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A 504 plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Section 504 is actually a civil rights law designed to prohibit the discrimination of any individual with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act by any program that receives federal financial assistance. Section 504 doesn’t just apply to school settings. It applies to employment opportunities as well, but this page refers to the role of Section 504 in schools. Under Section 504, Indiana students with disabilities cannot be denied access to the academic and extracurricular activities of their non-disabled peers simply because of their disability. Children who do not have an IEP may be eligible for certain accommodations under a 504 plan.
- Compliance to Section 504, which is a federal statute, is not optional.
- Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
- Section 504 covers students whose disabilities significantly limit their daily lives and activities in one or more ways. These ways may include, but are not limited to:
- Caring for oneself
- Functions related to the immune system, brain, respiratory system, and reproductive functions, among others
- Indiana requires that parents interested in having their child tested for eligibility need to express their interest to the school in writing, and the school must respond to that request within 10 days. After that, the initial screening process can begin. The response from the school should require an evaluation timeline, a description of the procedures that will take place, and how the parents can receive more detailed information (which may include a meeting) from the school.
- Once a school has determined the area of needs for the child, the district will need parental consent to move forward with the process. The next step is an evaluation of the student’s needs, conducted by the multidisciplinary team, or M-team.
- Indiana law specifies that the evaluation report must include information about the following, when applicable:
- Student development
- The student’s ability to obtain information
- Achievements in school
- Behaviors and function in class
- Communication, social, and motor skills
- Medical and mental health information
- Using the child’s disability or disabilities, the M-team can create a 504 plan. A student’s plan must meet their individual needs, and outline all recommended accommodations. Parents need to approve the plan before it can be put into action. Reevaluations must occur once every three years and are mandatory before any changes to the plan can be made.
- Accommodations may include:
- Medical administration, or testing of blood levels
- Access to services in alternative locations
- Use of tape recorders, calculators, and/or digital books
- Note taking
- Alterations to class scheduling
- Modified tests, homework, and classwork
- A behavior management plan
- Time modifications for assessments
- Certificate of Incapacity and 504: Cathy Danyluk with the Indiana Department of Education, who clarified that this is a confusing issue, but that a 504 is NOT required (Counselor Talk, November 2017)
Parent and student behavior components: many of us are writing parent and student behavior components into 504s. However in reality, we can not force parents to follow them. By writing it in the 504 we are acknowledging that parents and students have responsibilities but that is as far as we can go.
- Students suffering from anxiety and depression, affecting school attendance:
Our special education cooperative representative…explained that an adjusted schedule/attendance plan could be a  accommodation. We required medical notes with statements recommending the adjustment. We had our building principal attend the 504 meeting to be sure the parents were on the same page as far as the seriousness of there actually needing to be effort put into getting this student into the building. With an emphasis being that the more time spent out of the building then the more anxiety there will be when they return…Maybe a “guidance pass” could be part of the 504 as well. We provide a guidance pass as an accommodation for students that need to get out of class and take a quick break for one emotional reason or another. (Counselor Talk, Sept. 2017)
- For an example of Section 504 Conference Committee Report, click here
- Wrightslaw and Section 504
- 504 Plans in Indiana
- FAQ from USDOE
- Section 504- Family Voices Indiana
- A parent’s guide to Section 504 in public schools
- 504 Plan Template (Sample) and Example of a 504 Plan
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This post was created by EFGH ContentManager on August 7, 2016.