Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 promises equal opportunity for Americans with disabilities. It guarantees full accommodation in federally funded programs and services. You can file a 504 Plan to arrange accommodation for your child’s gluten intolerance at public school.
Filing a 504 Plan to Protect Your Child
Medical documentation is required to qualify for special dietary accommodations in the National School Lunch Program. Specific details will vary by state, but the school will likely need:
1) Proof of your child’s celiac disease diagnosis
2) An explanation of why celiac disease restricts your child’s diet
3) A written statement regarding how celiac disease can negatively affect your child’s education
4) A list of foods to be omitted and substituted during meals and snacks
It must be made absolutely clear that not treating celiac disease with the gluten-free diet will adversely impact your child’s education.
What should my 504 plan look like?
A 504 plan must be broad in scope and cover all of your child’s possible needs. Accommodations to consider include:
1) Ensuring access to gluten-free food in the classroom and cafeteria
2) Excused absence from activities that use gluten-containing foods or materials
3) Preventing cross-contamination in the cafeteria (e.g. educating chefs)
4) Use of microwave to heat personal lunches
5) Bathroom privileges
6) Voiding mandatory participation in classes that require baking
I discussed accommodations with my child’s teacher. Should I still file a 504 plan?
Yes. A 504 plan is legally binding and ensures that your child remains protected even if he or she switches schools, teachers, or otherwise.