The 504 plans are a formalized set of accommodating services that schools develop under the guidance of the district to support the eligible special children to compete in academics. Its focus is on giving assistance to learners in areas where their daily activities may be hampered due to disabilities.
Being a reliable plan under the umbrella of the rehabilitation act, it answers and addresses many queries. Yet, there are some corners that seem to be open-ended and may sound like concerns for some parents and students. We listed out these insights to assist you in determining if you should take the 504 plan, and what areas to take care of while it is implemented.
504 Plan- Meaning and definition
A 504 plan is a strategy to assist eligible disabled children in modifying their mode of academics in school to the extent needed to patch up their disability. Most often, those who are constrained with some disabilities and are not eligible for IEP are considered under these accommodations.
504 plans are empowered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act. This section is a federal law that aims to eliminate discrimination and warrant the rights of disabled children through programs and activities that are governed by federal financial assistance. Here are a few key insights of a 504 plan:
- The accommodations focus on changes in the environment, instruction procedures, and curriculum. Also, supplementary aids are provided for needed students.
- Office of Civil rights (OCR) plays an important role in providing support to all members of the team, including teachers, parents, and students, to smoothly apply the accommodations.
- Physical or mental impairment that impacts academic progress is considered to decide the eligibility of the student.
504 Plan- Areas of Concern
Being an assistive provision provided by federal law, the 504 plan ensures to cover the majority of the corners to assist the special child. Nonetheless, there are a few areas that may not make a favorable option for some students or parents. Here are a few grounds that we feel are still open-ended in the 504 plan implementation:
1. Nature of Services are Grade oriented:
According to the US Department of Education, the nature of the student’s services for 504 changes with the level of education they are acquiring. It means that with an increase in grades, the student academics are adjusted into an affordable version. But it is not clarified what can be done if some of the previous challenges still exist.
2. May Conflict with military aspirants:
A person holding a 504 plan after their 14th birthday is not eligible for the military. In a 2018 report on medical standards for military service, the eligibility criteria are clearly explained and highlight that a person with an active 504 plan or a plan after the 14th birthday or with any comorbid mental disability is considered unfit for military service.
3. Chances of Gap between OCR and parents
The OCR does not review the results of the individuals unless there are extraordinary instances. If the school district is complying with the procedural requirements of section 504, the OCR will not interfere in between. Accordingly, OCR generally will not evaluate the content of a Section 504 plan or of an individualized education program (IEP); rather, any disagreement can be resolved through a due process hearing. The hearing would be conducted under Section 504 or the IDEA, whichever is applicable.
4. Withdrawal of the 504 Plan is not in Parent’s will
Withdrawal of the 504 plan is not in the hands of parents. Moreover, the whole process of withdrawal is not easy for the parents. If the caretaker feels that the accommodations presently applied are not required, the opinion should be put in front of the school district. However, the parent or guardian needs to undergo a long process of meetings and paperwork in this case.
5. Limited Scope for temporary and episodic disability
If the parents or the teacher identifies a temporary or episodic disability, the school district evaluates to determine if these shortcomings need provisions of 504. If these shortcomings are not eligible, students’ alternatives to resolve are not specified in case of temporary issues. However, they suggest FAPE for episodic challenges- ensuring an alternative.
Alternatives of 504 plan
If one of the above points sounds 504 unfavorable for you, you can see if your child is eligible for any other alternative provisions. There are multiple other assistive plans under federal law that can be credible to assist the youngster.
Having an IEP plan for the child can discern the list of achievable goals regularly. The IEP meetings conducted regularly revise the goal list addressing the new and the past issues and objectives- making them perfect for the child at that moment. Here, parents have an important role.
LRE and FAPE are a couple of other options that ensure supportive aids and modifications in settings and academic approaches. Parents can avail of all these provisions and no additional cost. In these options, the services application has an equal role for parents, teachers, and other team members.
Before we wind up…
504 Plan ensures to eliminate discrimination and provides supportive resources for special children. It has been effective to fill the gaps for several students. Nonetheless, parents should look into both the pros and cons of this implementation before deciding to opt for 504. Our insights mark a few areas where the provisions may seem open-ended. These may not impact some parents, but getting acknowledged with these insights can create a gripping value in the process.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,