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SECTION 504: When You Don't Need Special Education but You Still Need Help

You may hear that a student does not qualify for special education but has ‘a 504 plan’.

What is 504 and what is a 504 plan? A 504 plan guarantees a student has an equal opportunity to a free public education that meets his needs and that, as much as possible, is in 'regular' classes with students without disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 insures that all qualified persons have equal access to education regardless of the presence of any disabling condition.

Physical accommodations in classroom and lab space, course substitutions, changes in classroom presentations, and modifications in testing and all possible ways to provide access for students with disabilities. This includes secondary and post-secondary education institutions.

The law provides for individual modifications and accommodations for people with disabilities attending high schools and colleges. By law, individuals with disabilities are to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) through high school, just like people without disabilities. This education must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with aids and supports when necessary.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not apply to colleges. If a college has a special education department, it is teaching people to be special education teachers! This does not mean a student with a disability has to sink or swim with no help at all. Most larger schools have a Disabled Students Center, Student Support Center or other program to provide assistance.

In our experience in higher education, we have met professors who believed that students who require accommodations 'should not be here' or 'are not college material'. Not only are those attitudes wrong, they are illegal.



Next page, what are accommodations and modifications?

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
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