Can the School Deny Section 504 Accommodations in an AP Course?

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teen girl in school classOur daughter has Section 504 accommodations that include keyboarding for written work longer than 1-2 sentences.

The school says she can not use this accommodation in an AP course, because the College Board determines who is eligible for accommodations on the actual AP exam.

In fact, although my daughter has the prerequisites and is capable of AP work, the school recommends she not take the AP class because of the need for accommodations.

If your child has a Section 504 plan, the school needs to provide the accommodations in the plan – even in AP classes.

Did we misunderstand the question?

Section 504 ensures that a child with a disability has equal access to an education. Under a 504 Plan, your child may receive accommodations and modifications.

When a school develops a Section 504 plan for a student who needs accommodations, how is the College Board involved?

How does the College Board determine what accommodations a child with a disability should receive in a school class? It is unclear how the College Board can “prohibit” a student on a 504 plan from taking AP classes.

OCR says – “The practice of denying, on the basis of disability, a qualified student with a disability the opportunity to participate in an accelerated program violates both Section 504 and Title II.”

You’ll find this OCR Letter on the Wrightslaw 2-e page at

The College Board does require prior approval of accommodations for a student taking SATs.

Update: July 2017. The College Board simplified its request process for test accommodations. Most students who have testing accommodations at their school through an IEP or 504 Plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved.

Work with your school for documentation of a disability and specific timelines for submitting a request and required documentation. The College Board does allow a school to submit materials for students. Their website recommends that families take advantage of the SSD Online tool by working with their school.

But the College Board does not dictate a student’s 504 plan accommodations in public school.

  1. My child’s appeal to the College Board for accommodations has been pending for 5 months! Not sure what to do.She has had a 504 since 2018 including a current one. The application was timely made for the winter SAT and we have received no response.

    My child has had a visual issues including hyperopia, strabismus (her eyes cross and she does not use her eyes together) since infancy. She has a public school 504 for many years and has been getting accommodations since elementary school. We thought it would be slam dunk and sent in forms using old eye doctor reports in September 2020 in the middle of the pandemic (her eye doctor had limited availability then) and they denied her for using old reports that did not recommend accommodations (she was 10, no one was asking if she needed them!) and not sending in teacher reports.

    We sent in the revised documents plus teacher reports last spring (teachers reported she would fail without accommodations) and they took 3 months to come back with a denial because they thought her vision was fine because glasses correct the hyperopia but not the strabismus or the lack of binocular vision (slows her reading and tracking substantially) We sent in new reports including updated reports from her eye doctor explaining in detail why her vision is a problem and interferes with a major life function. We also sent in her latest 504 which is exactly the same as all prior 504s and supports her need for extra time and enlarged print. To date they have not gotten back to us!

    The school called a few weeks ago because we had more information to add to her file and was told if they add anything that resets the clock for looking over her file. She missed the SAT she planned to take (is fine with the ACTs) and the APs are in a month, I am starting to panic. The school called a few weeks ago and the CB said they would expedite meanwhile most kids who applied for accommodations last fall that we know got a good response in less than a month. This is exactly what happened last spring when she was denied. The school could not reach a supervisor

    She got accommodations from ACT in a week! but this will not help with APs. It has been 5 months!

    Suggestions? Should I contact the US Civil Rights Division? The state department of education? Other suggestions

  2. My oldest child has a 504 plan, the school says because she is in advanced courses that they couldn’t keep some of her accommodations and the accommodations they did keep, teachers rarely follow, unless you constantly bother them. Myself being a teacher, and inclusion teacher, know many laws about this for my grade level, but not for high school. One of the accommodations she had was limit number of spelling words, it takes her longer to spell words, she is dyslexic, so it is not that she isn’t capable of spelling the words, more so the fact that she is required to spell 30 words, just like students without a 504 in same amount of time. 504 coordinator stated that less words is not as rigorous, I agreed to disagree. Rigor is about complexity, not quantity.

  3. I am concerned about this as well as we have had a hard time gaining our daughter’s 504. She has a benign brain tumor and has honors classes as an upcoming freshman but have wondered if this shouldn’t be an IEP, due to integrated epilepsy and severe migraines that come with her diagnosis. The school system has been no help, I have had to do all legwork and figuring this out on my own. Getting the neuro-psych because of her tumor and rate of growth and it has impacted her memory and she now has some cognitive delays and study issue.

  4. My son’s coordinator at school neglected to submit his 504 accommodations to the College Board for his AP Exams next week. What can I do about this at this point? They are going to submit tomorrow but they say there might not be time? Is this my problem or their’s? What can I do at this point?

