504 Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked Questions about the 504 Plan

As we approach the beginning of another school year, we thought it would be helpful to bring to you attention some information about 504 plans.  Section 504 requires federally funded schools to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students.  These services must meet the same standard as those students without disabilities.  Any chronic health condition such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food allergies or Celiac Disease may constitute a disability under 504 due to the measures necessary for the child to succeed academically.  Therefore a student would not be penalized for unforeseen hospitalizations, frequent trips to bathroom, dietary modifications, or frequent doctor visits.

Here are some frequently asked questions about 504 plans and how to utilize a 504 Plan to help your student.

 

Question: How does a 504 plan differ from an IEP?

Answer: A 504 plan, which falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, is an exercise in civil rights, an attempt to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to participate freely. An IEP, which falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is much more concerned with actually providing educational services. Students eligible for an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, represent a small subset of all students with disabilities. They generally require more than a level playing field — they require significant remediation and assistance, and are more likely to work on their own level at their own pace even in an inclusive classroom. Only certain classifications of disability are eligible for an IEP, and students who do not meet those classifications but still require some assistance to be able to participate fully in school would be candidates for a 504 plan.

 

Question: How is a 504 Plan different from Homebound instruction?

Answer: Homebound instruction is meant to assist students in keeping up with their peers in the course of an acute health issue.  This means the student is temporarily not in proper physical or mental condition to attend a school program, but who can be expected to return to a school program upon termination or abatement of the illness or condition.  504 Plans are best utilized when a child has been diagnosed with a chronic health condition.  It is expected that issues related to the illness will affect their ability to keep up with peers academically.  There are times when it is appropriate to request homebound instruction even though a 504 Plan is in place.  An example of this is when a child is in a prolonged hospitalization.

 

 Question: How do I request a 504 Plan?

Answer: To request a 504 Plan, parents need to speak with the 504 Coordinator in their school and submit a note from their child’s doctor. The note should clearly state the disease, symptoms, and necessary precautions / accommodations. Without a doctor’s note, the school can deny your request. A meeting will then be arranged for the plan to be developed.  The document for the plan generally includes an explanation of the student’s disability and lists specific accommodations that will need to be made.  A copy of 504 accommodations is available on this web site which may serve as a guide for developing an individual plan for you child.

 

The following web sites provide more in depth information on 504 plans from a federal and state government level

http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

http://www.tennessee.gov/education/speced/doc/sesection504man.pdf

The following is a student advocacy site that may provide information on how to handle difficulties in the course of obtaining service for your child.

http://www.wrightslaw.com/