Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

No otherwise qualified individual with [diabetes] in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of . . . [diabetes], be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

What is Section 504?

Section 504 is 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.

Who is covered?

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.

Does Section 504 apply to all schools?

Section 504 applies to all public schools and to private schools that receive federal financial assistance.

What must schools provide?

Public Elementary and Secondary Schools must:

  • Identify children with disabilities
  • Provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each child with a disability. This means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met
  • Educate children with disabilities with other students as much as possible
  • Allow parents/guardians to participate meaningfully in decisions regarding their children
  • Afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities

Section 504 Plans

Covered schools are required to provide needed aids and services in order to allow students with disabilities to receive an education that is comparable to that provided to students without disabilities. Parents/guardians should document this accommodation in a Section 504 Plan.

What should be in a Section 504 Plan?

Each child with diabetes will have his or her own needs and a Section 504 Plan must be individually developed to address those needs. However, all plans should include assurance that there are staff members trained to recognize hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and to respond in accordance with the directions in the child's Diabetes Medical Management Plan.

View a Model Section 504 Plan for a student with diabetes.

Other typical accommodations included in Section 504 Plan

  • Assuring that there is staff trained to check blood glucose levels and administer insulin and glucagon.
  • Assuring that any staff member with immediate custodial care of the child is trained to recognize high and low blood sugar levels and knows what he or she is supposed to do in response. This would include staff members such as teachers, coaches, and bus drivers.
  • Allowing the child to test his/her blood sugar level and take necessary actions in response such as administering insulin, or, if the child is not yet able to do so, provisions for who will perform this task.
  • Provisions for where blood sugar levels will be tested and insulin administered.
  • Insuring full participation in all sports, extracurricular activities, and field trips, with the necessary assistance and/or supervision provided.
  • Eating whenever and wherever necessary, including eating lunch at an appropriate time with enough time to finish eating.
  • Taking extra trips to the bathroom or water fountain.
  • Permitting extra absences for medical appointments and sick days when necessary.
  • Making academic adjustments for classroom time missed for medical appointments, testing, or because of periods of high or low blood sugar.
  • Providing for alternate learning activities, assignment schedules, or instruction if an influenza outbreak or other health threat requires that the student should not attend school.
  • Last Reviewed: September 20, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 30, 2013