What is a 504 educational plan?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Education Law |

A 504 educational plan, named after Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law – and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution – receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. 

Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 does not require a public school to provide an individualized educational program (IEP) that is designed to meet a child’s unique needs and provide them with educational benefits. However, it does require a school to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of their disability.

Key elements of a 504 educational plan

Under Section 504, students with disabilities are entitled to receive regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet their individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met. This can encompass a wide range of accommodations, modifications, and services.

To be eligible for a 504 Plan, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including learning. This definition is broad and can include a range of conditions. The 504 Plan is developed by a team that understands the student’s needs. This typically includes educators, parents and sometimes the student themselves. The plan outlines specific accommodations, modifications or services the student will receive.

Parents and students have specific rights under Section 504, including the right to be involved in the development of the plan and the right to appeal or challenge decisions regarding the plan. Anyone who has questions about their rights under this section of the law can seek legal guidance at any time.