504 Plan: Everything You Need to Know
This refers to a blueprint written for the specific purpose of serving individuals with disabilities who fulfill the criteria stipulated by the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This act details the benefits accrued to them on the basis of their disability. These are formal plans that schools develop to provide children with disabilities the support they need.
It’s important to understand that 504 plans aren’t part of special education, and hence, they’re different from IEPs. IEPs and 504 plans are covered by different laws and operate in different ways. However, the end objective remains the same: to help students prosper in school. Unlike an IEP , 504 plans don’t include academic goals, measurements, or benchmarks, or the funds to back up the supports. These plans are tailored to the children’s specific needs and come with provisions to assess and document their progress in the classroom every school year.
Before parents can get a 504 plan to accommodate their kids, they’ve to go through the usually lengthy process of having a 504 plan approved and implemented. Sometimes, the school proposes the 504 plan for a kid that it sees can use a little additional help. Parents may also request a 504 plan if they observe a need or if a life event occurs that may affect their kid’s learning abilities.
First, parents need to contact the kid’s principal, teacher, and/or counselor with their concerns and to request the kid be evaluated for a 504 plan. Parents will often want to receive an official disability diagnosis from the kid’s pediatrician that they can share with the school. Then, the school follows its protocols. These generally involve assessing the child, documenting the kid’s disability, and defining a plan based on those findings. Testing or other evaluation tools are often utilized to determine the best supports for the kid and establish eligibility.
School districts typically have a coordinator to handle 504 plans and/or IEPs. Most of the time, a team is created to determine the plan. This team may include the student’s principal, teacher, counselor, and/or parents. Often, multiple meetings are conducted to confirm the child’s eligibility and then to develop and monitor the plan. There’s no need for a 504 plan to be written and what’s typically provided differs from one school district to another. However, most schools write up 504 plans to protect the student and themselves and to ensure that everyone is on the same page. For parents, it’s a smart idea to request that the school gives a written and signed 504 plan.