Like the federal special education law IDEA, Section 504 requires schools to find and evaluate students who are believed to have disabilities. Schools must do so at no cost to parents. 504 plans are formal plans that school teams develop to give kids with disabilities the support and services they need to progress in school.
Not every child qualifies for a 504 plan. To get a 504 plan, your child has to have a condition that interferes with learning. A typical example is ADHD. A 504 plan may make changes — like frequent breaks in class — that help a child with ADHD focus.
A 504 plan is a blueprint for how the school will support a student with a disability and remove barriers to learning. The goal is to give the student equal access to instruction at school.
504 plans aren’t part of special education. So, they’re different from IEPs. 504 plans and IEPs are covered by different laws and work in different ways. But the end goal is the same: to help students thrive in school. One way 504 plans do that is through accommodations. For example, they might give extended time on tests or the ability to leave the classroom for short breaks. It’s less common, but some may also provide services like speech-language therapy or study skills classes.
What’s in a 504 plan?
504 plans often include accommodations. These can include:
- Changes to the environment (like taking tests in a quiet space)
- Changes to instruction (like checking in frequently on key concepts)
- Changes to how the curriculum is presented (like getting outlines of lessons)
Accommodations don’t change what kids learn, just how they learn it. The goal is to remove barriers and give kids access to learning.
Families or schools can request a 504 plan through the school district’s 504 coordinator. This person may also be the IEP coordinator. (Ask the principal if you’re not sure who to contact.) The request must be in writing.
Before writing this letter, identify your child's disability. Make a list of accommodations you provide, the teacher provides unofficially, or accommodations you think may help your child. Include these examples in your letter to the district. Sometimes including a note for a doctor or therapist can be helpful. For a sample. follow the link. https://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/504sample.pdf
The school team will hold a meeting to decide if the child qualifies and if so, what supports are appropriate.
Information obtained from the:
Understood.org 504 plans and your child: A guide for families https://www.understood.org/articles/504-plans-and-your-child-a-guide-for-families
What is a 504 plan? https://www.understood.org/articles/what-is-a-504-plan