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Examining 504 plans

If your child struggles in the academic environment but does not qualify for special education resources like an Individualized Education Plan, parents may want to examine having a 504 plan.

A 504 plan is similar to an IEP in that it provides a child with the tools and services he or she needs to succeed in school. However, there are differences that could make it a solid solution for a child struggling with disabilities like ADHD or hyperactivity.

What a 504 plan provides

As noted in this Understood.org article, a 504 plan is a plan to reduce barriers in a child's learning experience. Rather than making changes to the curriculum or modifications to grading practices, it allows for adjustments to the academic environment.

For instance, a 504 plan can dictate that a child should receive extra time on tests, activity breaks, a seat in the front of the class or a discreet cue from the teacher that allows him or her to get back on task. 

Challenges with 504 plans

While these plans can be successful and very helpful for a child, it does take work to make them effective. First, parents typically must request the plan through the district, though the school may also request it. Then, administrators will meet to determine if a child qualifies for a 504 plan. If so, they will also decide the appropriate measures.

Parents must also follow up to ensure the school follows through with the plan. In many cases, teachers and administrators start off complying with the plan. Over time, however, compliance can drop off dramatically, especially if it costs the school money or requires extra effort from educators. This can create conflicts with schools that adversely affect a student's education. 

As such, parents would be wise to be proactive when it comes to requesting, implementing and following up on a child's 504 plan. If there are issues at any stage, consulting an attorney may be helpful in determining your rights and legal options to ensure your child receives the services he or she deserves.

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