A “504 plan” in the context of education typically refers to a plan developed to provide students with disabilities reasonable accommodations and modifications in the school setting. This plan is named after Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Here are some key points about 504 services in schools:
- Eligibility: To be eligible for a 504 plan, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include things like walking, seeing, hearing, learning, and concentrating.
- Evaluation and Documentation: Schools typically require documentation from qualified professionals, such as doctors or psychologists, to determine a student’s eligibility for a 504 plan. This documentation should describe the nature of the disability and how it impacts the student’s ability to access their education.
- Accommodations: Once eligibility is established, the school, in collaboration with the student’s parents or guardians, develops a 504 plan that outlines the specific accommodations and modifications necessary to ensure the student has equal access to education. These accommodations can vary widely depending on the student’s needs and may include things like extended test-taking time, preferential seating, or access to assistive technology.
- Regular Education Setting: One of the key principles of a 504 plan is that it aims to keep students with disabilities in the regular education setting to the greatest extent possible. It is designed to provide support so that students can participate in general education alongside their peers.
- Ongoing Review: 504 plans are not static documents. Schools should periodically review and update them as needed to ensure that they continue to meet the student’s needs.
- Legal Protections: Section 504 provides legal protections to students with disabilities to prevent discrimination and ensure they receive an equal education. If a school fails to provide appropriate accommodations, parents or guardians can file a complaint or due process complaint to seek resolution.
It’s important to note that 504 plans are different from Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which are developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide more specialized services for students with certain disabilities. 504 plans are typically for students who have disabilities that do not require specialized instruction but still need accommodations to access their education.
If you have specific questions about 504 services in a particular school or district, it’s best to contact the school’s special education department or a school counselor for more information.