Prepping Kids with Digestive Issues and Their Teachers for the New School Year


Parents and guardians across the nation are getting their kids ready for the upcoming school year. Whether they plan to attend school in the traditional classroom or in an e-learning platform, it's crucial to ensure the necessary protocol is in place for children suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) problems. The preparation process encompasses setting up a meeting with your child's school administrative officials to ensure they understand the digestive problems impacting your student. Taking preparatory steps ahead of time also produces an occasion to initiate a 504 plan on behalf of your student.

What is a 504 plan?

Section 504 is a federal law that was created to guard the rights of individuals having disabilities within programs and activities that obtain federal financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. Under this law, a school district has to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each eligible student who has an impairment within the school's domain, no matter the form or severity of the handicap.

Section 504 applies only to public educational institutions and additional programs that receive federal financial support. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) grants Section 504 coverage to all state and local entities, including non-public educational institutions, regardless of whether or not they get financial support from the federal government. Additionally, Section 504 applies to post-school, academic, and nonacademic-based (lunch, assemblies, and recess) activities. Overall, a 504 plan makes sure that all students have equivalent opportunities for activities and education, despite any qualifying handicap.

How to complete a Section 504 plan on your student's behalf

If your child has been diagnosed with a persistent GI issue, the supervisory staff at the school should be alerted of the condition. Starting a 504 plan allows teachers to be knowledgeable and duly equipped if your student is out of class for any length of time or leaves school early/arrives at school late as a result of their digestive problem.

  • The process begins with pulling together medical documentation regarding your child’s needs and disability. This may include written information that describes your child's disability and associated requirements, such as medical assessments, records, evaluations, and other details pertaining to their health. Additionally, you may want to collect any progress reports or other types of school-related documents or assessments.

  • At this juncture, it is time to write and submit an official request or letter for the 504 plan to the administrative team at the school and the staff member who coordinates 504 plans. Often, this is also the staff member responsible for managing Individual Education Plans (IEPs), which are detailed educational plans curated especially for a child who has a disability. This document should detail your child's health diagnosis and any related accommodations your student may require. Such documentation should also include the types of circumstances your student could encounter during the school day and the requested actions.

  • After you have provided this correspondence to the school administrators, the 504 plan evaluation process will commence. Throughout this evaluation, the school administrators will review the information you provided, including health records, classwork, past assessments, and additional types of information. The school administrative team might also wish to conduct personal meetings with you, your student, your child's instructor, or additional administrative officials to complete this evaluation process.

  • When the 504 plan evaluation review is over, the school administrative staff will probably reserve a time to meet with you and your student to further decide their qualification. Parents or guardians can ask for a conference at this point as well. In the event your student does not qualify for a 504 plan or you feel as though the plan does not fully meet your child's needs, you could contemplate dispute resolution proceedings. However, if your child is approved for a Section 504 plan, you will work closely with the administrative officials at your child's school to create and define your student's personal 504 plan.

Gastrointestinal concerns can cause a challenge for children while at school. But a 504 plan can help make sure their needs are met. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, our seasoned gastrointestinal specialists are committed to helping families elevate the health of their little ones. To learn more about managing gastrointestinal diseases, schedule a visit at one of our GI offices located throughout the DFW area.