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504 Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

Updated: Jan 26

I recently stumbled across a fabulous resource for those students with an Individualized Plan served under Section 504.



This fabulous little guide (33 pages total) was written by TEA (Texas Education Agency) for practitioners (educators) as a handy dandy go to guide for best practices, checklists, and legal requirements when it comes to 504 plans.


Frequency of Meetings

This section explains that 504s are expected to be held "periodically" to "reevaluate" progress. It goes further to break down the types of meetings that are held under Section 504.

page 13


Responsibilities of Each Member of the Committee

The responsibilities of different groups and participating members of the committee are clearly outlined and stated.

page 13


Accommodations

Accommodations are clearly defined as changes in how students can access the academic content and the physical environment in the classroom. In other words, the accommodations serve as a "bridge" between the student and the curriculum/instruction. It goes on to explain that accommodations should address ALL areas impacted by the student's disability including academic, behavior, and testing.


Furthermore, it goes on to outline what you should expect from your school in regard to your child's 504 plan.

page 20


AT STUDENT REQUEST

This guide clearly and explicitly states that 504 plans should AVOID adding phrases like "at student request" to accommodations. If the committee has determined an accommodation to be necessary to provide FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) it MUST be provided to the student as opposed to "requiring the student to request them".


page 21


Amen and Hallelujah!


Choosing Accommodations

The guide gives explicit instructions about how accommodations are to be chosen based on the impact of the disability/impairment on the individual student's ability to access the aids and supports in the general education curriculum and environment (including extra curricular activities) and worded in such a way that remove the barriers to access it.


It even gives a quick tip that accommodations should be written clearly and specifically so that teachers can easily implement them with fidelity.

page 20


It even gives some truly fabulous examples of well written accommodations versus not so well written accommodations.

page 21


I have been in quite a few 504 meetings in which it has been argued that "simple" accommodations are best. Or that accommodations should match "state testing guidelines". I truly appreciate that this guidance document, written by TEA for practitioners (i.e. educators) clearly states that should NOT be the case.


Additional Aids and Services

I truly appreciate how it clearly lays out auxiliary aids and services that are available for students based on being deaf, blind, or hard of hearing. Often parents will ask for these supports only to be told that they aren't provided through 504 support. This guide from TEA indicates that is absolutely NOT the case.

page 22


Advanced Placement/Dual Enrollment Courses and 504

TEA guidance clearly states that ALL academic programs that are provided by the school that lead to getting credit (or a grade) is subject to FAPE. If a student with a disability requires accommodations in an advanced or dual enrollment course they MUST be provided with those accommodations as long as the "advanced nature of the course is not altered".


page 24


It goes on to discuss what legal protections and practices are best for students under 504 who face disciplinary consequences because of their disability.


It also gives a checklist and guide for best practices when determining if a child should receive homebound services and supports because of their disability. Children can receive homebound services (where a certified teacher comes to your hours a specific number of hours per week) for physical as well as mental health disabilities through section 504.


It gives guidance on how to navigate having a health plan and a 504 plan on pg 27 and how to resolve a disagreement and your legal rights to do so on p. 28.


I am so happy that I stumbled across this little gem!


If your child has a 504 plan in Texas I hope that you will take a moment to read through this handy dandy little 504 Technical Guide.




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