Are you concerned about sending your child to school because of their food allergies? If so, you may want to look into a Section 504 Plan as a way to keep allergens from impacting your child’s education.
Section 504 refers to Title 34 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law prevents public institutions, including schools, from discriminating on the basis of disability. Within public schools, children may be protected under Section 504 if they have a physical or mental impairment. As defined by the law, severe food allergies fall under this designation. A child with a food allergy may be eligible for protection under Section 504 if their food allergy affects their respiratory, digestive, or cardiovascular system. If your child has ever suffered an anaphylactic reaction, then you understand the serious physical impairment caused by such reactions. Unlike other programs to accommodate disabilities, your child’s allergies need not affect their academic progress in order to qualify for accommodations under Section 504.
Under Section 504, children with disabilities are eligible for an individualized educational program, known as a 504 Plan. This lists any accommodations to be made by the school to keep your child safe from allergens. It might include precautions such as a peanut-free lunch table, or having all classmates wash their hands after lunch. Once the plan is in place, the school is required to provide the outlined accommodations or risk losing federal funding.
If you believe that your child should qualify for a 504 Plan, talk to your school district’s 504 coordinators. Your child will be evaluated to determine whether their allergy qualifies.