Who Knows What About a 504 Plan?

Updated on September 27, 2012
M.G. asks from Olathe, KS
13 answers

Hi moms,

Question for you but a little background 1st.

My daughter is in 5th grade. From 1st through 3rd grade we had developmental meetings with her teacher and various folks from her school (counselor, tutors, occupational therapist, principle) about every quarter to discuss her progress, find ways to help her through her struggles etc. In short, she really struggles with paying attention and speeds through her work - therefore we found ways to slow her down, did independent testing instead of class testing so someone could monitor her etc. Once she would slow down, she would do great on the work.

4th grade came and throughout the year we didn't have to meet with the school once. She did really well in and out of class. She still struggled a bit, but overall didn't have too many issues. Her grades (actual letter grades) stayed up.

We are now in 5th grade and she is doing very poorly - her homework (that she tells us about) is getting 100%s, but her tests are scoring out at a D and between that and the homework she isn't telling us about she is averaging all D's.

Her 5th grade teacher is now recommending putting her on a 504 plan which from what I can read on the internet means special ed and that seems extreme; not something we have ever needed to do with her. I'm surprised she jumped to that instead of recommending regrouping as a team to talk it through.

Can any of you shed light on the 504 plan - what it really is, what it means, how it will impact her? Looking for any and all information before we meet with the teacher Monday.


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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all your great answers, this really helps clarify where we are at. We are meeting with her Teacher on Monday so now I know what we're walking into. Thank you!!

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answers from El Paso on

A 504 is not an IEP. While it falls under the broad heading of SPED, keep in mind that gifted programs technically fall under SPED, as well.

A 504 is generally used for students that don't actually qualify for special help under an IEP heading, but have some other issue. Kids with diabetes have 504s, as do kids with learning disabilities and less severe cases of ADD.


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answers from Bloomington on

I have taught elementary and was the 504 Liasion in the school.

A 504 plan is a document that guarantees that your daughter gets some accomodations and modifications that she needs, but IS NOT considered special education.

An IEP is the official document for special ed. It requires testing and qualifing. Federal money is spent to help the child with interventions (one-on-one therapy, help, etc), time spent in a resource room, and individualized support.

A 504 plan is a document created to support your child's right to education. If a person has an official diagnosis from a doctor that prohibits him/her from learning, the document is written to protect him/her. For instance. If a student has a broken leg and needs extra time to get between classes, the document protects the student's rights from being penalized for tardies, or points taken off for being tardy, etc.

Simply put, it is "common sense on paper" for your daughter. The things you mentioned that you did before would be things you would put on this document.

Imagine a teacher that isn't understanding of a student's unseen diagnosis of ADD. The student cannot stay organized and needs his backpack with him to stay organized. The 504 plan would list this. The student cannot be penalized for having his backpack if the school rule is NO backpacks in the classroom (often a rule in some schools).

Schools are required to start the process within 30 days once a parent or teacher mentions wanting a plan.

I would highly suggest you go through with the plan. It will allow you to list the things that the school can do for you that doesn't actually require money (no extra staff help) and PROTECT your daughter, especially as she enters middle school.

A plan is good for one year at a time and can be revamped as often as possible.

Again, the plan can only list things that do not cost money or extra time from the teacher. (Sitting close to the teacher, allowing more time for assignments or tests (not standardized testing from the state), extra peer help, a specialized homework journal, etc.).

Please let me know if I confused you or if you have more questions! I'm on pain meds now and am struggling to concentrate! Lol.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

A 504 plan falls under a federal civil rights law guaranteeing equal access to educational services for those with a disability. You have to have one of 13 or so specific disabilities to get an IEP, which fall under the IDEA laws. If your disability is not on that list but does significantly impair a major life function, then you can get a 504 plan, which can include both medical and/or educational accommodations. There are lots of sites out there devoted to 504 plans and IEPs.
Your local PTI center can give you lots of free info and technical support. I highly recommend calling them. They can also put you in touch with a parent mentor/advocate to help you interface and negotiate with the school

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answers from Albuquerque on

Oh no - a 504 is not special ed. It can be a fantastic written document that guarantees that your daughter will get the help she needs. All of the teachers prior to this year have been accomodating but you don't know that all of the future ones will. This year's teacher is helping you document your daughter's struggles and needs so that she (the teacher) will be allowed to provide assistance for tests, maybe some extra tutoring, etc.

For what it's worth, 504s cover all sorts of things. My kindergartner has a 504 because she has a peanut allergy. It seemed a little silly to me, but the school was really adamant that they wanted to ensure she'd be safe in school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

A genius can have a 504 plan. It's basic goal is to make sure that the school is doing everything possible to help your child succeed. Whatever that might be. It's a very good plan to have because it will protect your dd at the end of the day.

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answers from Chicago on

an IEP (504) plan is not special ed. It is an individual education plan. it is exactly what it sounds like a plan to help your child succeed to the best of her ability. why would you want to deny your child something that would help her? a team of teachers can only do so much. they can't sit with your child non stop all day to make sure that she understands / is listening / cares about what is being taught. most classrooms have upwards of 20+ kids with one teacher. if your lucky there is an aide but most classes don't have one unless a child in the class has a 504 plan.

a 504 does not mean your child will be put in a hidden room in the back of the school and forgotten about. special ed as it was in the 70's is a far cry from what is now available. yes there are still children who are autistic or other behavior problems they are not shut in a closet. they are taught to the best of their own abilities. Does your child need to be in a special ed classroom? it doesn't sound like it. does your child need services it sounds like yes.

those services can be as little as having tests read to her verbally each time to having some resource time each day to keep caught up on things. does it have a stigma? yes it can if it is talked about in a degrading manner in your home. but if your child is upbeat about it then it won't be a problem. a child is not just "given" a 504. it is a process. child will be observed in a normal classroom setting by any or all of the following
teacher, school social worker, country special ed worker, principal, councelor etc. after they have all observed there may or may not be family / student interviews. test scores will be looked at. a doctor exam for vision, hearing, motor skills etc will be done. so that all available information is at hand. then a plan will be made. it will be a plan for the childs best interest.

