I have received several telephone calls over the past few weeks from anxious parents about their child’s school wanting to create a 504 Plan in the academic setting. Many times parents are not informed about what this means or about possible benefits that might be exhibited from such a plan.
What is a 504 Plan?
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 which was designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in any facility that receives federal financial assistance. What this means for a school age child is that the school is unable to deny academic services to a child because of a specific disability. These plans were originally established for children with medical concerns such as being confined to a wheelchair or having a medical condition such as a seizure disorder. Today, it is quite likely that the main reason 504 Plans are offered to children are from diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
How do 504 Plans and IEPs Differ?
There are a few major differences between a 504 Plan and an Individual Education Plan (IEP). A child with an IEP has significant academic concerns in which he or she requires intervention from either a learning resource teacher, or specific therapist such as a speech and language therapist. The 504 Plan should be thought of as accommodations within the classroom setting to help address the specific concerns that a child may exhibit. These accommodations are designed such that the child’s academic demands are the same as his or her peers but there is assistance given such that the child can reach his or her academic potential.
In review, the 504 Plan is based upon a medical condition that results in an impact in the child not performing to his or her potential in the classroom setting. The goals of the plan are to create accommodations in the classroom that help address the areas of concern that are exhibited by the child. For more information, click here to watch the webinar From Assessment to Accommodation | Making the Most of Your Child’s IEP.