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504/Accommodation Plans

Another type of plan available to your child, per Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is an accommodation plan.

The Section 504/Accommodation Plan typically includes:

  • Identification and description of the child's impairment (usually a medical diagnosis)

  • List of accommodations to be provided

  • Who will be responsible for making sure the accommodations are provided

  • Any other relevant notes or interventions

Here's an example of what the content of a 504 plan might look like:

The purpose of a Section 504 plan is to provide legally required accommodations to a student. The building-level plan may include accommodations, but building-level plans do not give your student the legal right to them. Many students, particularly those with ADHD or Anxiety, simply need extra time compared to peers to be able to work on a level playing field. In those situations, it may be appropriate to explicitly request a Section 504 plan from your school district instead of pursuing the intervention process.

Once you request the Section 504 plan, the district must complete some type of evaluation to determine eligibility. The full process would look like this (some districts may skip or combine steps depending on the nature of the student's condition):

  1. Parent requests a Section 504 plan for their student (typically to the School Counselor or Principal/Administrator)

  2. School district schedules a team meeting to discuss whether it is appropriate to move forward with a Section 504 evaluation or try a building-level plan first

  3. If the district agrees to the Section 504 evaluation, they will create a plan for the evaluation and obtain parent consent to proceed. If they do not agree to do the evaluation in favor of the building-level plan, they will schedule a time to follow up with you in 4-6 weeks. You can request an evaluation again at that point if you have not seen improvement in your student's performance.

  4. The district completes the 504 evaluation. This may include a parent interview, review of records for background history, teacher interviews, medical information from your child's physician confirming the impacting condition, and sometimes social-emotional rating scales. Some districts may also include standardized assessments, such as IQ or Achievement tests. This is not as common these days for reasons we will discuss in next week's post.

  5. Another team meeting is held to discuss the results of the evaluation and determine as a team whether your child is eligible for a Section 504 plan. All team members sign in agreement or disagreement.

  6. If you child is determined to be eligible, the Section 504 plan is often written immediately following the eligibility determination in the same meeting. If there is a time crunch situation, the team member responsible for writing the plan may ask to schedule a phone conference with you to discuss the plan at a later date or offer to send the draft via email. If your child is NOT determined to be eligible, a building-level accommodation/intervention plan should be created instead.

  7. Once the Section 504 plan has been written and signed by the parent and district, the district must start providing the accommodations listed in the plan.

  8. The school district will contact you to review the Section 504 plan annually and make any necessary changes.

Some other important things to note regarding 504 plans:

  • 504 plans are NOT the same thing as IEPs/Special Education. We will touch on the similarities and differences in a later post.

  • 504 plans can follow your child to college, while IEPs do not.

  • All students with a diagnosis of Diabetes are entitled to qualify for a Section 504 plan in Ohio.

  • It is unusual for students to NOT qualify for a Section 504 plan if they have a documented medical condition.

  • There are no legally required "team members" for the 504 team. Usually it will include the parent, counselor, district representative, and a regular education teacher. School Psychologists are sometimes involved in the evaluation piece.

  • Private schools are not required to adhere to Section 504, but often offer an "Accommodation Plan."

  • School districts typically don't like to do it, but 504 plans can include designated types and amounts of related services (mental health, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy), and modifications

What questions do you have about Section 504 plans? Drop them in the comments below.

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