504 Plans: The Basics

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law which prevents discrimination against students with disabilities by an institution which receives federal funds, including public schools and universities. Much like an IEP, a 504 guarantees a free and equal education to individuals with disabilities.

However, a 504 Plan is different from an IEP in several key ways. Under a 504 Plan, a student with a disability is someone who has “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment.” This can include activities like speaking, listening, writing, caring for themselves, walking, breathing, eating, or other important actions.

For students who have these types of disabilities, they may not require instruction from a special education teacher or placement in a different academic setting. Because of this, they might not fit IDEA’s definition of having a disability which can grant them an IEP. Still, they may require accommodations in order to be able to reach their full potential when in school. For example, a child with ADHD or a child who uses a wheelchair may not meet the requirements for an IEP, but they could receive accommodations through a 504 Plan.

Similar to the IEP process, an evaluation is necessary for a child to qualify for a 504 Plan. This evaluation will look to determine whether your child’s disability substantially limits them in a major life activity. Anyone can refer your child for a 504 evaluation, including their parent, teacher, or another school employee. Your child will be evaluated through classroom observations, teacher reports, testing, academic assessment, and medical or psychological evaluations if applicable.

If the school’s Child Study Team (could link to child study team page here) determines that your child qualifies for accommodations, they will have to write a 504 Plan. Parents have a right to receive a written confirmation of whether or not your child eligible for services under a 504 Plan. The final plan should include (but is not limited to):
• The accommodations that your child will be given,
• How these accommodations will be provided and by whom,
• The name and contact information for your child’s case manager who will be responsible for the plan’s implementation.
Your child’s 504 should be given to their teachers and other support staff who will be working with them. It should be kept on record in their file and revised annually in a meeting where their parent can be an active participant. If you disagree with your child’s eligibility determination or the services they will be given, you have the right to mediation and due process.

504 services can include many of the same sorts of accommodations provided under an IEP and some different ones as well. For example, your child might receive modified textbooks, technology aids, physical or behavioral therapy, extra time on tests, or physical modifications to their desk/classroom.

We know that the process of advocating for your child and ensuring that they have a sufficient 504 Plan can be difficult. Our attorneys are prepared to represent clients at 504 meetings, due process hearings, and other complex times. Susan Clark Law Group can help you navigate the 504 Plan and advocate for your child.

Contact us at the Susan Clark Law Group at 732-637-5248 for a free consultation.
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