March '08 Monthly Bulletin
Meeting held: 3/19/08

Tip: Click on the Green links

Guest Speaker: Paul Stellino
504 Plan Coordinator
Sachem School District (NY)

Informal Question & Answer Session

504 Plan – Vocational Rehab Act – civil rights law for children with Severe Food Allergies

The 504 Plan is for a student that has any physical or mental impairment that has a substantial impact upon a life function.  When filing for a 504 Plan, make sure you have all the necessary medical documentation (i.e. test results). This is separate from an Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.).  Students with an I.E.P. automatically qualify for 504 Plan.  The child's accommodations are on their I.E.P.  The 504 Plan is an anti-discrimination act.  School age children, classification.  There is always due process.  Only in federal funded locations.  Request 504 switch from declassified I.E.P.  Call your school district to find out who your 504 Plan coordinator is to set up meeting.  Schools that are federally funded are responsible to implement 504 plan – make sure you check on private/catholic schools, Universal Pre-K programs.   I.E.P.s are not subject to federal funding.  Make sure you get a loose leaf notebook and accumulate notes and documentation.  If you have a 504 plan that the school is not following, you can report them to the NY Office of Civil Rights.  504 Plan’s do not need Board of Ed approval.  If not approved at the meeting, you have due process rights.  Retain a civil rights or educational attorney.  Have all documentation.  If you want your 504 or IEP meeting tape recorded, ask for it in advance.  A 504 Notice is the same as an annual review.  Continue to provide documentation.  You need to demonstrate via medical records that your child still has a life-threateing disability.

Is excluding kids with severe food allergies from school programs legal? 
Put safeguards in your plan – students should not be excluded.  Safeguards will help if an emergency situation occurs (i.e. if a parent brings in an allergic food, the parent of the allergic child provides a safe snack for the non-allergic child).  The 504 Plan protects your child from discrimination.  Doesn’t matter if a school program is an after-school.  Find out how it is funded.  If federally funded, the school needs to find a 1:1 aide or other accommodation for your child. 

How do I appeal a 504 Meeting?
Indicate to the 504 Coordinator of the school district (in writing) that you are in disagreement with the committee's decision and why.  The school district will appoint the hearing officer.

How to handle Bullying in school.  What is the standard?
2 approaches:
1. Safe orderly schools – conduct in school and extra curricular activities.
2. 504 Plan – have the administrator outline person who could come into class and talk about effects such as a school nurse or non-profit organization such as PAK.  Some schools run groups.  Build the allergic child’s self-esteem up with FAAN's Be a Pal Program promoted every May during Food Allergy Awareness Week.
School trips – does the school nurse have to go?
Varies by district.  Chaperones, sub nurses, a good idea is to have the bus swept and cleaned before students get on.  Make sure attached to your 504 is an Individual Health Plan so sub nurse knows your child.

What is an IHP (Individual Health Plan)?
Parent meet with building nurse and teacher.  The 504 gives the IHP organization.  How specific? It’s an Anaphylaxis Action Plan (i.e. who administers epi pen, doctor’s #). See Sample Letter of an IHP.  BE FIRM AND EDUCATE YOURSELF!

If it’s a small school is informal conversation enough?
No.  Need an emergency plan.  Include precautionary measures (i.e. who’s being trained, absent nurse). The more information regarding precautions and an Emergency Action Plan the better.

How to keep the classroom safe
The teacher sends letter home asking for cooperation. Follow through.  Most districts don’t say “peanut-free” can’t guarantee.  Take reasonable precautions against it.  "Peanut conscious" is practiced because you don't want a false sense of safety.  If your child has multiple food allergies or a food allergy other than Nuts, you may want to provide a safe snack so your child can have a "buddy system" in place at nack time.  Also provide a list of snacks that parents should not send in.  See this Sample letter

Should epi-pens be near the children?
Around age 8 they can carry them in backpacks.  Epis should go where ever the student goes.  The teachers should be trained and aides. 

What about Benadryl at school?
Give permission (doctor's prescription) to nurse and principal.  Teachers and Bus matrons cannot administer Benadryl.  Need prescription from the doctor on what conditions and how much.  The bus is where there are problems – drivers and matrons prohibited from administering meds.  Your allergist can recommend a matron to administer epinephrine on the bus in case of emergency.  This matron is trained by the school nurse.

What happens in High School and College?
You should make modifications to the 504 Plan.  There may be some classes students may not be able to take like Home Economics.

Can a Wellness policy help those with food allergies?
Hard to meet everyone's needs.  This Policy affects all children – no eating in class (on 504) No food zone (request on 504).

If you child is Tube fed who handles the feedings?
The school nurse handles the feeding.

Schools look at Sensitivity ratings
The school district's doctor checks with your doctor (with your permission).  Bring all documentation to your 504 Plan meeting.  It is not a single individual's decision.  Usually school districts rely on doctors and parents.

Does the 504 Plan apply to college students with Anaphylaxis?
The 504 Plan applies only if the institution is federally funded. Contact Student Services.

What about the Cafeteria?
~ One example in Sachem School District is their cafeteria menus have nutritional information and allergy information on it.  Varies by district.  Any food service in a school is self-supported (must break even financially). 
~ An example is having an aide assigned to wipe the table and seat before he sits.  Remember – we’re the experts.

PL-94-142 which is now known as IDEA - individuals with disabilities education act
It states that each child should be given a free appropriate public education.

PAK is not a professional or medical organization.  It is a group of parents sharing information and supporting each other.  The discussions, meeting minutes, handouts, guest speakers, agendas, and other products of our support group do not constitute medical/legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Always discuss individual health questions and medical issues with a qualified personal physician.

In regard to Guest Speakers, the purpose of the presentations is to provide a variety of opinions on the spectrum on allergy issues. By no means is PAK adopting the views of its speakers, or endorsing them as medically accepted in the community. It is up to the guests to weigh the persuasiveness and acceptability of the presentations, based on their own knowledge and research.
Does your child have severe food allergies?
You've come to the right place.