Although both 504 and IDEIA legislation address students with attention, learning, and other difficulties, 504 has become the more global vehicle for accommodation of children with unique health impairments.
What is a 504 plan?
A 504 plan is a legally binding document that falls under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In terms of educational purpose, it is designed to plan an instructional program to assist students with special needs who are attending their school's regular education program. The 504 plan should not be confused with the Individual Education Program (IEP), but in some cases students transitioning from special education to regular class placement may qualify under the conditions of 504.
What makes a student eligible for consideration of a 504 plan?
The student must be identified as disabled as outlined under Section 504. Does the individual have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; or have a record of such an impairment; or is regarded (perceived) as having such an impairment? If the answer is "yes" to one or more of the above statements, the individual may qualify for the provisions under Section 504. This would be especially true if the individual does not qualify for special education services under IDEIA.
What are "major life activities?"
Basically, major life activities include some of the following: caring for one's self, the performance of manual tasks, breathing, seeing, hearing, walking, working and learning. If any of these activities are substantially limited due to a disability, the individual may be accommodated under a 504 plan.
When should a possible 504 referral be considered?
A 504 plan should be considered appropriate when the individual meets the 504 criteria as having a disability and the individual is not being referred for special education services. Other questions to ask might include:
Is there a process that will help place a student on a 504 plan?
Basically, there are four steps involved in the development of a 504 plan.
Who are the people involved in the 504 process?
The student (where appropriate), parent/legal guardian, teacher(s), principal, district administrator(s), support staff (school nurse, paraprofessionals, speech and language therapist, etc.)
Who becomes responsible for the conditions of a written 504 plan?
All parties who sign off on the 504 plan are legally accountable for implementing and providing accommodations to the student as outlined in the 504 plan. A person who disagrees with the plan and refuses to sign may still be obligated to make the accommodations as outlined in the 504 plan. The 504 plan may be altered by sending a written notice to all persons who attended the first planning meeting in an effort to schedule a time for a plan review. Ideally, the plan should be reviewed and possibly modified at the scheduled time for review as indicated in the original 504 plan.
What are some types of accommodations that might be included in a 504 plan?
There are any number of possible accommodations that might be included in a 504 plan. Here are some examples:
There are many possible accommodations that a team may consider appropriate for an individual student. It is important to keep in mind that all participants within the scope of the 504 planning meeting share equal value when making recommendations. Any member of the 504 team may be required to carry out certain portions of the 504 plan to be assured that accommodations become a reality.