  5. My son is in 8th grade, is on the autism spectrum, and has an IEP. He is very intelligent but struggles with social skills and some executive functioning. Yesterday I received a call from his pre-AP Spanish teacher that she needed to move him to a regular Spanish class because he seemed frustrated when they moved to a new activity. She also described his stimming behavior as him being upset. I am so tired of the school putting up obstacles to his learning.

    • You can request in writing to the special ed director that a person knowledgeable of Autism be brought in to train, & support staff in working with your son. An IEP team is the one that must decide whether he should be moved. The federal dept. of special ed has made it clear that students with disabilities are to have the supports to be successful in AP classes. Your state parent training & information center can assist you.

  6. Our situation little different school guidance counselor NEVER SENT ANYTHING TO COLLEGE BOARDS for approval. I was just made aware college boards at testing school. ( when they stated that accommodations weren’t sent to them either. (Two different schools because my daughter is online student but AP testing has to be done at B n M school)

    • You have to do the paperwork yourself to request the accommodations then you give it to the school to enter the paperwork electronically.

    • The testing accommodations should have been reviewed at the time of her 504/IEP creation. At that time, you would sign a release to send documentation to the College Board for approval.

  7. also this has and is happening to my daughter. she is 8 years old and been having a hard few years now. after changing schools and getting additional help i am saddened to say i have learned she was miss behaving in her 504 class so the teacher then at that point assured my daughter that she was no longer allowed to come to her class….. then the next day my daughters home room teacher stated to my daughter that she was not allowed to return to the 504 class to get help. then at that point my daughter told the teacher that she needed to call me to let me know what was going on and the teacher yelled at her to the point of tears in the middle of the FULL classroom. what can i do please please help.i have a meeting Thursday and would love to some advice. thank you.

    • The teacher cannot just kick your daughter out of class. That is outrageous!!! It sounds like your daughter has a 504 plan and I hope that the teacher knows that by removing her from class she is not following the plan.The homeroom teacher should not have embarrassed her like that. It is shocking to me what happens to students with disabilities in public schools. I do hope that you were able to prevail at your meeting.

  8. My Son has a 504 agreement with the school that we discussed during the beginning of the year. However, We recently had a incident where 3 of the teachers are not following the agreement. What are my options and what can I do? I have tried talking to them and it continues.

    • Rick,
      Have you requested a 504 meeting because you can. i would email the principal along with the Special Education director outlining your concerns that the 504 plan is not being followed. The teachers are legally required to follow this plan in order for your son to receive FAPE. If you get no where with the meeting you can use your states dispute process or request mediation.You can also contact your state and parenting training center. They should have other resources available to you

  9. My son has an extended time accommodation for assignments of tests and quizzes however, the teacher is determining how long the ‘extended time’ is for and isn’t allowing him to turn in late homework assignments. What does ‘extended time’ legally provide as an accommodation? If he has this accommodation, can the teacher then tell him “No, you have had enough time/days to do that assignment?

    • There is no federal definition on this, but a state, or district might. If the district/campus does not have a written policy/procedure on this, I suggest asking for a IEP meeting to define this term for your child.

    • My sons time is set on his 504 for 50% extended time. With what I have gone through, if it’s not spelled out, it’s teachers choice. I am still having issues w/ him now in HS because teachers do not think they have to follow a 504 plan.

  10. I strongly recommend you go to and reference the bottom left for accommodations and compliance. I also encourage you to be assertive in informing the school if their refusal to be in compliance with laws such as section 504, the ADA, etc. continues after more than three redemptory attempts. If you do want to report a school for failing to accommodate a student, you should note that filing a compliant is taken extremely seriously and it should be one of the last things you do get a resolution to your child’s needs. One should never falsify a compliant either as one should never fake a 911 call because it is a criminal offense. That being said don’t be afraid to file one if everything else fails.

  11. The (public or government funding recipient) school should help you and your son/daughter get the accommodations that she is afforded. Again, if the school doesn’t comply with the various anti-discrimination laws against students and you’ve had multiple 504 or IEP meetings with little progress (or have been denied access to a 504/IEP meeting, the parent should inform the school that (s)he will report the school to the Office of Civil Rights, the Department of Education, the Justice Department, hire an attorney and take all courses of action necessary to crack down on the school being out of compliance because the school is discriminating. I strongly recommend parents of students with learning disabilities to reference for ensuring that students with disabilities are accommodated.

