Section 504 is a civil rights statute, which was enacted to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disabilities in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. A 504 plan is based on regulations developed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is the part of the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against public school students with disabilities. That includes students with learning and attention issues who meet certain criteria. A 504 plan outlines how a child’s specific needs are met with accommodations, modifications and other services. These measures aim to remove barriers to learning in the general education classroom.
504 plans are for K–12 public school students with disabilities. Section 504 defines “disability” in very broad terms and does not list specific disabilities by name. That’s why children who aren’t eligible for an IEP may qualify for a 504 plan. For any student that is an individual with disabilities, a public school must provide a free appropriate public education to the student. A school must provide a regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of disabled persons as adequately as the needs of non-disabled persons are met. (34C.F.R. 104.33)
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as someone who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that “substantially” limits one or more major life activity (such as reading or concentrating).
- Has a record of the impairment.
- Is regarded as having an impairment, or a significant difficulty that isn’t temporary. For example, a broken leg isn’t an impairment, but a chronic condition, like a food allergy, might be.
Evaluations can be initiated by either the parent or the school. When doing an evaluation for a 504 plan, the school considers information from several sources, including:
- Aptitude and achievement tests
- Teacher recommendations
- Physical condition
- Social and cultural background
- Adaptive behavior
If a student is determined to be eligible for a 504 plan, the plan is developed by a team of people who are familiar with the student and who understand the evaluation data and special services options. This team might include:
- Your child’s general education teacher(s)
- A special education teacher
- The school principal
- You, the parent(s)
- The child (depending on his age and maturity)
504 Plan Document
There’s no standard 504 plan required by the law. OSSU ensures that each 504 plan contains the following elements:
- Documentation of the disability
- How that disability substantially impacts a major life function
- Accommodations that are necessary for the students to access the public school because of their disability
Your child’s 504 plan must be reviewed by every year. Based on what’s covered in the meeting, the committee may propose changes to your child’s 504 plan. Your permission is only required if the committee recommends a major change in placement, such as discontinuing educational services that are in his or her current plan.
Requesting Changes to Plan or More Information
Talk to your school’s 504 Coordinator if you would like changes made to your child’s 504 Plan.
Each school has a 504 Coordinator and procedure in place. The building principal and/or the 504 Coordinator can provide more information upon request.