The process of obtaining a 504 plan in high school


Olivia Gaziano

Students with 504 plans have had different experiences when obtaining one.

Cache Merriweather

A 504 plan is a document that is used in order to level the playing field for students who are in need of accommodations ranging from a broken arm to a learning disability. It includes how the school will provide support or remove barriers for a student with a disability. It is provided free of charge considering it is civil rights law under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. However, the process in order to obtain one can be tedious depending on the situation.

While a student with a vision impairment may need something as simple as a seat change in their classes, another student with a learning disability will need more planning regarding what type of accommodations they will need and how they will be executed to give them the best school experience. The initial 504 discussion with the school staff can be brought up in different ways depending on what the issue may be.

“It’s kind of tricky because the 504 laws are kind of vague in a sense, where if a student has a medical diagnosis, they are eligible for a possible 504 plan,” 504 coordinator Tyler Ruschmeyer said. “But typically, it comes up if a student is struggling in school.”

Metea has a team of staff members who are involved in the application process. This includes the student’s teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, the 504 coordinator, and whoever may seem partial to providing a better school experience for the student.

“The student is talked about with a problem-solving team, which consists of counselors, the house staff, counselors, social workers, dean’s, myself as one of the school psychologists, and we talk about what interventions have been in place prior,” Ruschmeyer said. “If the team feels like a 504 is warranted and needed to help that student be successful, then they go through the evaluation process in which they might look at, you know, rating scales for anxiety, depression, ADHD, things like that.”

The process is not the same for every student considering the different accommodations needed for each one. Physical and learning disabilities are different when it comes to a 504 plan. Learning disabilities may take more effort to address due to the range of arrangements such as more time given on a test.

“It took me six years of my school career to obtain a 504,” senior Melony Friedlander said. “I did not get one until my sophomore year although my family had wanted one for me since fourth grade due to my dyslexia. My dyslexia was not considered a learning disability until high school, so the process to get one was very exhausting because we had to have tons of meetings with teachers and staff members. However, now that I have one I have not been happier with the accommodations I’ve been given throughout the years.”

A 504 plan ranges from complexity when considering who the 504 will be given to. A disability such as a broken hand can be one example of a simple 504 plan, but medical conditions and learning disabilities are also qualifiers. The initial 504 discussion with a school can be brought up in different ways depending on what the issue may be.

“I broke my hand due to a sports accident and was given a 504 in order to be given more time to take tests in class because it was harder to write with my non-dominant hand,” sophomore Darrell Space said. “My parents had to meet with teachers and other staff in order to get the plan, but it was quick and simple.”

Due to the unpredictability of this year, some students with 504 plans have needed new or different types of accommodations different to a normal school year.

“I haven’t had a problem with my plan this year,” senior Melony Friedlander said. “The school has continued to provide me with what I need even during e-learning, and I am very happy and appreciative of the help they’ve given me.”