Section 504 FAQ
It is important that the team build consensus during both the eligibility and planning phases of the 504 process. When disagreements occur regarding student eligibility, the team should refer to the advice of the person on the team who has the most knowledge about the disability and its impact on the student at school. Once the eligibility is established, accommodations should be designed so that the classroom teacher(s) can implement them with fidelity while meeting the needs of the student.
Or does she/he need a diagnosis from a doctor?
No medical diagnosis is necessary; however, if the parent has doctor reports, then the team can request them. Attention issues don't automatically qualify a student for 504, but if the data presented at the eligibility meeting demonstrates that the attention issues consistently interfere with the child's access to education, the child may qualify.
9. What are the guidelines for following the MTSS process before making decisions about creating a 504 plan?
It is important that school and district personnel involved in identifying concerns initially engage in the Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) process for the individual student. MTSS is a system for efficient instruction; a method for evaluating the needs of all students and fostering positive student outcomes through carefully selected and implemented interventions. It may also be used to assist the school in identifying students who may require more intensive instructional services and or be eligible for a 504 plan. School based teams must be astute and aware of the rights of students with disabilities. 504 team meetings should be immediately convened when a student presents with a noticeable and/or documented disability. In these cases, the MTSS process must not delay the convening of the 504 process.
Under Section 504, schools have a responsibility to conduct evaluations of students whom they suspect are disabled and potentially in need of accommodations. The school-based 504 team should include people knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options. The team members must determine if they have enough information to make a knowledgeable decision as to whether or not the student has a disability. The team is required to review and examine a variety of sources in the evaluation process so that the possibility of error is minimized.
- Post classroom rules and review with students on a regular basis.
- Create effective behavior modification plans.
- Work collaboratively with parents to ensure that the behavioral interventions used at home and at school are monitored closely.
- Stay consistent in setting behavioral expectations and following through on reinforcements/consequences.
- Create a behavior contract for the child.
- Ask the child to keep a daily journal to self-record behavior.
- Allow the child to participate in group counseling sessions with the school counselor or school psychologist.
- Implement a crisis intervention plan in case child is uncontrollable, impulsive, or dangerous.
- Give the child advanced notice of transitions.
- Create plans for handling unpredictable mood swings.
- Create rules that are clear, predictable, and administered fairly and consistently.
- Use a picture schedule so that the student can easily see the order of the day [and accompanying visual cues], and predict when transitions will occur.
- Avoid conflict by ensuring that academic work is on the student's instructional level—not too difficult, and not too easy.
- Blend non-desirable academic tasks with student-chosen rewards for compliant behavior.
- Utilize social stories and social skill lessons to ensure systematic instruction of appropriate anger management and conflict resolution skills. Role-play works well with children with and without the disorder.
- Structure lessons so that the child is required to positively work in peer groups. While maintaining order and predictability, along with monitoring the cooperative group, allow the child a chance to use his or her developing social skills.
- Stay busy, busy, busy! Transitions and time without specified tasks can be problematic, so adapt student schedules accordingly.
- Ensure that positive peer social interactions do in fact occur—do not let the child be selected last for a team, or remain standing alone after everyone has already paired off for an activity.
No medical diagnosis is required; however, a medical diagnosis provides a good piece of information for planning conversations. A documented print disability diagnosis is required for Bookshare, an accessible online library.