504 plans

Does My Child Need to Be Evaluated to Get a 504 Plan?

By Barbara Hubert

A pediatrician diagnosed my son’s ADHD. Does my son need to be evaluated by the school to get a 504 plan?

Barbara Hubert

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

Yes, he does. The school will look at a variety of information to make sure your child is eligible for a 504 plan. But this evaluation process can be less formal than the one for getting an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

To be eligible for a 504 plan, your child has to have a disability that interferes with his ability to learn or to access school programs. (A learning or attention issue can qualify as a disability.) The term “504 plan” comes from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities.

For example, if a child is in a wheelchair and can’t get upstairs, then the school needs to schedule his classes on the first floor so he can access them. If your child has ADHD and needs help managing his behavior in the classroom, then the school has to create a plan to help him.

Each school district must have a written 504 policy. The evaluation process might differ from district to district. But all districts have to obtain information about a student from a variety of sources. A medical diagnosis can be one source. Other sources might include teacher recommendations and test scores.

You can request a 504. The school can too. Either you or the school staff can reach out to the district’s 504 contact person. This referral has to be done in writing.

A 504 plan can be a good option if your child has an identified disability, like ADHD, but it doesn’t impact his learning in ways that qualify him for special education services. A 504 plan might also be a good option if your child is receiving informal accommodations or ongoing support at school.

About the Author

Portrait of Barbara Hubert

Barbara Hubert an adjunct instructor at Hunter College, teaches grad students how to create supportive, accessible, inclusive classrooms.

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