Getting Students with GI Issues and Their Teachers for Back to School

504 plan

As parents around the country are getting their children ready for the upcoming school year, either in a classroom setting or via e-learning, it's imperative to make the necessary arrangements for students who are suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. Preparation efforts include meeting with your student's school administration to ensure they're familiar with the gastrointestinal concerns affecting your student. Taking preparatory steps ahead of the new year also creates the occasion to begin a 504 plan for your child.

What does a 504 plan do for students?

Part of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 was designed to preserve the rights of people with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial help from the U.S. Department of Education. Under this law, a school district has to allow for a FAPE ("free appropriate public education") to all eligible students with a handicap in the school district's domain, no matter the kind or severity of the impairment.

Section 504 only applies to public educational establishments and other entities that get federal financial support; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides coverage of Section 504 to all local and state entities, which includes non-public schools, irrespective of whether they receive financial assistance from the federal government. Furthermore, Section 504 encompasses nonacademic-based (lunch, assemblies, and recess), after-school, and academic programs. Therefore, a 504 plan ensures all students have equivalent opportunities for education and activities, despite any qualifying impairment.

Tips for establishing a Section 504 plan for your student

Long-term digestive issues can be difficult for children to manage throughout the school day, making it imperative that the school's administrative team is aware of your child's diagnosis. Creating a 504 plan enables teachers to be alert and appropriately equipped in the event that your child is out of school for a number of days or modifies when they arrive at and leave school on account of their GI-related condition.

  • The beginning step in creating a 504 plan is to put together the necessary documentation surrounding your child’s needs and disability. This includes any type of written information or documentation that describes your student's handicap and associated accommodation request, like health assessments, evaluations, records, and other medical-related information. Furthermore, you may wish to compile any academic reports or other forms of school assessments of paperwork that may further outline your child's needs.

  • Next, it is time to draw up and send a formal request or correspondence regarding the plan to the administrative team at the school, specifically to the person in charge of the 504 plans. In many cases, this is also the staff member who manages IEPs (Individual Education Plans), which are specific educational plans created especially for a student who has a disability. This correspondence should explain the type of health diagnosis and any relevant accommodations your student may have in relation to their GI condition. It should also include the variety of circumstances they could face throughout the school day and the requested actions should those scenarios occur.

  • Once you have supplied this information to your child's school administrative staff, the 504 plan evaluation proceedings will start. To complete this process, the school administrators will review the documentation you offered, such as health records, previous classwork, evaluations, and other types of information. The school administrative team might also request conferences with you, your child, your child's teacher, or other administrative staff in accordance with the 504 plan evaluation process.

  • After the 504 plan evaluation proceedings are complete, the school administrative staff will likely set up a meeting with you and your student to determine their eligibility. Guardians may also ask to set up a conference at this stage in the process as well. If your student does not qualify for a 504 plan or you feel as though the plan does not fully meet your child's needs, you could consider a dispute resolution approach. In the event your student does qualify for a Section 504 plan, you will partner with the admin team at the school to develop your child's custom plan.

Gastrointestinal issues can cause a range of challenges for school-aged kids. However, a 504 plan can help ensure their needs are met. At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our skilled GI specialists are committed to helping families improve the wellness of their children. To receive care for GI problems, call our New Orleans, LA gastrointestinal doctors today.