Do you know what a 504 Plan is? It is not the same thing as an IEP. However, it could be used to help your child in an academic setting. This might be especially useful to have if your child is transitioning from the special education program to a “mainstream” classroom.
A 504 Plan is a legal document that fits with the provisions of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
You may already be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act states that no one who has a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities. Elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education is federally funded. In this context, “disability” means “physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities”.
A 504 Plan is not the same thing as an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is designed specifically for one student. It is put together by a team of the child’s teachers, parents, support staff, and school administrators. The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports and services for a student who has a disability. All students who are in a special education program are required to have an IEP.
The 504 Plan is not something that all students in a special education program are required to have. In part, this is because the IEP will do everything the 504 Plan can do, and more. A 504 Plan could be used for a student who is making a transition from a special education program to a placement in regular education. It can also be used for a student who does not have any special needs, but could still benefit from having his or her education modified in some way.
A meeting to set up a 504 Plan will involve the student’s parents, teachers, and any support staff that are assisting the student while he or she is at school. For example, a diabetic child might have the school nurse attend her 504 Plan meeting. In some cases, the student’s physician may be asked to attend.
The creation of a 504 Plan results in appropriate modifications to a student’s education. This could be done in a variety of ways. A diabetic student’s 504 Plan might specify that he or she is allowed to eat while in the classroom. A student who requires a wheelchair might have a 504 Plan that states that his or her classroom must have a desk that the student can comfortably use.
The plan could allow a student to leave a classroom in order to go to the nurse’s office to take medication. Or, it could reduce the amount of homework that a student is required to complete. It all depends on an individual child’s needs. Once the 504 Plan is created, teachers are required to implement the plan, to follow the strategies listed in it, and to participate in the review process.
Image by Kevin Wong on Flickr