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(14.16) My child needs to take his medication while at school. What assistance must the school provide to make sure this happens?

(14.16) My child needs to take his medication while at school. What assistance must the school provide to make sure this happens?

Medications must be administered to students in special education or with Section 504 plans by school personnel if their individualized plans require it.  [5 C.C.R. Sec. 610(d).]  The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has found that a district’s refusal to administer a student’s medication as part of a 504 plan is discriminatory under Section 504.  [San Juan Unified School District, 20 IDELR 549 (W.D. Cal. 1993).]  The same reasoning should apply to a student with an IEP.

However, these services are not only available to students with disabilities, but also to students in regular education.  State law provides that school districts may use school nurses or others to assist students in taking their medications (1) if the student’s authorized health care provider specifies the method, amount and time of medication administration (and any other relevant information required by the school); and, (2) if the parent provides a written request for this assistance.  An authorized health care provider is someone licensed in California to prescribe medication.  [5 C.C.R. Secs. 600 & 601(a); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 49423.] 

Medications may include prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbs.  [5 C.C.R. Sec. 601(b).]  The regulations do not prohibit any particular medication from being administered at school, such as Diastat for seizure control.  If a student seeks staff assistance with taking a non-prescription medication, it is likely that a physician’s authorization will be required.

 As part of your written request for staff assistance in the administration of medication, the district may require that you give permission for the district to communicate directly with your child’s health care provider regarding the provider’s written authorization.  [5 C.C.R. Sec. 603(a)(2).]  If you are concerned that school staff may attempt to discuss things other than details of your child’s medication administration with the doctor, make sure that any authorization is specifically limited to matters related to medication administration.  If the district provides a broad consent form, you should add a sentence or two above your signature, limiting the district’s authorization to matters related to medication administration.  You should also give a copy of the authorization to the doctor and clarify that it is limited to the details of medication administration.