Islets of Hope    state laws affecting diabetes care in California schools

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Information for this article was compiled and edited by Lahle A. Wolfe.  See website disclaimer.

This information was provided courtesy of
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Important Disclaimer

This information for general information purposes only.  

It is not intended to be used a recommendation or endorse- ment of any program or entity

This information is not intended to serve as any form of medical or legal advice.

California State Diabetes Insurance Coverage Laws

Federal Laws Pertaining to Persons with Diabetes

Diabetes Assistance Programs


Diabetes Laws

California - State Laws Affecting Diabetes Care in Schools
Services for Students with Diabetes in California Public Schools
Questions and Answers for California Parents and Guardians of Diabetic Children

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4.  What federal laws protect my child?

Students with disabilities, including those with diabetes, have a right to a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) without discrimination. These rights are guaranteed by laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Every student with diabetes has a right to be evaluated to determine his or her eligibility for services under Section 504 and/or IDEA, as appropriate.

Each of the above laws has a definition of what it means to have a disability, and your child must meet that definition in order to have rights under the law.

In general, a student has a disability under Section 504 (and the Americans with Disabilities Act which provides similar protections from discrimination) if he/she has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as eating, breathing, walking, learning, and caring for oneself. The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has regularly determined that students with diabetes meet this standard and are entitled to related aids and services necessary to ensure a free appropriate public education, such as those described in this document. Your child can be covered by Section 504 even if he or she is succeeding academically and making good grades. Although schools sometimes think that there must be a demonstration of child’s declining grades or lack of academic progress to be covered under Section 504, the CDE Legal Advisory makes clear that this is not true.

IDEA protects students who need special education (specially designed instruction) and related services. A student with diabetes may be eligible under IDEA and entitled to an “Individualized Education Program” (IEP) because, for example, high or low blood glucose levels can cause symptoms giving him/her limited strength or limited alertness, and can cause chronic or acute health problems that adversely affect his or her educational performance. Fluctuations in blood glucose levels may have an adverse effect on education in a variety of ways, including effects on concentration, comprehension and energy levels. The IEP team must make an individual determination as to whether, notwithstanding the child’s progress in a course or grade, he or she needs special education and related services. In addition, a student with diabetes may be covered under IDEA if he or she has another disability that adversely impacts learning.

California state law also protects students with diabetes from discrimination, and state law covers some individuals who may not be eligible for services under these federal laws. For more information on state law see the Legal Advisory.

The services and accommodations that your child needs for his or her diabetes should be documented in a written plan (either a 504 Plan or an IEP). School personnel such as the 504/IDEA coordinator, school nurse, guidance counselor and key teachers should work with you to develop this plan, which incorporates the medical orders provided by your child’s treating physician (described below).

A copy of a sample 504 Plan developed by ADA and DREDF is attached and available at: http://diabetes. org/uedocuments/ad-504-adanasndredf-2007. pdf. You have a right to meet with school personnel to develop such a plan, and to bring an advocate, attorney and/or expert to this meeting to better explain your child’s diabetes management needs. The school should develop the IEP or 504 Plan with your input. You do not have to sign the plan if you disagree with it (to begin implementation, you can sign the parts you agree with but not those parts that need further discussion).

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This information was provided courtesy of Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

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Page Updated  08/14/2007