If my child has a diagnosed medical or mental health condition, will he/she have a 504 plan?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. When a student has a mental or physical impairment that limits a major life activity the district is required to level the playing field for the student to prevent discrimination and provide access like typical peers. A student with a mental and/or physical impairment that is progressing in school without modifications and/ or accommodations would be eligible for the non-discrimination protections under Section 504, but would not have a written 504 plan.
Does my child with a medical condition need a 504 or an Individualized Health Plan?
An Individualized Health Plan (IHP) may be considered a 504 plan. For students who require support only by a nurse or other trained school staff, an individualized health plan may be all that is needed to meet the needs of the student. For students whose ongoing or long-term medical or mental health needs impact day-to-day activities in the classroom or school activities, a 504 plan may be needed. Some students may require both an IHP and a 504 plan .
What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 Plan?
Students with an IEP are receiving an individual education plan supported by additional staffing and instruction. 504s provide program changes within general education to provide equal access.
What questions will the school team consider in determining a need for a Section 504 Plan?
Indications of eligibility may include but are not limited to:
- Does the student’s academic and/or behavioral performance significantly differ from typical peers?
- Does the student consistently need more time than peers to complete assignments or tests?
- Does the student consistently need substantial changes made to the standard course delivery, content or assessment?
- Does the student consistently exhibit difficulties with planning and organization, beyond what is developmentally appropriate and expected for their age?
- Has the student shown a consistent downward slope in academic progress?
- Has the student shown a consistent pattern of negative behaviors?
What kinds of program changes or accommodation are available to support students who have a 504 Plan?
When writing the 504 Accommodation Plan, the team must consider accommodations or services that provide the student with an appropriate education that is individualized to the student and meets the needs of the student as adequately as it meets the needs of nondisabled students in the least restrictive environment. There may be more than one appropriate accommodation available. The team will consider which available accommodations appropriately meet the individual student’s needs.
Note: An accommodation is an adjustment to the general education instruction or placement that enables the learner to have equal access and opportunity to benefit from the general educational program. Accommodations do not alter or lower the standard being taught.
What can a parent do if they disagree with the eligibility determination or the accommodations on a 504 Plan?
Parents who have concerns about their student’s evaluation or 504 plan should always talk first with their school’s 504 Coordinator and/or the school principal. For further information on the 504 grievance process, refer to your procedural safeguards/notice of parent rights.
Does a 504 Plan provide for extended time on standardized exams?
Students who require testing accommodations for their day-to-day classroom exams may be eligible for similar accommodations on standardized tests. For State and district testing, those decisions will be made by building staff.
For standardized tests managed by outside entities (ACT, SAT, AP, etc.), the decision to provide accommodations is the sole responsibility of the testing companies. Students must be able to provide documentation of their disability and demonstrate a history of needing and receiving similar testing accommodations in their prior academic classes and test taking experiences. Refer to the College Board or ACT websites for more specific information on disability testing policies.
For more information, refer to: Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools