Getting the Most out of Your Child’s 504 Plan
One of the biggest complaints I get, as a therapist, from parents is their child’s teacher is not following their 504. I can sympathize completely, but as a past public school educator, I can sympathize with the teacher as well. Most classrooms are designed to have 504 and IEP students with an “Inclusion Teacher”. What this means is…the students are generally put with a teacher who requests to work with more challenging students or is made to work with more challenging students. How they become the “Inclusion teacher” is irrelevant; their work load is the still the same.
Many teachers receive information regarding their students within the first few days of class when they are overwhelmed with paperwork. Generally, they get copies of a student’s IEP, but not the 504. One year, I actually never received my student’s 504…I was simply told they had one. Being a new teacher, I did not know I could pull the child’s cumulative folder and research this information myself. Yes, I know, I could I have been so oblivious?
This leads me to…whose responsibility is it really to make sure your child’s 504 is being implemented? Personally, I believe it is up to the schools Learning Services Coordinator (LSC). By law the school does not have to include you in your child’s 504 annual meeting. Therefore, I would recommend you find out who the LSC is at your school and become friends with them. Let them know you want to be an active participant in your child’s education.
In order to be an active participant and have a say in your child’s 504 plan; you must BE NICE, but firm. When you show up to meetings have samples of your student’s work, be ready to say what is working or not working, and have concrete accommodation ideas ready to share. Don’t just listen to the educators. You have valuable information to share. Talk about your child’s behaviors…things he says or doesn’t say can be invaluable.
There are many ways to help children with learning and attention issues to succeed in school. Accommodations and modifications can come from several walks of life; such as: work presentation student response, setting, timing, scheduling, organization, assignment modifications, and even curriculum modifications. When helping to design a 504 plan, make sure you understand terminology being used by educators. Make sure the educator who is responsible for implementing the accommodations name is clearly defined in the paperwork. Also ensure that what is to be done to help your child is specific and clearly understood. Finally, be sure to get a copy of your child’s new 504 plans and keep in contact with the person listed on the plan as the student’s interventionist.
If you find yourself at odds with your child’s teacher, Principal, or LSC, request a mediator or child’s advocate from your state public school office. If you still cannot reach some type of understanding, you can always file a law suit with the Federal Office for Civil Rights. However there is a way to avoid these extreme situations.
Parents, your child’s teacher works hard and struggles daily to keep data clearly organized in their brain on each student. They are human and will make mistakes. Communication is the key! Talk to your child’s teacher regularly. Not once a school year or even once a semester. I’m talking about every 3-4 weeks. Children change and grasp new concepts every four weeks or so. What was once working may not be working anymore; maybe you discovered or the teacher came across a new and refreshing idea. It takes a village to raise a child and all of its inhabitants must play their part…including the student.