Yes. If your daughter’s food allergy causes her to have severe allergic reactions to a specific type of food allergen, she may have a disability pursuant to the Americans Disability Act or the ADA. Children with a food allergy that is considered a disability are entitled to accommodations at school pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal statute.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based upon disability and protects the rights of disabled persons in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Section 504 protects the rights not only of individuals with visible disabilities but also those with disabilities that may not be apparent. Pursuant to the federal statute, public schools are required to implement 504 plans for students with qualified disabilities.
504 plans are funded by the government, which require schools to provide reasonable accommodations for children with disabilities so that they have access to a free and appropriate public education. See What is a 504 plan and what does it mean for your child with a food allergy?
If your daughter attends a private school, some private schools may also have 504 plans. Therefore, it is advisable to call the school administrator to inquire about a 504 plan if she does in fact attend a private school.
In order to implement a 504 plan for your daughter, your daughter will need to be evaluated by the school to see if she qualifies for a 504 plan. You must contact the school to request an evaluation. Once a plan is approved, as a parent, you would work with the school to ensure proper accommodations are made for your daughter so that she has safe access to all school activities.
One thing that may be included in your child’s 504 plan is to make sure school faculty and other personnel know how to recognize an allergic reaction and what to do. For example, if your daughter has an allergic reaction and requires an Epi-pen, school faculty and staff need to know where Epi-pens are kept. If Epi-pens are locked away and not easily accessible, they are not going to help your daughter when she has an allergic reaction. Therefore, perhaps Epi-pens can be kept at another location or multiple locations so that they are easily accessible.
If your child suffered anaphylaxis due to the school’s negligence, he/she may be entitled to compensation. If you would like to discuss your child’s legal rights and help prevent another incident from happening in the future, call the food allergy lawyers at White and Williams LLP at 877.944.8396.