Parent and Educator Resource Guide to 504
Section 504's main emphasis in the school is equal educational opportunity, which is mainly accomplished by providing appropriate classroom accommodations to eligible disabled students.
Section 504 also requires that eligible students are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in school extracurricular and nonacademic activities.
Section 504 is a nondiscrimination statute. The results of the disability must be that the student is unable to achieve equal access or benefit from the school's program and activities as compared to a nondisabled peer. The existence of a physical or mental impairment does not mean that the child automatically qualifies under Section 504.
What is a 504 plan?
A 504 plan is a legal document falling under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is designed to plan a program of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting. A 504 plan is not an Individualized Education Program (IEP). A student receiving 504 services is not guaranteed passing grades, making a team or unfair advantages: rather, that student is receiving 504 services due to a disability that affects him or her at school, and the plan’s purpose is to level the playing field so that the student has equal access to his or her available educational opportunities as those offered to peers.
Who will be a part of the 504 Committee?
The 504 Committee is comprised of a group of knowledgeable persons who have knowledge of the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options. It is not a fixed team; parents may participate but are not required to participate.
What is the purpose of the initial 504 meeting?
For the 504 Committee to determine if a student is eligible to be placed into the 504 program and devise an accommodation plan to be used in the classrooms. A student may be considered eligible if a student has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity that impacts school functioning, which may go beyond academic functioning.
What does the agenda look like for an initial 504 meeting?
Reason(s) for referral and referral source
Does the student have impairment? Not a diagnosis, but an educational finding
Does the disability affect a major life activity?
Does the effect rise to “substantial limitation?”
Teachers present relevant data that is specific to the student’s performance in the classroom
Consideration of privately-provided data
School-based data, including state testing performance
Parent input and/or data
Variety of sources must be used; no single source data
Does the student need a 504 services plan?
If the answer is yes, the committee devises a plan that links to need areas that is sufficient to equalize opportunity to learn and must retain curriculum elements
What is the purpose of the periodic reevaluation 504 meeting?
The 504 Committee will review the student’s accommodation plan that is used in the classrooms. An annual review is not required by federal law but is considered best practice to review student needs on a yearly basis. A reevaluation is required every three years.