California students with disabilities have the right to obtain essential supports and accommodations to help them learn. Often times they can qualify to obtain an independent education plan (IEP) and/or a 504 plan to help support their education.
A 504 plan is different from an IEP, and we have discussed the basic differences between IEPs and 504 plans in previous blog posts. Here are three important details about 504 plans that parents should keep in mind:
1. Accessibility is the goal
IEPs are closely associated with special education for a reason – a child who receives special education must have an IEP. The same is not true for a 504 plan, which does not deal with special education, but instead focuses on providing accommodations within the classroom itself.
Students with 504 plans do not always require special education, but they do need certain accommodations to assist them at school. These accommodations could include:
- Extended testing times
- Taking tests in separate, quiet spaces
- Receiving less homework
It is common for children with dyslexia or ADHD to obtain 504 plans. These students may need accommodations for reading and writing, but not necessarily special education services, which makes a 504 plan a good fit for their needs.
2. There is still an evaluation process
While students do not have to meet a specific definition of disability to obtain a 504 plan, they do still have to go through an evaluation to obtain a plan.
Evaluations for 504 generally involve:
- Reviews of the child’s schoolwork
- Observations and interviews
- Reviews of medical records
3. 504 plans are legal contracts
As we have established, IEPs and 504 plans are different. However, both are legal contracts, which means that your child’s teachers must adhere to the plan and provide the necessary accommodations. As a legal contract, it is the teacher’s and school’s duty under the law to provide these services.