  12. Of course not. If a child has been diagnosed with a disability, visible or invisible, that impairs his or her ability to perform and execute the expectations of their teachers, the school must:
    1. address the parents that their child’s needs are not being met and schedule a 504 or IEP meeting to address the needs of the student/child to better their performance and adhere to section 504 among other laws
    2. adhere to all accommodations listed on any plans agreed upon between the school, the parents, and the student
    3. have a special needs coordinator that works for the district and/or on the school’s campus
    4. provide a copy of the student’s rights to the student’s parents
    If school fails to comply after numerous attempts of remediation through various meetings and such, report to OCR

  13. Can a high school deny a student extended time in an AP class for exams if the student only has a gifted IEP without a documented disability? The student has “extended time on exams” written into his IEP, but likely will be denied extended time on the AP test due to a lack of documented disability. Are gifted IEP’s legally binding under IDEA if the student does not have a disability?

  14. Can a high school deny a student accommodations under his iep for a pre-ap level class? He is able to do the work and understand the course just needs some assistance that the other students in the class do not get – word bank during tests(this is given in the level classes). I am being told by his high school that they do not allow modifications to the curriculum of any kind within a pre-ap class.

    • Shannon – the question may be…student accommodation or curriculum modification?

      Some schools have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to participate in accelerated programs and have required these students to give up the services designed to meet their individual needs. These practices are inconsistent with Federal law and OSEP has issued policy guidance on this.

      Read the OSEP memos/letters about access by students with disabilities to accelerated programs and the prohibition against disability-based discrimination in accelerated programs.

      In 2007 OSEP wrote,

      “we are informed of schools and school districts that, as a condition of participation in such programs, have required qualified students with disabilities to give up the services that have been designed to meet their individual needs.  These practices are inconsistent with Federal law, and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education will continue to act promptly to remedy such violations where they occur.”

      In 2010 OSEP wrote that the Department believes IDEA does provide protections for students with high cognition and disabilities who require special education services.

      “The IDEA is silent regarding “twice exceptional” or “gifted” students. It remains the Department’s position that students who have high cognition, have disabilities and require special education and related services are protected under the IDEA and its implementing regulations.”

      Regarding evaluation/eligibility, in 2013 OSEP wrote

      “… it would be inconsistent with the IDEA for a child, regardless of whether the child is gifted, to be found ineligible for special education and related services under the SLD category solely because the child scored above a particular cut score established by State policy.”

      OSEP wrote again in 2015 reaffirming the rights of students with high cognition and disabilities.

      This information may be helpful – you’ll find these letters on the Twice-Exceptional page here:

  15. the school CAN deny a 504 student access to an advanced class if that student did not meet the criteria that ALL students are held to with accommodations.. So for example if the student was required to take a placement test for entry to the class, he/she would have had to meet the same standard as other students with accommodations on that test if stated in the 504 (extended time for example)

  16. My son’s school ensured that they requested extended time, per his 504, for the ACT, which reflects on *them*, but denied the AP class was eligible for accommodations. Now they are blaming us for not requesting *they* request extended time thru College Board-we only verbally requested they apply his 504 to his AP, but we did meet with them repeatedly. Are we screwed? My son only finished 41/55 questions because he thought he had the extra time and he was making sure he did them right! The parent advocates told us we need to file an OCR complaint.

  17. There is still a lot of ignorance at the high school level. My son (dyspraxia + high-functioning autism) was entirely in mainstream classes in high school and no modifications. Yet at least one teacher asked a the sophomore IEP meeting, “Can a kid with an IEP even take AP classes? Is that allowed?!?” So yeah… We still have work to do. 🙂

  18. My child has a 504 plan. Her guidance counselor tried to persuade her not to take AP courses. My child is capable, had the prerequisites, and took several AP courses. In my opinion, I think the problem lies with a lack of understanding of the IDEA. I would highly recommend you contact the school district Head of Special Education. Request to be provided specific written documentation from the IDEA that “proves” your child cannot have accommodations in AP courses due to a 504 plan. That ought to get the ball rolling!
    If your student needs AP testing accommodations, it is the responsibility of the site testing coordinator (usually this is someone at your child’s school) to submit the request for accommodations (via The College Board) on behalf of your student. You cannot complete this process, although you will have to sign a form giving permission for the school to do so. The College Board approved testing accommodations for my child less than a week after they were requested.

    • Isn’t a 504 Plan ADA regulations? You might be leading them in the wrong direction. IDEA is for children with IEPs. You can have a child with an IEP, which is IDEA and ADA regs, but 504 Plans follow under ADA regs.

