Kids with Passing Grades Eligible for 504 Plans, IEPs? YES!

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Did you know that kids with disabilities who get good grades may be eligible for 504 plans? Yes!

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) restated this fact AGAIN in their “Parent and Educator Guide to Section 504” (see page 5, page 14, and page 21).

Parents of children with disabilities and teachers — you need to download and study this (free) Guide, packed with useful info.

If you are running into roadblocks from school staff, bring an extra copy of two of this Guidebook for members of your team.

Re “passing grades”

The Guide says:

School staff should note that a student may have a disability and be eligible for Section 504 services, including modifications, even if the student earns good grades. This is because the student’s impairment may substantially limit a major life activity regardless of whether the student performs well academically… For example, a student who has dyslexia and is substantially limited in reading finds it challenging to read the required class material in a timely manner.

The Guide also covers special education under Section 504 and the IDEA.

The Resource Guide provides an excellent overview of the rights of students with ADHD and describes school districts’ legal obligation to evaluate and provide educational services to students with disabilities. For example, the school:

  • Must evaluate a child when the child needs or is believed to need special education or related services.
  • Must provide services based on the child’s needs, not on generalizations about disabilities or ADHD.
  • May not rely on assumption that a child who performs well academically cannot be substantially limited in major life activities, including reading, learning, writing, and thinking. In fact, a child who performs well academically may also be a person with a disability.
  • Must evaluate children who have behavioral difficulties and children who seem unfocused or distractible as they may have ADHD.
  • Must provide parents and guardians with due process and must allow them to appeal decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of their children with disabilities, including children with ADHD.

If you have questions about getting services for your child or student with a disability, this Guide is a must read.

Students with ADHD and Section 504: A Resource Guide

Students with ADHD: Know Your Rights – This two-page summary of student and parent rights under Section 504 contains useful information for any parent or older child who may have a disability.

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09/23/2020 11:59 am

We just had our initial IEP eligibility meeting for my 10 year old son who has the diagnoses of ASD( Asbergers type) , ADHD and pragmatic speech delay. He is gifted intellectually and can perform well above grade level, but has had serious behavioral issues that have disrupted class and struggles socially. In their assessments, he qualifies for an IEP under the need for speech services and his autism diagnosis. The school is saying that if he graduates from speech, then he would no longer have an IEP, but his accommodations and modifications would transfer to a 504. Is this correct? Doesn’t the IEP have to look at every aspect of school participation, not just academic performance? Wouldn’t his need for behavior supports due to his autism qualify him for an IEP?

09/28/2020 2:27 pm
Reply to  Maureen

No, Yes & Yes. The federal government, & courts have stated that schools must identify, & address all needs of a student with a disability, & those include behavior, social skills, & functional skills. I suggest that you contact your state parent an training project for information and support.

09/09/2020 12:25 am

My son had his triannual iep and he is no longer under autism. Meanwhile at regional center he is and social security administration , they’ve taken services away but I have not agreed yet is there anything I can do , he tested at grade level but is diagnosed with adhd.

09/09/2020 2:37 pm
Reply to  Mayela

You can request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) paid for by the school. You can find out more about these on, & the dispute resolution processes available to you on this website. If an initial evaluation & diagnosis were done correctly, the disability does not go away. It appears they are saying that he no longer needs specially designed instruction (sdi). However, if he has above average intelligence, he should receive gifted & talented (GT) services, & may need sdi. Also needs for sdi includes social skills, behavior, etc needs that students with autism often have. Your state parent training & information center can give you additional support on this.

02/22/2020 1:01 pm

I have a high functioning autistic child who has good grades due to teacher accomadations without an IEP or 504 yet struggles socially and with communication. School refusing IEP based on her grades alone.

02/25/2020 12:15 pm
Reply to  Adrianne

Courts have ruled that education for students with disabilities includes social skills & behavior. OSEP has issued letters stating that a student can need specially designed instruction even though they have “good grades”. You can contact your state parent training and information project or Disability Rights agency for assistance.

01/22/2020 7:02 pm

I have what appears to be an advanced child, does incredibly well in academic subject areas, but is very bored, disrupts class. The school refuses to provide advance material when he is bored or finished before others, I have asked them to evaluate and instead suggested a 504 plan. He has no disability that has been diagnosed, is the 504 plan the appropriate next steps?

01/23/2020 2:40 pm
Reply to  Brita

I am not sure about all states, but I would think that the state would require schools to have a gifted & talented program. You can try researching this on the state education agency website.

11/02/2019 9:41 pm

This is a very simple question. I have a student making passing grades whose disability does not influence her activities of daily living, but she is legally blind in one eye. I accommodated her last year by giving her breaks during long tests, as well as the opportunity to use a cold compress when needed during testing, as she experienced eye strain and told me eyes were hurting (and there was some physical evidence of strain (red eyes, tearing).. This year she has STATE mandated testing, so I want to be sure she has the accommodations she needs IN WRITING and I want to be sure she qualifies, as does her mother. Any comments?