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answers from Portland on

A 504 plan, from my understanding, is a plan for giving a child extra help. It is not special ed, per se, tho it can be a part of special ed. My granddaughter was on such a plan during which she was given tutoring in math and composition. She remained in her same classroom but went out for tutoring each week.

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answers from Kansas City on

It's been 8 years since I've been in the classroom, so my knowledge of 504 v IEP may be a little rusty. We are currently working on a 504 Plan for my 4 year old who will go to kindergarten next fall.

504 plans fall under civil rights. They help level the playing field for students with disabilities. My son has a heart defect. His 504 will address PE, climbing stairs, etc.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP) fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I believe there are certain disabilities that qualify for an IEP.

Regardless, you child will have to be evaluated. I know if your child qualifies for an IEP, you can't opt for a 504.

Please do not place judgements on special ed. It is a spectrum of disabilities. Just get your daughter the help she needs:)

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answers from Kansas City on

You have a lot of great answers! I see that you're in Olathe, so that means your daughter is headed to middle school next year. A 504 plan will be great for her future teachers; all of those accommodations will already be set in place with the 504 plan. Hopefully you won't have to go through these struggles again because the teachers will already see what she needs to be successful. Good luck!



answers from St. Louis on

I was on a 504 plan through middle and high school. It's designed to look at the individual child's needs and set up ways to help her succeed. The testing accommodations are a great example of what might go into her plan (we called them individual education plans, or IEPs), and it sounds like this will primarily be a step to help formalize the kinds of help you had previously arranged with her teachers.

I never received what might normally be termed ”special ed” services (my needs revolved around physical limitations related to a medical issue), but the plan helped me so much and ensured my teachers would consistently take my needs into consideration (rather than just those who decided to our deemed me as having a ”legitimate” problem). Getting it set up one year helped establish norms for the next, and when I moved to high school and then college the documentation made it so much easier to get me set up there too.

Usually the counselor, child's family (and when old enough, the child), and some or all of the teachers will attend, along with any specialists, and the process can utilize both structures that are already in place within the school as well as the occasional creative ”outside the box” idea when a norm is not already set (for example, allowing me to use a laptop computer long before this was considered in any way normal/acceptable in high schools).

I hope your daughter's 504 meeting goes well and that she is able to get the accommodations she needs to be able to succeed. Good luck, and remember to breathe! : o)



answers from Oklahoma City on

I suggest you request the school to do developmental testing on her. If you can afford it or have insurance that will cover it you may want to have it done independently. We have a wonderful psychologist that is certified to do developmental testing and she was able to spend much time with our grandson. We also took him to the ABC clinic through the pediatric department at OU Health Science Center. They were very helpful in determining what services would be best for my grandson.

The school may have an ulterior motive, to get her pigeonholed and out of this teachers hair but they may also want to make sure that everyone is using the same language and on the same page with her.

For instance, if she is acting out in the classroom and the plan states that when she does XX she may be feeling like xxXxx. So to alleviate that the teacher should allow her to do CCXl. Then if she's doing the same thing in the lunchroom they should know about the plan and that she needs to also do CCXl. Not something else that might set her off even more.

Everyone that she comes in contact with should be aware of the plan and the strategies it has in it. If they aren't working the team meets again and refines it until it works better.



answers from Springfield on

I'm not sure what answers you've gotten because I don't have time to read through them right now, but my son has a 504. He has struggled with school and is now in 4th grade. At the end of last year a 504 was mentioned as a possibility to help him. It is just a modification and plan in writing that you and the teachers, counselor, and principal come up with that can help your child. My son's plan consists of allowing him more time to complete his work, and allowing him the option of taking tests in small groups or one on one with a teacher/aid. He was tested and it showed that he is capable of doing the work and is learning what he needs to know, but due to ADHD and some compulsive issues he is unable to "keep up" in the "normal" classroom. He worry's about finishing last or not getting done when his classmates are done and has panic episodes which derail any chance of getting work in on time. He has improved dramatically since this went in to affect. Different kids learn in different ways. He needs this modification to help him relax and pay attention to what he has to do. Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

A 504 plan is NOT special ed. An IEP is.

If she has a diagnosed disability but does NOT qualify for special education services, she can qualify for a 504.

A 504 plan really would just spell out all things like what you were doing before that the school will do to help her access the core curriculum. 504 plans are for general education students who require accommodations to succeed in school. For your daughter, that might mean one-on-one assessments, having a homework calendar where her teacher signs off about the nightly homework so that you know, some kind of preferential seating in the classroom so she has less distraction, etc....

It's NOT an IEP so she won't have access to specialized curriculum or services that are not available to general education students.One way to think about it is to imagine your daughter with a PHYSICAL disability. A 504 plan could require ramps, wide doors, and special seating in the classroom so that she can get in there to do the work, but it would NOT cover extra things like physical therapy.

You'll have a legal document about the supports she needs in regular classrooms in order to succeed (this is important because if she changes schools the 504 goes with her so you don't have to negotiate about what a new school will or won't help with... they have to follow the 504 plan).

Hope this helps.


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