Section 504: SCHOOL SAYS “NO” TO REQUEST FOR 504 ACCOMMODATIONS

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Jana: My 16 yr old grandson has been diagnosed ADHD and is on medication. I have requested to his school that he be placed in the 504 Accommodations Program. He is failing at least 2 of his classes. The school representative I spoke with said they could not put him in the program until all of his teachers had done an evaluation for 6 weeks to see if “they” thought he would benefit from the program. I was told the school is feeding me a load of crap. That with a Dr. diagnosis they can place him. Can I enforce my request?

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Jill G

Jana –

The school MUST evaluate your grandson before finding him eligible for a 504 plan. Although they can use information from a doctor as part of the evaluation, they cannot give him the 504 plan simply based on a diagnosis.

There is no rule that says the evaluation must be 6 weeks long, but that sounds like a reasonable amount of time to complete a comprehensive evaluation.

See here for more information on the 504 process: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html.

Sophie

Jill G is right, the gears turn slowly when it comes to considering eligibility. It can be very frustrating!

Two things to add here — first, make sure they give you the “consent to evaluate” form or letter ASAP, and that you sign it and return it right away. (Keep a copy.) Otherwise, who knows when the six weeks would actually start running.

Second, there is nothing whatsoever stopping them, in principle, from giving him the accommodations and extra help he needs right away. It should take no more than one week to set up a meeting with the principal where you can share your concerns about his academics (and anything else that may be a problem at school). After that meeting, it should take no more than one week for some of the agreed-upon forms of help to start taking place.

Sophie

(cont.)

Every school has its own systems in place for providing extra help, and its own terminology. The extra help might be called “AIS — academic intervention services”, it might be called “RTI — response to intervention”. It might be a conscientious, caring teacher working with him one on one once or twice a week after school.

If the willingness to help him be successful is there, they will figure out a way to help him. But remember, bring someone with you to the meeting and do your best to keep your cool.

The advantage of getting the accommodations documented in a 504 plan is that the plan will follow him as he changes grade, teachers, and school. But they do NOT need to have a formal 504 plan in place in order to get started with helping him.