11/04/2019 2:25 pm
Reply to  Carol

It is not clear, if she currently has an IEP. If she does, is there a concern that she will be reevaluated & removed from special ed? A teacher of the visually impaired should be involved to determine if she still needs special ed services, & what accommodations she needs through an IEP or Section 504. Under either plan accommodations should be clearly written and shared with everyone involved with her.

12/30/2019 2:09 am
Reply to  Carol

Hi Carol — I’m glad you are on this forum advocating. I agree with you that it’s wise to get something in writing. I admire cultivating strength & bravery when it comes to our short-comings ; however – I also believe that leveling the playing field provides increased Human Dignity.

I argue that being legally blind in one eye likely DOES influence, & “at least some-what impair” a person’s activities of daily living. It reduces one’s ability to read, drive, & see with optimal peripheral vision; while it may not necessarily qualify the person for early Social Security disability benefits.

I would consult with the family to see whether they think requesting an IEP under : Other Health Impairment — or a 504 Plan,… best suits this student’s needs.

05/01/2019 8:16 am

My child was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. The school put accommodations in place for this school year while we spent the entire year trying to obtain an evaluation. Accommodations included reading everything aloud to him. Now, the school wants to deny him an IEP because he made honor roll all year when everything was read aloud, citing “lack of educational impact.” Can they legally deny an iep to a child who cannot read because he makes good grades when all materials are read to him? We have a meeting Tuesday to determine if they will approve the iep. Any help, resources or guidance would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

12/18/2019 7:36 pm
Reply to  Ashley

Why do you want you want your child in special education if he does not need it? Eligibility is two -pronged – Does he meet eligibility criteria and is there a need for specialized academic instruction? Sounds like a Section 504 Accommodation Plan would meet all his needs.

12/29/2019 12:12 pm
Reply to  Ashley

Carefully review dyslexia topics on this website. What are his goals and dreams for the short term term! What excites him. I would talk to a local college or university disability office so you can get a better check/reality on dyslexia resources, challenges and accommodations. Talk to dyslexia advocates to plan a strategy for school intervention and your local parent resource center. He may need remediation and assistive technology. He needs more than people “reading aloud” to him which, for some students, is demeaning. There are other resources to help and also build his confidence and even help plan for his future. Also this website on dyslexia at the University of Michigan is priceless:

12/30/2019 1:43 am
Reply to  Ashley

I’m sorry that sound advice did not come in written form here soon after you posted. Numerous experts advocate that immediate corrective actions be taken for children diagnosed with Dyslexia / or any form of Reading Difficulties. The earlier the problems are detected & set on-course the better :
1. Increased Explicit Reading instruction such as Orton-Gillingham; or similar
2. Increased “Language Experiences” strategies

Univ of Michigan says : Developmental dyslexia is the most common learning disability & it affects somewhere between 5–10% of the population, with some estimates as high as 17%.

An IEP — YES…! Here are some other helpful links Univ Mich provided :

03/11/2019 9:24 am

How long after a 504 meeting between parents and school must services begin and that the parents receive a copy in the state of GA?

02/06/2019 1:21 pm

Can a 504 plan be applied “retroactively”? For example, a NY State Regents test has been taken – and failed. Can a 504 plan be developed after the fact in order to provide NY State’s “safety net”?

08/31/2018 12:30 pm

My son suffers from an anxiety disorder called SELECTIVE MUTISM and he’s nonverbal in school due to his anxiety. He is obviouly not able to communicate his needs (raise his hand and speak when he needs to go to the bathroom, so he has accidents), he can’t ask for help if he doesn’t understand an assignment, he cannot do any oral presentation in front of the class, he can’t participate in group activities, BUT he manages to get excellent grades (don’t know how.. ) anyways. He’s in 3rd grade now. I keep getting denied an IEP because of his excellent grades. I tell them “Well what about his Social Skills? His Social/Emotional needs!! But they keep telling me he is ‘fine’ and he doesn’t need nor qualify for an IEP. I am so frustrated .

09/04/2018 5:24 pm
Reply to  Yasmin

You can contact your state parent training and information project for assistance.

05/01/2018 6:26 pm

My 7th grade daughter is diagnosed with ADHD ( Inattentive ) and Social Anxiety Disorder by 5 different physicians. School and the district denied her 504 plan even though one of her clinical psychologist was there with me at the meeting with school.
” Your daughter isn’t struggling. ” school said.
I contacted the education ombuds, they didn’t give me any useful info.
She is taking medication and doing therapy still she needs help or accommodation at school.
I don’t know what else I can do to get 504 plan . I am stuck.

04/18/2018 10:24 pm

I was denied a 504 plan from my school because of my good grades. Now is it illegal to deny a child with a medical diagnoses a 504 plan BECAUSE of their good grades, or is it legal to do so?

04/19/2018 2:20 pm
Reply to  Avanthea

No the school cannot deny you that. You parents should fill out the paperwork to have you evaluated to see if you are eligible for a 504 plan or an IEP

04/19/2018 2:47 pm
Reply to  Avanthea

It depends on the services the student needs. Students who are blind, in a wheel chair, or has diabetes will often need accommodations under 504 even though they are making good grades. Your state parent training & information project can assist you.

