At Greenwood Law, one of our areas of focus is Special Education Law. We are always pleased to assist our clients in obtaining the best possible outcome for their children in the educational environment. Part of that area of practice includes the development of so called 504 plans.
To facilitate a helpful and beneficial learning environment for children in the educational environment, many people are interested in looking into possible accommodations. A 504 learning plan is a type of accommodation that helps students with disabilities or health conditions engage more effectively with the general education curriculum. It is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in federally funded programs.
A 504 learning plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are both types of accommodations that help students with disabilities or health conditions access the general education curriculum. However, they have some key differences that parents and educators should be aware of.
A 504 plan can provide various supports for students, such as extra time on tests, preferential seating, modified assignments, or assistive technology. The goal is to help students overcome the barriers that their disability or condition may pose to their learning and participation.
To qualify for a 504 plan, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as learning, reading, writing, speaking, hearing, seeing, breathing, walking, or caring for oneself. The impairment does not have to be severe or permanent to be eligible. This is as opposed to an IEP where a student must have one of the 13 disability categories defined by IDEA, such as autism, specific learning disability, or emotional disturbance. For an IEP, the disability must affect the student's educational performance and require special education.
A 504 plan is developed by a team that includes the student, the parent or guardian, the teacher, the school counselor, and other relevant staff. The team reviews the student's needs and strengths, and decides what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable. The plan is documented in writing and reviewed periodically.
It’s important to note that the timeline in Special Education proceedings tends to be very short, often measured in days. Take action quickly if you believe that the plan that has been developed needs to be modified or adjusted as failure to act may result in the loss of your ability to obtain satisfactory relief on appeal.
A 504 plan can be a valuable tool for students who need extra support to succeed in school. It can also help parents and educators collaborate and communicate effectively to meet the student's needs. If you think your child may benefit from a 504 plan and you have been denied, wish to preserve your rights, or would like to review your options, contact Greenwood Law at 309-517-5415.