Posted on 10/13/2017 at 09:53 AM by Liz Determan
Some of the most challenging aspects of Section 504 is the writing of the plan. Districts can find themselves in a great deal of conflict with families when they have written accommodations into a plan they are either unwilling or unable to provide. Section 504 plans are a legally binding document. Schools general education teachers MUST provide the accommodations, supports, and services identified in a Section 504 plan to meet the needs of students and prevent any discrimination.
Step One: Write a plan that clearly identifies and describes the disability the plan is designed to address.
Each student’s disability may have its own specific needs. Not every student on a 504 plan needs extended time, however, this is the most common accommodation I see on plans no matter what the disability.
Step Two: Write a plan that identifies accommodations that are specific, clearly defined, and doable.
Using specific language helps to ensure everyone has the same expectations of what the accommodations are, when they will be provided, how that will look to the student and parent, and when they will be reviewed to make certain the student’s needs are being met. If the accommodations identified in the plan are either not provided or not used by the student, then revise the plan. Do NOT leave accommodations in a plan that your teachers or staff are not providing. This requires a team meeting, but it is worth the time to have the Section 504 plan be an accurate reflection of what the school has committed to provide.
Step Three: Never use wording such as “as needed,” “when available,” “if possible,” or other language that leaves it completely open to someone’s interpretation.
This kind of phrasing is not good for staff, students, or parents. No one will know how to interpret when or how often an accommodation is provided based on this wording. This leads to misinterpretation and compliance issues.
Step Four: Gather data and include it in the plan.
When it is time to review Section 504 plans, it would be extremely useful for teachers and/or staff to provide information about how often specific accommodations are being used, what works well for the student, what things might need to be changed, and what things you might be able to eliminate because they were ineffective. Input from individuals who are familiar with the student can provide this kind of information and it will be extremely useful in writing a great Section 504 plan.
Remember, this is a SECTION 504 TEAM effort. Wrap it up with everyone signing off, whether they agree or not!
There is a good Section 504 Plan Template you can feel free to use on our website at: