A Section 504 plan provides kids who have learning disabilities with accommodations that allow them to participate in the general curriculum at school.
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination against any person with a disability at an institution that receives federal funding, including schools and colleges. (This includes many private schools as well as public ones.) Kids who have a disability that limits them in speaking, listening, concentrating, reading or writing qualify for accommodations under Section 504.
A Section 504 plan could entitle kids to a wide range of accommodations, including:
- Special seating
- A quite place for testing
- Extra breaks
- The use of a computer
- Different textbooks
- Different testing formats
What happens at a 504 planning meeting
If your child qualifies for accommodations, there will be a 504 planning meeting to establish the accommodations the school will provide. Parents aren’t legally required to attend these meetings, but it is a very good idea to go to them. The meeting typically also includes the school’s 504 plan coordinator and either the principal or another member of the school’s administration.
Some schools have standard 504 plans for kids with certain disabilities. The standard plan may sound like a good fit for your child, but if you think it isn’t tailored enough to your child’s strengths and weaknesses, let the school know. This planning meeting is an opportunity to discuss what has and hasn’t helped your child in the past, suggest new ideas and ask questions.
At the end of the meeting, ask for a formal list of the accommodations that your child will be receiving.
Staying involved afterward
Check in with the school to monitor if your child is getting the accommodations they are entitled to. If you have concerns, bring them up to your child’s teacher or the school’s 504 coordinator.
Your child’s 504 plan should be reviewed and updated every year. Talk to the 504 coordinator early in the school year to set up the 504 planning meeting for a new year.
Return to Connect to Care for more information about getting kids help.