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Garvey Education Association
The Garvey Education Association is affiliated with CTA and NEA
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504 Plans and the Teacher

This page is for informational purposes only, and is not designed to cover or explain every
detail of the federal statutes and rules that govern Adjusted Regular Education (504) Plans

  1. Q. What is a 504 plan?

    A. An Adjusted Regular Education Plan or 504 plan is a legal document falling under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is designed to plan a program of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting. A 504 plan is not an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as is required for special education students, although all students with IEPs are already covered under Section 504. Section 504 does not require the school  to maximize a child's learning. For Section 504 purposes, the school will compare your child's performance to that of the average child without disabilities.

    While the law doesn't provide any new funding for programs and agencies that comply, it carries the threat of withholding federal funds from those that don't. Since public schools receive federal tax dollars, the law applies to them. It doesn't apply to many private schools because they don't receive any money from the federal government.

  2. Q. What students are eligible?

    A. Any student with a physical or emotional disability, or who is recovering from a chemical dependency, or who has an impairment (i.e. Attention Deficit Disorder) that restricts one or more major life activities.

  3. Q. What are examples of "major life activities?"

    A. Major life activities include caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and learning.

  4. Q. How is a student placed on a 504 plan?

    A. There are typically four steps in implementing a 504 plan.:

    1. Student is referred: This can be done by a teacher, support staff, parent/legal guardian, physician, therapist or the student.
    2. A 504 plan meeting is held.
    3. A plan for the student is developed.
    4. A review date is set.

    5. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, a meeting should be held within two weeks of the initial request.

  5. Q. What is the teacher(s) role/responsibility in the 504 placement process?

    A. If a teacher has a concern regarding a child's performance and/or behavior, and believes it is caused by a disabling condition, the teacher should initiate a referral after consultation with support staff and/or building administrators.

    Also, the teacher should participate in any meetings where a 504 plan may be developed. Additionally, the teacher should be ready to supply pertinent data and documentation such as test scores, discipline referrals, and anecdotal information to assist in the writing of the plan.

  6. Q. What accommodations might be included in the 504 plan?

    A. A 504 plan could include items listed below. This is not a exhaustive list.

    A child's seat assignment accommodates a disability.
    A diabetic child may be permitted to eat in the classroom.
    A child may be permitted to go to the office for the administration of medication.
    A student's assignments or testing conditions may be adjusted (i.e. extensions of time, modification of test questions).

    Note: This is a team process where all members of the team, not just the teacher, may have responsibilities in fulfilling the requirements of the 504 plan.

  7. Q. What if I disagree with the 504 plan or any of its components? What are my rights?

    A. If you disagree with the 504 plan you can:

    1.Express your views at the meeting and suggest alternatives.
    2. Refuse to sign the plan.
    3. Contact your site rep if you believe the plan alters your terms and conditions of employment.

  8. Q. Once the plan is approved, what are my responsibilities as a teacher?

    A. You are expected to reasonably follow the strategies written to implement the plan and to participate in the review process.

  9. Q. Can a 504 plan be altered?

    A. Yes. Make a written request to your building principal for a Pupil Personnel Team meeting. Send a copy to all who attended the meeting where the original plan was approved. In addition, be sure that there is a planned review date on the original 504 document as well as any amended document so that the effectiveness of the plan can be evaluated and adjustments can be made, if needed, at that time.

  10. Q. If I sign off on a 504 plan, how am I accountable?

    A. You are legally responsible to implement your designated accommodation/strategies on the plan. You are advised to maintain regular and consistent documentation to display that you have attempted to implement the plan. For example: You may keep a file of student work or write special notations in your gradebook, or maintain personal notes. Keep copies of any adjusted tests, assignments, behavior plans, and all notes to and from parents/legal guardians.

    Again, if the plan isn't working for the student, ask in writing for the assistance of support staff (counselors, nurses, psychologists, etc.). Also, some degree of accountability rests with the parents/legal guardians in following through. Do not accept the burden alone. Again, keep copies of all pertinent documents.

  11. Q. Can I call the union office with questions or concerns regarding individual students, placements, and 504 plans?

    A. Yes. We will advise and support. Ultimately, the union office will pursue the matter if students are not being well-served or if violations of contract occur. If you have a problem, the initial contact should be through the site rep who will follow up with the building principal and appropriate staff.