Objectives and Indicators of Educational Equity for students with chronic health conditions and special health management needs. c. 1991
A version of this article appeared in Family-Centered Care Network Newsletter, Association for Care of Children's Health, 1993.
EVALUATE YOUR SCHOOL'S POLICIES AND PRACTICES.
The principle of educational equity does not mean that all students get
the same services, but that every student gets the services and
consideration that he or she needs. Appropriate planning for students
with special health needs promotes their health security and enables
them to attend school safely and successfully. Does my school support
or hinder students' health management? Is my child safe at school?
1. As a team, school staff, parents and others knowledgeable about the
child, document the student's health management needs, then create a
written implementation plan which specifies staff roles and guidelines
for services and accommodations necessary to meet the standard of a free
and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
2. The school administration provides staff with the information, training
and assistance that enables them to support the student's educational,
health management and social goals, to individualize and modify
curriculum, to build effective teacher-parent partnerships, and to be
responsive to changing needs.
3. Health policies and procedures are proactive. Policies and staffing are designed to meet student needs.
4. Teachers, parents and students receive written notice of policies and
the names and responsibilities of health staff annually or when changes
5. Medication administration is medically
timely, convenient and promotes developmentally appropriate student
independence and self-care skills.
6. The team
considers the impact of a student's condition, treatment, medications or
side effects on learning, behavior, or attendance when assessing
performance or setting standards for grading or promotion.
7. Individualized guidelines allow students to adapt their participation
in vigorous exercise, gym, or outdoor play. Guidelines promote student
participation while accommodating variations in stamina or tolerance for
8. Guidelines increase program
flexibility, avoid stigmatizing or isolating students and do not impose
grading or promotion penalties.
9. The plan identifies
risks and accommodations necessary to promote safety and participation
during field trips, extra curricular activities and special events.
10. The plan anticipates the need for tutoring or makeup
assistance to maintain academic and social continuity during periods of
frequent and/or intermittent absences and to facilitate transitions
between hospital, home and school.
11. The plan details child-specific emergency planning.
12. Peers receive education and sensitization.
13. The school administrator monitors school maintenance and air quality
and promotes ongoing efforts to reduce irritants, allergens and
14. A school-based liaison is responsible for
effective, reliable, continuous, coordinated health management and
service monitoring and evaluation.
The Americans With Disabilities Act: How Does it Affect You?
Educational Equity - Equal access to instructional opportunities and an
equal opportunity to perform to the best of one's ability.
A version of this article appeared in Advance, a newsletter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, September, 1993.
Has your child been rejected by a preschool or excluded from a field trip because a teacher was afraid to use his or her Epi-Pen? Does a moldy carpet at work or school make you sick? Does stale smoke in offices, hotel rooms or conference centers make it hard for you to take part in routine business activities?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that gives you the right to ask for changes where policies, practices or conditions exclude or disadvantage you.
As of January 26, 1992, public entities and public accommodations must provide full access to and equal enjoyment of all facilities, programs, goods and services to individuals with disabilities have
The ADA borrows from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment and education in agencies, programs and services that receive federal money.
The ADA extends many of the rights and duties of Section 504 to public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, stores, doctors' offices, museums, private schools and child care programs. They must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. No one can be excluded or denied services just because he/she is disabled or based on ignorance, attitudes or stereotypes. Does the ADA Apply to People with Asthma and Allergies?
Yes. In both the ADA and Section 504, a person with a disability is described as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or is regarded as having such impairments. Breathing, eating, working and going to school are "major life activities." Asthma and allergies are still considered disabilities under the ADA, even if symptoms are controlled by medication.
The ADA can help people with asthma and allergies obtain safer, healthier environments where they work, shop, eat and go to school.
The ADA also affects employment policies. For example, a private preschool can not refuse to enroll children because giving medication to or adapting snacks for students with allergies requires special staff training or because insurance rates might go up. A firm can not refuse to hire an otherwise qualified person solely because of the potential time or insurance needs of a family member.
In public schools where policies and practices do not comply with Section 504, the ADA should stimulate significant changes. In contrast, the ADA will cause few changes in schools where students have reliable access to medication, options for physical education, and classrooms that are free of allergens and irritants. How Will the ADA Work?
In most cases, employees and employers, consumers and businesses, and administrators and students will work together to improve conditions and remove barriers to promote equal access and full inclusion.
Marie Trottier, Harvard University's Administrator of Disability Services, explains that her role includes educating nonallergic managers, colleagues and coworkers about the needs of people with environmental sensitivities. She also trains staff in education and employment policies, benefits and procedures.
"Changes depend as much on interpersonal consideration as they do on legal rights," she says. "It shouldn't be uncommon for people with asthma and allergies to get the same respect for their needs as people with more visible disabilities."
When Ms. Trottier arranges for accommodations in offices, classrooms and student housing, she considers the nature of the disability and the specifics of each situation. She might install an air conditioner or arrange for an office with a window that opens. She has relocated a microwave oven and reorganized office spaces to help people with allergies avoid cooking odors.
Employees might need prior notice of renovation or lawn care projects so they can modify their schedules to avoid the irritants and allergens.
Professors may ask students not to wear scented products to class. Students affected by dust, paper fibers, or ink can have someone borrow library materials for them or they can use an on-line computer system. Ms. Trottier says that "all of these options for students and employees require time and energy, flexibility and creativity, more so than money." A sign in her office underscores her point, "Attitudes are the real disabilities."
Making the ADA Work for You
If you or your child need consideration because of asthma or allergies, talk to the school administrator, manager, employer, human specialist or disabilities service coordinator. He or she should have a procedure for collecting necessary information and planning appropriate changes, aids or services. You can call on a variety of sources for advice and creative practical ideas.
Under Section 504, public schools and programs can not avoid their responsibility by claiming to have limited resources. Nor can they impose a "disparate impact" on people with disabilities. The ADA requires public accommodations to make changes, except in cases where an "undue burden" would result.
The law does not define "undue burden." It depends on the organization's size and the real costs of the changes. The business or program must show that it properly assessed the individual's needs and tried to find the necessary. Don't be Afraid to Speak Up
The ADA prohibits retaliation, harassment, or coercion against individuals who exercise their rights or assist others in doing so.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney General who refers complaints to the appropriate agency. The Attorney General can bring lawsuits to seek money damages and civil penalties in cases of general public importance, or where there is a "pattern or practice" of discrimination.
Individuals can also file a private suit to get a court order requiring a business or program to make necessary changes and to pay attorney's fees. Other remedies may include reinstatement in your job and back pay.
The ADA is Evolving
Court decisions and rulings will slowly define how the ADA will affect us. The real momentum for change will come as we work creatively together to promote the inclusive attitudes and environments that fulfill the promise of the ADA for ourselves and our children.
This information is not meant to substitute for professional legal advice.
The world endures solely by virtue of the breath of school children. (Talmud)