504 Plans in Iowa

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Students in Iowa who have disabilities that impact their ability to have equal access to education are eligible for 504 plans. Read on to learn how students are evaluated, what 504 plans include, and how they are implemented.

504 Plans for Students in Iowa

Under federal law, every accredited school in Iowa must provide appropriate accommodations to students who have disabilities that impact life activities and hinder their access to education or school activities. These plans are typically known as 504 plans, in reference to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which outlines the legal obligations of schools. Each school district in the state that has at least 15 employees must have a designated Section 504 coordinator who is responsible for district compliance, and each school designates a Section 504 contact to facilitate the student evaluation and 504 implementation process.

If you'd like additional background information about Section 504, check out this quick What are Section 504 Regulations and Accommodations in Public Schools? lesson on

Identifying and Evaluating Eligible Students

Students may be referred for 504 plans by parents, teachers or other school staff. Upon parental consent, a team that typically includes the school district's 504 coordinator, an at-risk coordinator, the school nurse, the student's teachers, and a school administrator then evaluates the student. The student and parent(s) may also participate in the process. During evaluation, a student's academic performance, medical information and behavior history is reviewed to determine eligibility for a 504 plan.

Types of Disabilities

To be eligible for a 504 plan, a student must have a physical or psychological disability that does not preclude them from regular classroom study or school activities, but does inhibit their equal access to those things. These include disabilities such as arthritis, Attention Deficit Disorder, and illnesses such as cancer.

Developing and Implementing an Appropriate Plan

If a student is determined to be eligible for a 504 plan, the school must provide appropriate accommodations that mitigate the impact of the disability. Each plan is individualized to the student's needs, based on the evaluation process outcome. The accommodations included in the plan are specific, rather than open to interpretation by teachers or other staff.

Accommodation Types and Examples

Accommodations may address environmental, organizational or behavioral issues, or they may alter classroom presentation, methodology or curricular structure. Examples include:

Accommodation Type Examples
Environmental Changing where a student is seated in a class or modifying non-classroom environments, such as the lunchroom
Organizational Providing tutors, individualized assignments, or modified texts and instructional materials
Behavioral Implementing student contracts or providing regular progress reports
Presentation Offering instructions verbally, in writing or visually, or allowing exams to be conducted orally
Methodology Altering the pace of instruction and assignments
Curricular Offering supplemental instructional materials or training to improve study skills

Educators interested in learning more about 504 plans, accommodations and best practices for teaching students who have disabilities may want to explore these courses:

Parental Rights and Grievances

Parents must be informed regarding evaluation outcomes and accommodations that will be provided, and may review all records upon request. Unless a school receives an override of a refusal, initial evaluations and resulting 504 plans must receive parental approval. Any parent who has concerns about placement or the 504 process should consult first with the school district's Section 504 coordinator. If unresolved, they may seek remedy through the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the enforcement of Section 504.

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