Food allergies occur when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. According to the CDC, food allergies affect an estimated 1 in every 13 children in the United States. In certain cases food allergies can be life threatening, referred to as anaphylaxis. In certain cases food allergies can be considered a disability allowing a student in public school to be eligible for protection under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students in private schools may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In rare situations a food allergy may be consider an “other health impairment” under IDEA and provide the basis for an IEP. This blog will focus on 504 accommodations.
An individual inquiry is necessary to determine whether a child with a food allergy is a “person with a disability” under Section 504 and the ADA. Under Section 504, a child with a disability includes someone who:
(1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
(2) has a record of such an impairment; or
(3) be regarded as having such an impairment. [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].
Accommodations for food allergies may include administering medications, removing certain foods from classrooms, providing alternative snacks, etc. It may be necessary to examine your child’s school day to determine whether your child will be exposed to a food allergen. Make a list of any potential dangers and suggested accommodations. Include ideas on who could be responsible for implementing the accommodation. For example, if your child might be exposed to a food allergen during an experiment in science class an accommodation may be made to substitute with an alternate experiment. The science teacher would be responsible for implementing the accommodation.
Many schools have implemented food allergy protocols. These protocols may include identification of students, allergen awareness and training for staff, and treatment protocols. Here are some links for Tri-Valley schools:
Pleasanton Unified School District: http://www.pleasantonusd.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=306553&type=d&pREC_ID=708792
San Ramon Valley School District: http://www.srvusd.k12.ca.us/file/1276956734524/1275747792962/7929159400007988898.pdf and http://www.srvusd.k12.ca.us/file/1276956734524/1275747792962/2111197993439940912.pdf
Livermore School District: There is a food and allergy action plan listed on their website but I couldn’t pick up a specific link: http://livermoreschools.com/
Dublin: I could not find a board policy on their website. However, here is a link to the Food Allergy Form: http://www.dublin.k12.ca.us/Page/109