What is Section 504?
Per the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), “Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 works together with the ADA and IDEA to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community.”
Special thanks to Collaborative Corner and their help in providing this resource.
What is a 504 Plan?
“A 504 Plan is a blueprint for how the school will provide supports and remove barriers for a student with a disability. Its purpose is to give equal access to the general education curriculum.” – www.understood.org.
The 504 Plan is designed to help children with disabilities learn alongside their peers within the general education curriculum and outlines how a child’s needs are met with accommodations (or services).
Who can qualify for a 504 Plan?
Under Section 504, a person with a disability (both physical or mental) can qualify for a 504 Plan.
“Under Section 504, an individual with a disability (also referred to as a student with a disability in the elementary and secondary education context) is defined as a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
- Has a record of such an impairment
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (and therefore has a disability) must be made on a case by case basis. In addition, when determining if someone meets the definition of a disability, the definition must be understood to provide broad coverage of individuals.” – Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools
How does my child qualify for a 504 Plan?
For a visual flow chart of how your child can qualify for a 504 Plan, click here.
What CAN a 504 Plan include?
A 504 Plan can include accommodations to improve your child’s educational environment within the general education curriculum. Click here for a list of differences between accommodations and modifications. The accommodations don’t change what the child learns, but how the child learns. The accommodations on a child’s 504 plan removes barriers for the student and addresses specific challenges within the learning environment. It is also important to note that a 504 Plan can also support the student’s social and emotional behaviors.
What does a 504 Plan NOT include?
A 504 plan does not have annual, measurable goals. Additionally, a 504 Plan does not have specialized education services, specific academic and behavioral goals, and curriculum changes. A 504 does NOT have to be a written document (although it generally is). For information about your rights in the 504 process, click here.
Who creates your child’s 504 Plan?
Your child’s 504 Plan team can vary, but generally the team will consist of: Parent/Guardian, the student’s general education teacher, a special education teacher and the school principal.
How do I ensure my child’s 504 Plan is being followed?
Although the 504 Plan does not have measurable goals, the plan should have a list of accommodations which require you to gather the appropriate data that is related to these accommodations. The accommodations that are listed on your child’s 504 plan should name the person(s) responsible for providing these services. It is best to reach out to the responsible person(s) listed on your child’s 504 plan for updates. Additionally, reaching out to the child’s guidance counselor for information on your student’s current level/progress within the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) monitoring system will give you great insight as to if his/her 504 Plan is being followed and how the accommodations are or are not working. Click here for a great guide to ensure you child’s 504 Plan is being followed.
I do not think my child’s 504 is helping. What should I do next?
If you suspect that your child’s 504 Plan is not or no longer benefiting him/her, it might be time to look into an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan). Initiating the IEP process might seem daunting, but Collaborative Corner is dedicated to easing this process for you. For a side by side comparison of the 504 Plan and an IEP, click here.
For a list of steps to take if you believe that your child’s 504 Plan is not working, click here.
In our next blog, we will be discussing the IEP process(es). If you have any questions about the 504 Plan or the process, please feel free to contact us here.
Jessica Barisano, IEP and Parent Advocate, Parent of an Exceptional Child
Founder of Collaborative Corner for Exceptional Children