Getting Kids with GI Issues and Their Teachers Ready for the New School Year


As parents around the country are preparing to get their little ones the new school year, whether in the traditional classroom or an e-learning platform, it is imperative to make needed preparations for children who are suffering from digestive health conditions. Advanced preparation entails scheduling a meeting with your student's school administration to ensure they are familiar with the gastrointestinal concerns experienced by your student. Preparing before the school year begins also produces an opportunity to begin a 504 plan for your child.

Facts about a 504 plan

A federal law, Section 504 was enacted to defend the rights of individuals who have disabilities within programs and activities that receive federal financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. According to Section 504, a school district must allow for a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a handicap in the school district's domain, whatever the nature or scope of the disability.

Section 504 applies only to public educational institutions and additional entities that qualify for federal funding; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) grants coverage of Section 504 to all entities at the state and local levels, which includes non-public educational establishments, regardless of whether they receive financial support from the federal government. In addition, this law is applicable to nonacademic-based (assemblies, lunch, and recess), academic-based, and after-school activities. In general, a 504 plan guarantees all students have equivalent access to education and activities, despite any qualifying impairment.

What is the process for filing a section 504 plan for my student?

School administrative staff need to be made aware when any student has ongoing GI health issues. Establishing a 504 alerts faculty to the condition and allows them to properly prepare in the instance that the student is out of school for several days or alters their school arrival and departure times due to their gastrointestinal-related condition.

  • To start the 504 plan process, you'll want to collect the necessary paperwork for your student's disability and needs. This typically includes written information that describes the nature of your child's impairment and associated needs, such as health assessments, records, evaluations, and any other medical-related details. Furthermore, it is important to compile any academic reports or other forms of school-related assessments of paperwork.

  • At this point, it is time to write and submit an official letter or request for the Section 504 plan to the school's administrative team, including the 504 manager. Generally, this is also the staff member who manages IEPs (Individual Education Plans). IEPs are detailed educational plans designed specifically for a child with a disability. Such a letter should detail your child's medical condition and any associated arrangements your student may have concerning the GI condition. This documentation should also provide examples of the variety of circumstances they could experience throughout the school day and detailed information regarding any requested accommodations.

  • When you have submitted this letter to your child's school administrative staff, the Section 504 plan evaluation proceedings will get underway. To complete this evaluation, the school officials will go over the documentation you submitted, like health records, schoolwork, previous evaluations, and additional details. The school administrators might also request meetings with you, your child, your child's instructor, or other administrative staff members throughout the 504 plan assessment process.

  • Once the Section 504 plan evaluation process is over, the school will probably set up a conference with you and your child to decide their qualification. Guardians may also request to set up a conference at this point as well. If your student is approved for a Section 504 plan, you will work closely with the administrative officials at your child's school to outline the details of your student's personal plan. In the event your student does not qualify for a 504 plan or there is a disagreement surrounding the terms, you might wish to consider your dispute resolution options.

GI conditions can cause a range of challenges for kids while at school. However, a 504 plan can help you feel confident their needs are addressed. At Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology, our board-certified gastrointestinal physicians are devoted to helping parents elevate the wellness of their little ones. For help with gastrointestinal concerns, please get in touch with our Indianapolis, IN gastrointestinal specialists.