Who qualifies for a 504 Plan? 

Many children have barriers blocking them from fully accessing their education, which can be addressed with simple modifications and accommodations, rather than needing special education. Fortunately, federal law provides for these situations, under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Students who have a mental or physical condition that substantially limits a major life activity are entitled to a 504 Plan. The 504 Plan is a written document containing modifications and accommodations in the general education to allow qualifying students to fully access their education. These accommodations and modifications can be to the curriculum, the school setting, or the rules governing students, depending on the needs of the child. 

Examples of mental health conditions that could qualify a student for a 504 Plan include anxiety, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, OCD and others. Examples of physical health conditions that could qualify a student for a 504 Plan include diabetes, cancer, asthma, epilepsy, food allergies, and others. 

504 Plans are written to mitigate the negative impacts of a child’s disability on his or her education. Accommodations or modifications in a 504 Plan for a student who struggles in completing the curriculum might include preferential seating in the classroom, shortened assignments, the right to use a hall pass to see a designated person when the situation becomes overwhelming, extra time to complete assignments or the right to keep something at your desk to fidget with. For students who struggle with accessing the curriculum due to health issues the 504 Plan might contain things like the right to carry an EpiPen, medication, or insulin during the school day, or the right to go to the nurse without first getting permission to get those things. A student with mobility issues might get a key to the school elevator if he cannot use the stairs. The accommodations and modifications in a 504 Plan should be tailored to address the underlying issue preventing the student from accessing his or her education. 

If you feel your child qualifies for a 504 Plan, you have the right to ask the school to provide an evaluation of your child. If the school refuses to provide an evaluation, you disagree with the outcome of the evaluation, or you disagree with the contents of your child’s 504 Plan, you may want to contact an attorney, such as one with legal aid. While we may not have the staff to provide full legal representation to all low-income families of children with disabilities, we can give advice and point you in the direction of further resources. Our services are always free to income-eligible families. 

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