The 504 Plan comes from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is designed to ensure students with disabilities have access to their education. This includes students with medical or physical disabilities, as well as some students with attention and emotional challenges.
In other words, if your child is able to learn in the regular classroom but may need some extra support to do so, a 504 Plan will put those supports in place.
What are some reasons to get a 504?
504 Plans are quite common. Here are some typical reasons for a 504 Plan:
- A child has a seizure disorder and needs a specific response protocol
- A child has an illness that requires periodic absences from school and may need take-home work prepared or support coming back into school after an absence
- A child with ADHD needs frequent breaks and opportunities to move in the classroom
- A child with visual difficulties needs larger print text and choice seating in the classroom
- A child with anxiety needs to take tests in a quiet environment to avoid panic attacks
- A child with asthma needs a modification in their physical education requirements
How to Get a 504 Plan
- Talk to your child’s teacher to see if they share your concerns. If you have an opportunity for a parent-teacher conference – take it. The teacher can be your child’s best advocate when they have needs that aren’t being met.
- Request a Student Study Team (SST) meeting. This team – which includes you, the parents – will discuss the strengths and challenges of your child and come up with some possible interventions. Bring any documentation you have regarding your child’s disability for the team to consider. Depending on the nature of the disability, the team may wish to try some classroom interventions first, or a direct referral to the 504 team may be made.
- Request a follow-up meeting 6-8 weeks later to learn about your child’s progress towards the goals set at the previous meeting. The team is likely to offer higher levels of intervention if your child is not responding or improving.
For most students, this process is sufficient to get the support they need to be successful in school. If you have met with the school, implemented supports and interventions, and your child continues to struggle, it may be time to request a higher level of support. Continue with the following steps:
- Write a letter requesting an assessment for a 504 Plan. Give a copy of this letter to the principal. Click here for a sample letter template.
- Meet with the 504 Team. The 504 Team may consist of the principal and your child’s teacher, or there may be a separate coordinator. The team will determine if your child qualifies for a 504 Plan. Just like in Special Education, you have rights which will be explained to you and a plan will be created to support your child.
- 504 Plan vs Special Education: What’s the Difference?
- At a Glance: Your Rights in the 504 Plan Process from Understood.org
If you run into roadblocks or have questions about 504, please feel free to give me a call!