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Children with sickle cell disease can stay healthy and succeed at school

Created May 2015

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Produced by New England Pediatric Sickle Cell Consortium, in collaboration with Rajan Sonik, Equal Justice Fellow, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created August 2014

Staying healthy at school and getting good grades can be hard for a child with sickle cell disease, but it does not have not have to be.

  • If all teachers knew your child has to drink a lot of water and wear her coat when it is cold, she could probably stay healthier.
  • If all teachers followed a plan so your child can make up all the work she misses when she’s sick, she could probably get better grades.

The law says your child’s school must make and follow a plan to help your child stay healthy and succeed at school. This kind of plan is called a “504 Plan.” It explains everything your child needs to stay healthy at school. Also, it can tell the school how to help your child catch up after she is out sick.

How do I get a 504 Plan for my child?

  1. Ask your child’s doctor to use the forms in this section so your child can be healthy and successful at school. He or she can look at the sample doctor’s letter, “accommodations chart,” and medication forms. He or she can change the samples to talk about your child’s specific needs. See “Instructions for your child’s doctor”.
  2. Ask the school for a meeting to create a 504 plan for your child.
  3. Before the meeting, give the school a copy of the doctor’s letter, the chart, and the medication forms for your child. Keep a copy for yourself, and bring copies to the meeting.
  4. The school must meet with you. Let the school know that you know your rights. Keep asking for the meeting until they schedule it.

Is a “504 Plan” the same as special education?

No. Students that need special education have Individualized Education Programs (IEP). An IEP is usually for students who have a hard time learning, even if they can attend class. A 504 plan is more for students who might fall behind because of a disability that makes them sick so they cannot attend class.
See a chart that shows the differences between IEP’s and 504 plans,
To learn more about IEP’s, see A Parent’s Guide to Special Education

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