If your child is having difficulty learning and struggling in school, and doesn’t qualify for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a 504 plan may be a good alternative. 504 plans stem from Section 504 in the federal civil rights law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It provides protection against discrimination for individuals with documented (mental or physical) disabilities. Section 504 is designed to provide equal access and fairness in the general education setting. The overarching aim of a 504 plan is to remove any barriers enabling a student with a disability to access the same Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as their peers.
A 504 plan provides accommodations to general education students so that they can access the curriculum. An IEP provides a specialized program of instruction to students who have been identified under the law as having a particular educational disability. Many students require 504 accommodations but not IEP services. For example, if a student has poor vision, they may simply need 504 accommodations in the general education setting so that they can see the blackboard.
A student may be entitled to a Section 504 plan if they have been identified and the evaluation shows that the individual has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., caring for oneself, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, learning). This determination is made by a team of knowledgeable individuals at the school, including the parents, who are familiar with the student and his/her disability. If you believe that your child may be eligible, you should contact your school and request a 504 eligibility meeting.
For more information, please review the City Schools parents’ guide to Section 504 in addition to visiting the following website.
If you have concerns about the manner in which 504 decisions have been made by your child’s school or the manner in which accommodations have been delivered, you may contact Wendy Barnes at City Schools by email (WNBarnes@bcps.k12.md.us) or call 443- 642-4247. You may also complete a 504 complaint form.