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School and Pedi IBD

school busIt is important for parents of children with Pedi IBD to know that their child is in a safe and comfortable environment when at school.

A diagnosis of Pedi IBD allows a child to receive accommodations at school that can help to make his or her day easier, more comfortable and less stressful.

Legal protections for children with Pedi IBD

justiceParents of children with Pedi IBD often consider whether or not requesting accommodations for health related issues at school is right for their family. Knowing what laws are in place to protect and help students with special health needs, such as Pedi IBD, can be useful when making this decision.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 ensures that no child can be denied access to education because of a physical disability at any institution that receives federal funds.

This Act gives parents the legal right to set up a 504 Plan with their child’s school that will accommodate any special physical or health related needs a child with Pedi IBD may have.

This means that your child with Pedi IBD cannot be excluded from taking part in any school activity including

  • classes, field trips, school sponsored clubs and athletics

A 504 Plan helps to make sure that your child is able to participate in all of these activities with the least amount of disease related anxiety.

A 504 Plan is a formal agreement between parents and school personnel that outlines any necessary accommodations or ways to make your child’s life at school as easy to manage as possible.

A 504 Plan lists all accommodations related to your child’s special health needs, in this case a diagnosis of Pedi IBD. A 504 Plan is used by a general education student who is not eligible for or does not need special education services.

Individuals With Disabilities Act or IDEA (enacted 1975)

IDEA also requires that all children have the same access to public education regardless of disability. This Act gives parents the legal right to set up

  • an Individualized Education Program or IEP

An IEP allows parents and school administration to create a plan that outlines any and all accommodations a child may need in order

  • to reach his or her educational goals

An IEP is used primarily to address the needs of a child with learning disabilities who, for example, may need more time to take tests or finish assignments.

National Council on Disability sealThe Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA (enacted 1990)

The ADA sets out very similar regulations to Section 504 and IDEA regarding equal access to education regardless of disability. The ADA further extends legal access to education by requiring institutions that do not receive federal funds to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.

If your child attends a school run by a religious organization, the above Acts may not apply and the school may not be legally bound to provide a 504 Plan.

It is important to remember that even when a school is not legally required, most schools are willing to work out a written plan to accommodate any special health needs your child may have related to their diagnosis of Pedi IBD.

Comminication graphicDeveloping a 504 Plan for Your Child

If you decide to develop a 504 Plan to accommodate your child’s health needs, it can be helpful to

  • meet with your child’s school team before the beginning of every school year

It can also be helpful to begin the process by contacting your child’s school principal

  • 4-5 weeks before school starts to request a meeting

fact sheetBy having a 504 Plan in place from the beginning, you and your child can be better prepared to deal with any problems relating to Pedi IBD that might come up later in the school year.

When a diagnosis of Pedi IBD happens after the school year has started, it is possible to set up a meeting as soon as you know that your child may need special health accommodations.

Having a 504 Plan can help to make sure your child is able to fully participate in all school activities with as little disease related anxiety as possible.

Developing a 504 Plan for your child requires that you and your child’s school staff work as a team. 

The following school staff members may participate in developing a 504 Plan and may participate in a 504 Plan meeting.

School Staff

  • Section 504 Coordinator (required in every public school system)
  • teacher(s) for all subjects including physical education
  • school nurse or Health Administrator
  • school administration (principal, assistant principal)
  • food service director
  • athletic director
  • your child’s primary care provider (PCP)
  • your child’s gastroenterologist (GI)

fact sheetDocuments to bring to 504 Plan meeting

  • Letter from your child’s PCP or GI outlining
    • what Pedi IBD is
    • what problems may arise in school because of the disease
    • all medications or treatments your child is currently taking
  • 504 Plan template with Pedi IBD language written in
  • Emergency Information Form for Children With Special Health Needs

Find a 504 Plan template with Pedi IBD language written in here

fact sheetAccommodations for a child with Pedi IBD

For a child with Pedi IBD, accommodations in the 504 Plan can include:

  • fact sheetemergency access to bathroom / any time bathroom pass
  • access to private bathroom facilities if available
  • storing emergency items in nurse or other staff office
  • eating small snacks/ drinks throughout the day
  • no penalty for tardiness or absence because of medical appointments or illness
  • rescheduling project/exam deadlines
  • assistance making up for missed classroom time/assignments
  • home-tutoring for extended periods of absence

Find a complete list of accommodations here

Taking Medications at School

Guidelines regulating the administration of medications in schools have been developed by bothmedications

  • state health departments
  • local school administrations

It is important to know exactly what guidelines your child’s school follows when giving medications to students.
You may request a copy of the school’s district or state-level plan from

  • Department of Health in your state

Contact info available through the CDC

  • School Administrative Offices (city/town/county)

The school’s medication administration plan outlines:

  • school staff members allowed to administer medications

(licensed/unlicensed – school nurse, health aid, secretary)

  • where prescription medications taken at school can be stored
  • where prescription medications can be given
  • if the guidelines allow students to take medications on their own
  • policy regarding non-prescription medications
  • what documentation is required

The following documentation is usually required before your child will be allowed to take medication at school:

  • medication order from student’s licensed healthcare provider
  • consent, in writing, from parent(s)

It is important to find out directly from your child’s school what, if any, additional documentation is needed.

check markParents can request that the school keep an updated

  • medication log listing date/time/dose of all medications given at school
  • medication error log listing date/reason for any missed doses

Schools may require that you submit a new medication order and parent consent form if your child’s medications change during the school year.

Who to Contact for Help with School Issues

To find assistance by state

To contact the United States Department of Education directly

  • US Department of Education

Office for Civil Rights
Tel:  800.421.3481
Email: OCR@ed.gov

Advocacy for Patients With Chronic Illnesses Blog