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Doing Your Homework
Child Has Health Problems,
School Reports Him Truant

by Sue Whitney


Public schools are required by law to accommodate the health needs of students. The plan to accommodate health needs may be called a health plan or a 504 plan.

My child has asthma, and his school continually sends him home. Now they have reported him truant. Where do I look for help on this matter? Wrightslaw shows me nothing. HELP!!

Sue Responds

If the school has sent your child home because they think he is ill, they can't very well say he left school on his own and is truant. One situation rules out the other. You need to take steps to document that your child's absences were due to illness. You also need to prevent this from happening again. Here is your plan . . .

Use School's Records

Use the school's records to straighten things out. Many people in the school keep records on children. School nurses keep health records on students. They also record visits to the nurse's office by students.

Step 1. Ask the nurse for a copy of the notes or forms she filled out about your child's visits to her office. If the nurse does not want to give these copies to you, ask your child's pediatrician to write a letter to the nurse requesting that she send the information to him/her. Then get the records from the doctor. Depending on how the school keeps track of these visits, these notes should show that your child was sent home because he was too ill to attend school.

Develop a Plan

You need to prevent this from happening again.

Public schools are required by law to accommodate the health needs of students. The plan to accommodate health needs may be called a health plan or a 504 plan. If there is a plan for your child, it does not seem to be working, or it is not being followed.

Step 2. The American Diabetes Association prepared an excellent Model Section 504 Plan and Medical Management Plan. You can modifiy these formats to cover other medical issues that arise at school.

Wrightslaw Note: The Model Section 504 Plan and Model Medical Management Plans are available in PDF and Word.

Download the Model Section 504 Plan and revise it so it applies for your child's needs. Consult with your pediatrician to make sure the plan is complete and covers all your child's health needs.

Keep one copy for your records. Make sure the pediatrician has a copy for your child's record. Provide copies of the plan to the school nurse and the principal. (Meet with them in person to answer any questions they may have.) The plan will give them clear guidelines from the child's medical doctor about what the child needs from them in order to attend school. (The school's Section 504 coordinator may request a meeting to develop a more formal plan and an evaluation.)

When you take these steps, you will have documentation that your child's past absences were not due to truancy. You will also have a plan in place to reduce future absences.

Suzanne Whitney
Research Editor, Wrightslaw

Section 504, 504 Plans & Medical Conditions

Section 504: Summary of Rights l Section 504 on Wrightslaw

Know Your Rights! - People with diabetes -- of all ages -- face discrimination at times. Children with diabetes often run into discrimination at school or day care. The American Diabetes Association has compiled information about rights and responsibilities, discrimination, and what you can do.

Know Your Legal Rights! School Discrimination - Three federal laws protect people with disabilities in the school and day care settings, IDEA, Section 504 and the ADA. These laws have successfully been used to protect the rights of children with diabetes.

Legal Protections - Safe at School. In spite of federal legal protections, however, children with diabetes sometimes face problems in getting the care they need in schools.

How to Resolve Diabetes School Care Problems

Asthma Initiative of Michigan - Schools and Asthma

Strategies for Addressing Asthma in Schools from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2017).

To learn how to advocate for your child, read Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy the Special Education Survival Guide,

Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Doing Your Homework, Suzanne Whitney gives savvy advice about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.

Her articles have been reprinted by,,, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc.

She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC).

Sue Whitney's bio.

Copyright © 2002-2022 by Suzanne Whitney.

Revised: 11/16/21

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