*Update – September 12, 2014. In the food allergy discrimination case, TF v. Fox Chapel Area School District, the Third Circuit ruled that the school district was not “deliberately indifferent” to the child’s rights.
A case involving a kindergarten student with a tree nut allergy has the potential to set a precedent for food-allergy-related accommodations in a federal appellate court.
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), joined by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief Friday in the civil rights case, T.F. vs. Fox Chapel Area School District, in the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.
A federal judge previously ruled that:
- the school district did not discriminate against the child in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
- the school offered reasonable accommodations
- the school did not retaliate against the child’s parents when it filed a truancy petition against the parents after they withdrew their child from school
One accommodation offered by the school was “special lunch seating at a nut-free table” that was actually a single desk in the cafeteria.
The amicus brief outlines the need for school-wide food allergy management policies, and detailed individualized student accommodation plans that not only note policies, but specifically explain how they will be carried out and by whom.
We will keep you posted on the outcome of this case. *
Posted May 7, 2014 on the FARE Blog at
The argument in the brief:
- details the importance of protecting students with the hidden disability of a severe food allergy
- states the requirements for schools to provide FAPE under Section 504
- notes the statutory and regulatory provisions
- cites caselaw
To ensure a FAPE for a student with the hidden disability of a severe food allergy, schools must provide an individualized §504 Plan to ensure both meaningful participation in and meaningful access to educational benefits.
Students who require special education and related services require an Individualized Education Plan to meet these needs; a generic school-wide plan does not suffice.
See Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Central Sch. Dist., 458 U.S. 176,181–182 (1982)(citing
20 U.S.C.§ 1401(18)).