Can School Refuse a 504 Plan After Requested by Child’s Doctor?

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Child's serious faceMy 7-year-old daughter is having anxiety attacks at school. She often has anxiety attacks during lunch in a large, noisy cafeteria. The cafeteria is not the only trigger for anxiety attacks; simply one example.

Her pediatrician diagnosed her with an Anxiety Disorder. He wrote a letter to the school requesting a 504 plan.

The school advised that they will “review the situation to see if a 504 plan is warranted”. If they decide my daughter is not entitled to a 504 plan, they will deny the doctor’s request.

The school did not contact the pediatrician about her anxiety problems or accommodations. Instead, they called a meeting of their ESAP team (team of teachers, speech therapist, nurse, guidance counselor, and principal) to determine if a 504 plan is “warranted.” They requested that I attend this meeting.

The school refused the doctor’s request for a 504 plan. How is this possible?

  1. The 504 team is made up of educational professionals. Every student could technically qualify for a 504 plan. You take your child to the doctor and tell them that they are having meltdowns and are anxious and you have yourself an anxiety disorder diagnosis.
    Some students with disabilities cannot access their education due to the disability. Therefore a 504 plan is needed. If your child has a diagnosis, but they are successfully accessing their FAPE, then why put them on a 504 plan. It can be stigmatizing and enabling. Let them succeed on their own if possible. Doctors are not the educators. It is a quick answer…”put your kid on a 504 plan. Here’s a letter for the school.” Professional educators don’t go into their doctor’s office and demand certain things from them, therefore doctors shouldn’t do the same. A doctor’s recommendation is one piece of the assessment process. Work as a team with your child’s school. That is what kids need more than anything.

  2. It’s important for parent to know their child’s rights with regard to 504s. All public schools receive funding for this. However, if the school has unused funds from this, the funds are placed back into the general fund. This is dangerous as it becomes an incentive NOT to provide a IEP or 504 for a child with need.

    • I am not aware of any federal funding for 504 students. Federal IDEA funds can not go into the general funds. In most states it is probably allowable to move “unexpended” state funding for these students into a district’s general fund.

  3. We just had an IEP meeting. The school said she has Autism, but her grades are good so they exited her out of the IEP program. They said she qualifies for a 504, based on testing, but since she is in private Christian school she can’t have it, but if she were to come back to the public school, they would write it.

  4. This is pretty common for schools to do. A group of school staff must officially make the decision of need.

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