Section 504 is a Federal Civil Rights Law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Children that qualify under this law receive services and/or accommodations in the public school system without being classified under IDEA and their school district’s Committee on Special Education.
IEPs (Individualized Education Program) and 504s are similar, and it is easy for families to become confused about the differences. The most important difference to remember is that an IEP is a specialized education program while a 504 is a specialized education program usually within a general education setting. A child that qualifies for a 504 plan may have any disability (unlike IDEA) such as learning or attention issues. To qualify for a 504, the disability must interfere with the child’s ability to learn in a general education classroom. This is why a child that doesn’t qualify for an IEP might still be able to get a 504 plan.
504 plans have no set rules or standards as far as who creates the 504; no notice has to be given in writing, nor does a plan have to be formally written (but most schools will still put it in writing).The 504 plan should detail what accommodations or services the child will receive, who will provide those accommodations, and who will oversee the plan.
Schools must notify families about changes or evaluations that will be done in conjunction to the 504. A 504 is reviewed every year or when needed. 504s do not receive extra funding from the government for eligible students. However, the government is allowed to take funding away if a school does not comply with a 504. If your child is not found eligible for a 504, there are ways to try and resolve the dispute such as mediation, alternative dispute resolution, impartial hearing, a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights, or a lawsuit.
More Resources about Section 504: