How can you ensure your child’s 504 plan meeting is productive? These tips will help you be proactive, prepared, and ready to participate in the meeting.
1. Make sure you’re invited.
Federal law doesn’t require schools to invite families to 504 plan meetings. However, most schools are happy to have you at the table, and most will invite you. Reach out to the school and make sure you have an invite. It’s a good idea to ask about the meeting early in the school year so you can get it on your calendar.
2. Pull and review your child’s records.
Review what you have, and look for issues that need attention. Where is your child making progress or still struggling? Which of the supports and services are (or are not) helpful? Are there any new challenges to report?
3. Think about accommodations.
There are many accommodations (or changes to how kids are taught) that can help students with 504 plans. To figure out which your child may need, consider all learning challenges, including organization and study skills.
If your child already has accommodations, do you think they’re effective? If not, are there different things the school might try? For example, a child’s assistive technology may need to be updated or changed. The school also needs to think about any new instruction and tools that might be more helpful for your child.
4. Help the 504 team get to know your child.
The school will put in place a 504 team to develop and update the plan. Although the team will have teachers and school staff, no one on the team knows your child the way you do.
During the 504 plan meeting, share what you know about your child’s personality, interests, strengths, and struggles. Describe how your child manages homework and studying for tests. Also, tell the team about any activities outside of school. This will give the school insight into your child’s abilities and interests. It also will remind the team to tailor the 504 plan to your child as an individual.
5. Ask for clarification.
Even if you’re well prepared, you may hear new terms and words during a 504 plan meeting. When this happens, ask for an explanation. You have a right to understand every detail and decision. You may want to ask in advance for notes to be taken during the meeting. Then ask for a copy of the notes.
6. Make sure the plan is complete and specific.
The rules for writing a 504 plan aren’t detailed, so schools have a lot of leeway on what to do. To get the best plan possible, ask the team to describe in detail what your child will receive. For example, a teacher or school staff member needs to be responsible for every service and accommodation listed in the plan. Their names should be included in the plan, too.
7. Ask for a copy of your child’s new 504 plan.
After the meeting, ask the 504 team to send you a copy of your child’s new 504 plan. Keep the plan in a safe but convenient place. That way you can look at it during the school year and take it with you to parent-teacher conferences.
Next, learn about common pitfalls for 504 plans.