What is Section 504?
Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against children with disabilities. This law ensures the child has equal access to education. This law also provides accommodations to students that meet this criterion.
Unlike IDEA, 504 does not require the school to provide the student an Individual Education Program designed to accommodate the unique learning needs of the child. Under 504, the child has fewer safeguards than they would under IDEA and an IEP. 504’s do not provide personal instruction or special education to the child. The goal of the 504 is to remove barriers for the child so that they can learn alongside their peers.
Examples of accommodations under a 504 may be that the child can have more prolonged times for taking tests, they may be able to take more breaks, or they may get different seating to help them focus while they are learning.
A 504 is much less stringent than an IEP, and schools are not required to put the 504 in writing (though most do), and there are no set guidelines for what a 504 should look like for a student.
The primary difference between an IEP and a 504 – is there is no special education as a part of the 504. They are required to make accommodations to meet the needs of the child – they are not required to make modifications.
How does my child get a 504 plan?
The process for obtaining a 504 is much easier than an Individual Education Program. To qualify for the 504, a child does not need a full assessment or testing. Many schools will do a thorough exam, but they are not required. If it is determined the child does not meet special education requirements, the parents and 504 or IEP coordinator can work together to determine if the 504 is the right option. The school and administrators may consider items like testing scores, medical diagnosis, grades, and if a teacher has made any recommendations to help improve the child’s experience.
Contact your child’s principal or district administrators in writing if you would like to be reviewed under section 504.
What are my Child’s Legal Rights?
Under the Section 504 – your child is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education. This is a civil rights law designed so that your child is not discriminated against due to their disability. The law ensures your child receives accommodations that enable them to get the same education as their peers.
However, this law does not provide the same level of safeguards as an IEP. If modifications or assessments are done on a child’s plan, a school is not required by law to invite the parent to meetings. Parents do have the right to know when their child will be assessed, and they also have the right to review their educational records.