At a glance
You can take steps to make sure the school delivers what’s promised in your child’s 504 plan.
Start by knowing who at school is responsible for the plan.
Help your child understand what’s in the plan, so your child can speak up if something isn’t provided.
Once the school has put a 504 plan in place for your child, how can you make sure the school delivers what it promised? Use these tips to monitor the plan throughout the year.
1. Know who’s responsible for the 504 plan.
A team of school staff is responsible for the supports and services in your child’s 504 plan. Make sure you have the names and contact information for everyone on the team, especially the school district’s 504 coordinator. If your child’s plan is written (as most are), staff members will be listed in the plan. Keep these names handy for any questions or concerns.
2. Help your child understand what’s in the plan.
One of the best ways to make sure the 504 plan is followed is by helping your child understand what’s in it. That way, your child knows what to expect, and to speak up if something isn’t provided.
Talk about the plan in concrete terms that match your child’s maturity level. It might be as simple as asking if all your child’s tests are in a “quiet room.” Or it may be more complex, such as discussing a certain assistive technology tool. Either way, you’re helping your child build self-advocacy skills. (Explore self-advocacy sentence starters your child can use.)
3. Check in with your child regularly on how things are going.
You can get a lot of information from your child about whether the 504 plan is being followed. For some kids, a direct question may work best: “Did you get the text-to-speech tool for this reading assignment?” Other kids may need a softer approach. For instance, you might try casually asking your child, “What book did you read in class? How did it go?”
Your child’s answer may tell you a lot about whether the 504 plan is being followed. Use this list of conversation starters to get your child talking.
4. Observe your child and review schoolwork and tests.
In some situations, kids won’t want to—or be able to—tell you about what’s happening at school. If that’s the case, you may need to read between the lines. Keep an eye on your child’s homework, graded assignments, and test scores.
Do you see signs that your child is using in the plan? If so, is there progress? Jot down any concerns you have, and observe your child at home. Does your child seem to feel confident or discouraged about school? Sometimes, what tells us the most is what kids don’t say.
5. Talk to your child’s teacher about the 504 plan.
To keep tabs on the 504 plan, it’s important to establish a good relationship with your child’s teacher. Typical parent-teacher conferences are often too short to have an in-depth conversation. Don’t be shy about asking for a separate meeting to talk. Here’s an example email you can use to reach out.
During the meeting, share any concerns based on what you’re seeing at home. Ask for an honest opinion about what the teacher thinks is and isn’t working in the 504 plan. And make notes to refer to when you meet with other school staff responsible for the plan.
Watch as an expert explains what to do if your child’s 504 plan accommodations aren’t being implemented.
6. Meet with the principal or the 504 plan team.
If you think the school isn’t providing the services and supports in your child’s 504 plan, speak up. Contact the school principal or ask the school district’s 504 coordinator for a meeting with the 504 plan team. During the meeting, be friendly but firm. Give school staff a chance to clear up any misunderstandings and correct any problems. If changes are needed, make sure they happen.
Need more help to get a 504 plan on track? Read about common pitfalls for parents of kids with 504 plans. Check out a list of common classroom accommodations for ideas on how to help your child. And follow these steps if your child’s 504 plan isn’t working.
Asking your child directly about the 504 plan may help you understand if it’s being followed.
You can also review homework and tests to see if the plan is working.
You can always ask for a meeting with teachers and school staff to check in on your child’s 504 plan.
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About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Melody Musgrove, EdD served as director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education.