Frequently Asked Questions for Schools
Is a student with diabetes still eligible for services under Section 504 if he/she is performing well academically and has no trouble learning?
Yes. Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), which considers whether a student's disability makes it difficult for them to learn, Section 504 is a broad civil rights law applying to all recipients of federal financial funding and eligibility does not require that a student have trouble learning. Students with diabetes are eligible under Section 504 because they are substantially limited in a major life activity including, but not limited to, the functioning of the endocrine system. The Association has a wealth of information about relevant federal and state laws accessible at diabetes.org/schoolrights.
What is the process for determining a student's 504 or IDEA eligibility once the school has been notified the school of the need for a 504 Plan or IEP?
The process for evaluating the student and determining how the needs of a student with diabetes will be met involves input about the student's diabetes from the parent/guardian, treating diabetes provider, school nurse and other school officials. Once eligibility has been determined, the "team" should work together to develop a written Section 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP) to meet the individual needs of the student. The Association has a sample 504 Plan accessible at diabetes.org/504plan
What is the difference between a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) (diabetes.org/DMMP) and Section 504 Plan (diabetes.org/504plan) and are both needed?
The DMMP is an individualized diabetes medical plan developed by the student's treating provider that lays out the prescribed diabetes regimen for the school setting. The Section 504 Plan sets forth the accommodations, education aides and services needed for the student with diabetes. Together these two plans work together to provide the school and parents/guardians with a comprehensive plan to meet the health care needs of the students. It is recommended that these plans be kept separate to make it clear that it is the responsibility of the treating physician and parents/guardians, rather than the school to determine the individualized treatment regimen for the child. The Association has a sample 504 Plan accessible at diabetes.org/dmmp.
What kind of modifications are usually provided by the school for the student with diabetes?
Some accommodations include, but are not limited to, allowing alternate times to take academic tests if blood glucose levels are significantly out of range; student access to supplies, equipment, medication, food, water, bathroom; opportunity to make up missed instruction and tests without penalty; assigned school staff to provide care on field trips and at all school-sponsored activities.
Must a school provide a trained school staff member while students participate in field trips and extracurricular activities?
Yes. Failure to provide this care would exclude students from these activities for safety reasons. Schools are required to provide needed care to ensure a student's full and safe participation in our school-sponsored activities.
Who provides care if a school doesn't have a school nurse or the school nurse isn't available?
All school staff having regular contact with a student with diabetes should be trained to recognize problems relating to diabetes and know who to contact when problems arise. A few school staff members should receive training in specific diabetes management tasks in order to assist students who cannot self-manage and to provide emergency care to any student with diabetes. The Association has comprehensive training resources at diabetes.org/schooltraining
Should self-managing students with diabetes be allowed to perform diabetes management tasks in the classroom or other areas where school-sponsored activities take place?
Yes. Capable students must be allowed to self-manage anywhere, anytime. Self-managing students should not be required to travel to the clinic or another location for care.
Is it safe for sharps and blood resulting from blood glucose monitoring to be performed anywhere but the clinic?
Yes. The medical community opines that blood and sharps pose no risk of transmitting disease or blood-borne pathogens through diabetes management tasks. Schools should work out an agreement with the individual student for sharps and materials disposal.
Is it okay to require a parent/guardian to come to school to provide diabetes care for their child?
No. Schools have a legal obligation to provide these services to students with diabetes, and may not require a student's parent/guardian to assume this obligation.
Are students with diabetes subject to the same disciplinary rules as other students?
Yes. However, if the student's misconduct is the result of diabetes, a student may not be disciplined.
Are students with diabetes allowed to eat cupcakes, cookies and other sweet treats and snacks?
Yes. Students should consume meals and snacks in accordance with his or her individualized Diabetes Medical Management Plan. There are no forbidden foods for people with diabetes. However, all students should be encouraged to eat nutritious food.
Should students with diabetes be allowed to take an exam at a different time if his or her blood glucose levels are out of target range?
Yes. Students who experience high or low blood glucose levels should not be penalized. Rather, the student should be allowed to take the exam another time just as a student with illness would be permitted to do.
Where can schools go for more information about the care of students with diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association has a wealth of resources that can be found at diabetes.org/safeatschool or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383).