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). This education must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with aids and supports when necessary.
Modification are changes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate which, DO fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course. For example, an eighth-grade student in a small school uses a wheelchair. He could attend physical education with other eighth-grade students without disabilities. He would do the swimming with the rest of the class, but during the weeks the class played basketball he would do other exercises. This DOES change the course. Accommodation are changes which do NOT fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course. For example, moving an English class from the third floor to a classroom on the first floor so a student who uses a wheelchair can be in the class is an accommodation. Some people think schools are required to make only accomodations and not modifications. They are wrong.
Click here to go to the Caring for Our People staff training and learn more about 504 plans.