School Accommodations When you have a child with Nephrotic Syndrome, there are many considerations when it comes to school. Many children with Nephrotic Syndrome don’t qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), but could benefit from a few accommodations in school and a 504 Health Plan may be able to help. Part of a civil rights law, a 504 plan is developed at the school level to customize a student’s school and learning environment to meet their specific needs. A 504 Plan can be a good tool that helps your child receive the instruction they need inside the classroom, while protecting their health at the same time. What is 504 Plan? A 504 Plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary, or post-secondary schooling. The goal of a 504 Plan is to remove barriers and allow students with health concerns to participate effectively in public education or in schools that receive public funding. This plan can be helpful for students with minor or severe health concerns. It removes barriers by listing accommodations designed for a student to help them learn in a classroom environment and participate in school just as they would if they didn’t have a disability. These accommodations are specific to each student and each 54 Plan is uniquely suited to the student’s particular needs. Who Qualifies for a 504 Plan? Children who benefit from a 504 Plan are those who are able to learn at a typical level if they are provided appropriate accommodations. Thus, a child with intellectual disabilities will likely need an IEP, while a child with Nephrotic Syndrome would be better served by a 504 Plan. According to the US Department of Education, a child with a disability is defined as a “child who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; has a record of such an impairment; is regarded as having such an impairment.” Eligibility for a 504 Plan does not define specific medical conditions. Instead, it is intentionally left as a broad statement of possible physical and mental impairments so that each school can determine eligibility on an individual basis. “Major life activities” include a variety of functions required in daily life, from seeing or hearing to concentrating, communicating, and learning. The Department of Education also includes “major bodily functions” as part of life activities, so children with respiratory, bowel or bladder, immune, and other physical conditions are protected under the law. How to Establish a 504 Plan Sometimes the 504 Plan is proposed by the school for a child that they see could use a little extra help. Parents can also request a 504 Plan if they see a need or if a diagnosis or life event occurs that may impact their child’s safety at school or their learning abilities. School districts will often have a coordinator who handles both IEP and 504 plans. It’s also common for a team to be established to develop the plan. This may include the student’s teacher, principal, and counselor. Parents should also take part in creating a 504 Plan and attend all meetings. A school should develop a written and signed 504 Plan to ensure all responsible parties are informed and protected. It’s important that all teachers at the school have a copy and understand the accommodations set forth in the 504 Plan. Within the 504 Plan, the parent and the school will list specific accommodations or modifications that will make it possible for the student to succeed in school. Unlike an IEP, a 504 will not include academic goals, benchmarks, or measurements. Accommodations may include such items as: Requiring teachers and aides to receive training about your child’s condition (educational pamphlet about Nephrotic Syndrome) Supervision regarding dietary and fluid restrictions/requirements Keeping the classroom free of as many germs as possible by wiping down surfaces, providing access to non-shared school supplies, allowing the child to sit away from children who are coughing, etc. (sample letter to send home to parents) Providing a child with extra time or modified testing and homework Protection against missed school for illness and or doctor appointments Ability to visit the school nurse for medications and/or monitoring Home instruction if your child misses too much school Click here to view an example of a 504 Plan. 504 Plan vs Individualized Education Plan There is some confusion regarding the similarities between a 504 Plan and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). While both are intended to help children with disabilities learn with adaptations to meet their needs, they take a different approach. A 504 Plan is intended for children with a wide range of disabilities who are, nevertheless, able to participate and succeed in a general education classroom. An IEP, on the other hand, is intended for children who are not able to learn at the same pace as their peers and who require special education services. Some children with Nephrotic Syndrome do qualify for an IEP. If you feel like your child could benefit from a written 504 Plan or an IEP, contact your school and set up a meeting!