Ask the Experts

504 Plan Gone Awry: What Parents Can Do

“My son’s school schedules 504 Plan meetings too late in the year to keep him on track with classroom supports. What are his educational rights, and how can I work with school administrators to change this?”

Section 504 regulations have no provisions for when a meeting should take place. The school coordinator may be following the school’s or district’s own policy regarding the timing of the meetings, but there is nothing in the regulations that requires that meetings be in November or any other time of the year.

Here’s what you can do. The easiest thing is to provide all teachers with a copy of the current (though somewhat dated) 504 Plan when school starts in August or September. The school should be doing this, but there is no reason why you can’t do it as well. This may trigger a reaction from the school, good or bad, but it does assure that the information gets to the teachers.

A second option is to request a 504 meeting immediately before or at the start of school year. Have a reason for holding the meeting other than just wanting teachers and school administrators to be aware of your son’s 504 Plan. But even if you don’t, the school will be in a weak position if they ignore your request.

If neither of these options work, a third option is to threaten complaining to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. If you have proof that some teachers don’t know about your son’s 504 Plan and, as a result, it isn’t being implemented, it may be a violation of the student’s right under Section 504 to a “free appropriate public education.”

Let the school know about your concern and intent to file a complaint with the Department of Education. When they know how serious you are about this, they may be willing to work with you.

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