    • The process is that the parents have to fill out the paperwork and gather the documentation and give that to the school to submit to the College Board. Also people get confused but students with IEPs, 504s, and Child Study plans can get accommodations for the SAT and ACT.

  19. My son has a 504 plan. He takes AP classes and is allowed to use his accommodations in the classes. However for the AP exam and SAT or any college board exam, you have to have the college board accommodations in place. You have to submit to the college board for these accommodations. My son was able to get all of the accommodations that we requested. We did have to appeal after they only allowed 50% more time, he has 100% more time now. And he uses every minute. Our doctor submitted documentation that really helped. Plus I wrote a very detailed letter explaining his accommodation needs. Remember though when you are signing up for the AP exams you have to document that he has accommodations in place. We did not do that for his AP exam his sophomore year and he did not get to use his accommodations. I will never forget that again.

      • The school does submit the paperwork but you should definitely follow up with them to be sure it gets done.

        • Our public school counselor made the request for accommodations from the CB the parent’s responsibility. He says it easier for parents. The district literally took two months as page by page of the electronic form was sent to us one at a time, and it missed the 7 week cutoff for the CB by a week, CB took 10 weeks. School AP coord. told us they would give him the extra time, proctor said they were not told-so no. SAT-we got a call that he was done at the same time as the students without accommodations – the scribe had not given him the extra time, and had told him to put his watch away. College board did not give us credit for the next test, saying it is the school we need to talk to. School said no even when they agreed they did not follow the accommodations. Enforcement seems impossible.

      • The parents have to provide the documentation. The school wouldn’t have all the info especially if you’ve done private testing at any point.

  20. There is no permission process at College Board to sign up for an AP course. My daughter born with a disability took 8 APs. She used her high school mods “dictation, extra time” (she has no use of her hands) on her PSAT, SAT, AP, even GRE tests. College Board stipulated that the person she dictates to must not be one of her teachers, so another high school provided their teachers.

    College Board allows for you to use your current modifications on their exams, provided that your school counselor applies for the mods 3 months prior to signing up for a test, and on the counselor’s form, he/she must prove that your mods have been in your 504/IEP for over 6 months. So mods on the 504/IEP must have been in place for 9 months minimum, prior to the first test. Keep this in mind to be ready for the PSAT.

    This process required by College Board means that a HS must be on your side for mods and for applying to College Board on your behalf. Occasionally, a school will weed out students via mid-term grades to have a good national AP ranking, so ask other parents about this.

    I found the people at College Board to be easy to talk with in order to learn the process.

  21. We had the same issue last year. Accommodations must be provided with or without the college board’s approval for class work. If your child wan’t to take the AP exam with accommodations those must be approved by the College Board. If your child is college bound, and it sounds like she is, then it is worth getting the accommodations in place since she will require College Board approval of accommodations on college entrance exams. Good luck!

  22. My child was not allowed in a magnet school because she needed resource for math. She had the GPA needed and made all As in the rest of her courses. It is too late for her now, but could she have received resource help in a magnet program?

  23. I have a child in AP classes with accommodations. Students do need the College Board to approve the accommodations, like computer usage. Otherwise, the student has to practice to take the test just like everyone else, without accommodations (say for the written portion). The teacher would be doing a disservice to the student to give them accommodations in class, because they wouldn’t be preparing them to pass the AP exam. But, with a need, the College Board does approve accommodations, so then the student can practice for the test with those specific accommodations, computer usage, more time, etc! Then, it’s not an issue.

    • I find it helpful to really think about what is an “accommodation”. We all use accommodations – some more frequently than others, depending on our varying needs and the situation. I can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, so I use stairs or an elevator to go from one floor to another. Stairs are an accommodation for my inability to fly. Some of us wear glasses to accommodate for poor vision. I have a very different perspective about accommodations and do not feel that it is a disservice to a student for a teacher to provide them any more than denying someone the use of their glasses presents a disservice. If a teacher is not providing what has been determined to be required for a student, irrespective of the class, they are in violation of the the student’s IEP or 504 Plan.

  24. It sounds like the end of course AP test is the issue. The guidance department should carefully check what accommadations can be used on the test, and what documentation is needed. It sounds like they don’t want to do the work required for accommadations. They can’t deny her a seat because she has a disability!

    • I believe we have established the fact that students can have accommodations.Please do not assume that counselors and other school officials will take the lead for CB SSD and other. They are not required to, because College Board advertises that parents should initiate the process. This may be offensive, but it is good practice of self-advocacy that students will need for college.

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