In this day and age, we are all very aware that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. Just because your child isn’t in a wheelchair or needing resource room assistance doesn’t mean he or she may not need a helping hand now and again. Perhaps your child has test anxiety, needs help with reading or is easily distracted by other students. In cases where a child’s disabilities don’t warrant special education or the creation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), you have still have options.
Your kid still needs extra help. Luckily, there’s an Act for that.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based upon disability of any individual – in the workplace or classroom. In schools, Section 504 of the Act provides a way for students to get the assistance they need to succeed in spite of their disabilities.
There are a few important things to know about putting a 504 plan in place for your child.
Many schools have standard plans in place. Don’t sign off on the cookie cutter plan before meeting with guidance counselors and teachers to make sure your child’s needs will be met with the standard plan. Every child is different. If your school’s plan provides for extra reading time for students with learning disabilities, your kid with dyslexia may or may not benefit from the extra time. He or she may perform better with specific coaching or specialized audio books, for example.
Section 504 is based on impairments, short or long-term disabilities. This means your child may need extra help for a short time because of a broken leg or a behavioral issues. On the other hand, Attention Deficit Disorder may be a longer term impairment requiring ongoing 504 planning.
It’s important to know that while parents can request 504 accommodations for their children, they cannot demand them. Once a request is made, the school’s child study team will generally review the request and make determinations at that point. Each school has a decision-making body to make these decisions, using the district’s rules for Section 504 implementation. Likewise, if the school determines a child requires 504 accommodations, it doesn’t have to “clear” the 504 plan with the parents.
Of course, in the best case scenarios, teachers and parents work closely together to ensure that each and every child is getting the assistance needed so they are receiving an appropriate education.
A final thought: don’t back down if your school says it doesn’t offer Section 504 accommodations. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is not optional; all schools must make allowances for students covered by this federal law. If you are having trouble getting the assistance your child needs, contact an experienced special education discrimination lawyer who will make sure your child’s needs are met to the letter of the law.
The experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Posternock Apell, PC will fight for your child’s rights every step of the process. Your child’s education is our priority. Contact us today for a consultation about your child’s special education needs. We can help.