, generally on a yearly basis, at the start of each school year. You can also request a review anytime you feel there needs to be change.

Are all schools required to adhere to Section 504?

 Yes.  All schools that receive any federal financial assistance must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  A 504 Plan is a legally binding agreement.


What if my school refuses to cooperate with my requests?
If your school denies you a 504 plan, or tells you that it is not necessary, remember that your child has the right, under federal law, to receive one. Crystal Jackson is the American Diabetes Association's Manager of Legal Advocacy. She can help you determine the appropriate steps to take in resolving this issue. She can be reached at (888) 342-2383 Ext. 2108. You may have to leave a message, but she will get back to you. 


What happens if we move to a new state or school district? 

 Students having a current 504 plan who transfer to another state or school district have access to accommodations specified in the current plan on file in their records.  The new school will schedule a 504 meeting within 30 school days of the student's enrollment.

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