03/27/2018 7:47 pm

Does this 504 law apply to children with IEPs, or only 504 plans ? I’m told my child (who was recently diagnosed with ADHD and significant executive functioning deficits) no longer qualifies for an IEP (he originally had it for speech), because he earns good grades and they won’t consider that it can take him five hours to do easy HW and the difficulty he has in organizing materials and projects (they say they will only consider what they observe in the classroom). They allowed me to keep his IEP, while stating in the IEP that he doesn’t meet criteria for it, but will only provide ongoing OT once a month, which is not sufficient to help him develop habits/strategies that will help him as academic demands increase. So, does this apply to him, or only students considered for 504 plans?

03/30/2018 2:54 pm
Reply to  SJF

Grades are not to be a criteria for qualifying for an IEP. Contact your state parent training and information center. They can assist you in advocating for the services your child needs.

04/02/2018 8:34 pm
Reply to  Chuck

Thank you. But does this 504 law also apply to kids with IEPs?

04/03/2018 11:22 am
Reply to  SJF

Yes, but the part about not looking at grades is in the IEP (IDEA) law not in 504. 504 is a civil rights, non-discrimination law.

03/16/2019 6:29 am
Reply to  Chuck

How are grades not a criteria? The school is looking to exit my daughter. They are saying they have to prove my daughter’s disability (autism) is having a negative impact on her general classroom performance. If she is on and above grade level in all academic areas, can they exit her?

03/18/2019 12:10 pm
Reply to  Marcelle

The school needs to work on all of a student’s needs. These needs go beyond just academics. Parents have access to the dispute resolution processes when they disagree with what the school is proposing. Your state parent training information center is a resource with

03/18/2019 1:02 pm
Reply to  Marcelle

Marcelle – no, not based on her grades alone. They have to evaluate her academic AND functional levels of performance. Functional performance relates to things like self-care, social skills, behaviors, mobility etc. If any of these functional skills limit her from progressing in the general educational curriculum, then she could still be eligible.

Many children with autism often find ways of overcoming some of their difficulties academically by establishing rules that they can use to solve a problem. It’s much more difficult when they face more complex issues of social interactions and executive functioning. It’s easy to teach a child with autism a math fact – it’s more difficult to explain to them why they shouldn’t turn their back on their teacher while the teacher is still talking.

03/27/2018 12:58 pm

Our daughter has been denied a 504 because she “fares too well.” We administer the barton 2x/week for an hour each time. Her grades have always been ok and she reads on grade level since kind. Now through fourth. She was diagnosed in second grade and we started therapy and working on studying spelling words and math work. Do you think I have a due process case with ocr?

03/26/2018 9:34 am

Where is this guidebook? I cant find it!

03/26/2018 10:49 am
Reply to  Alicia

Alicia – Second sentence, just above the image. Click the link. (I’ve copied it below). The link opens with a Dear Colleague Letter, the actual Guide begins about page 4, so scroll down.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) restated this fact AGAIN in their “Parent and Educator Guide to Section 504” (see page 5, page 14, and page 21).

01/10/2018 11:39 pm

My 11th grade “twice gifted” son with dyslexia (documented learning difficulties from grade 1 to 11) had an IEP grades 6-10, then it was terminated because of his good grades. The school psychologist (also the district 504 coordinator) said that he was not eligible for a 504 plan for the same reason. After seeing the OCR guidance, we requested that the school consider his eligibility for a 504. His teachers provide informal accommodations (extra time on tests), but we fear that a teacher in the future could choose not to provide extra time and then he has no speedy recourse. I cited the OCR report at today’s 504 meeting, but it was ignored because “all students could benefit from extra time” and his performance is not enough below average.

05/25/2018 9:00 pm
Reply to  Maureen

I am in the exact same position. Have you made any progress? We filed an OCR complaint and the school district wants to have an impartial hearing. The school district is saying he is 504 eligible due to his disability in written expression and ADHD (they won’t recognize his dyslexia), but that he doesn’t need any accommodations.

05/29/2018 12:44 pm
Reply to  Ellen

If you have not done so, I suggest contacting your state parent training & information center.

10/27/2017 11:39 am

I have a student with PTSD who is passing all subjects. The student will be testifying at court hearing (several) in the near future. To provide academic protections as well as time for the student to be absent for counseling, etc. to get themselves together emotionally again for school would it be wise for the school district to support this students needs under a 504 Plan?

10/30/2017 10:26 am
Reply to  Whitney

Hi Whitney,

You asked a great question. Yes it is wise for the school to support this students needs with a 504 plan. However, from what I am reading it sounds like your student would do better with an IEP. An IEP is going to give hime more and its federally mandated so the school has to follow it. Also no changes can be made without the IEP team. A 504 plan can be changed and all the school has to do is give the parents/guardians writing of the changes. Hope this helps.