504 Plans in Maryland

Instructor: Alyssa Kominsky

Alyssa has taught middle school and high school English and has a bachelor's degree in secondary English education with a minor in creative writing.

Section 504 in Maryland requires that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations in order to be successful in the classroom. It also protects those students from discrimination. Read on to learn about details specific to Maryland.

What is Section 504 in Maryland?

Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which ensures that students with disabilities cannot be discriminated against, and must receive 'reasonable accommodation' in the classroom, even if those accommodations are not outlined in students' IEPs. This law may also apply to students who do not have IEPs, and covers all public and many private schools in Maryland.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

Section 504 covers students who have disabilities which impact their lives in major ways. This may include:

  • Performing manual tasks such as eating and sleeping
  • Walking and standing
  • Seeing
  • Hearing and speaking
  • Breathing
  • Lifting and bending
  • Learning and working
  • Thinking, concentrating, and communicating

Students' lives must be significantly impacted by these disabilities in order to receive Section 504 accommodations in school.

What is the Process for Determining if a Child is Eligible?

Before a plan can be designed, the student must be evaluated. Some students with disabilities may qualify for Section 504 accommodations, but not qualify for special education services. In this case, the student will be evaluated by a team to determine eligibility. This may include collecting information such as report cards, teacher reports, standardized tests, medical records, oral or written documentation of previous assessments, and behavioral plans to develop a Section 504 Plan that should be reviewed annually.

Otherwise, the process for determining special education needs in the state of Maryland consists of a preliminary screening, assessments, and a review of those assessments. The process must be completed by the IEP team (typically made up of school professionals such as guidance counselors, physical or occupational therapists, teachers, and administrators) within 90 days of the initial request for evaluation.

Screening: The parent or guardian will request the evaluation. The IEP team will determine if the child is eligible for special education services and requires additional assessments. If necessary, the team will receive permission from the parents or guardians to pursue further assessment of the child.

Assessments: Students will receive assessments that have been recommended by the IEP team. Assessments given will depend on the suspected disability of the child. The tests will not only determine the disability, but also the educational services the student will require as a result. The school typically funds any recommended assessments and subsequent accommodations.

Review of the Assessments: The IEP team will review the results of the assessments and decide the appropriate next steps for the child. The team should meet annually to set and monitor student goals.

What Accommodations May Be Provided?

Students who have a disability and are covered under Section 504 may receive some accommodations. By Maryland law, the accommodations should relate to the child's disability, reflect the student's individual needs, offer the student opportunities equal to their non-disabled peers, and should be specific as to when and how the plan will be implemented, as well as when it will be reviewed and, if necessary, adapted for the child. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Testing in an alternate location
  • Additional time on tests, homework, or in-class assignments
  • Preferential seating
  • Providing breaks while students are testing
  • Digital textbooks
  • Modified homework assignments
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Audio or visual assistance

Where Can I Find Additional Resources?

Educators in Maryland seeking more information about the Section 504 plan may want to take a peek at Study.com's lesson, How Students Qualify for Special Education Services. In addition, the Resources for Teaching Special Education course offers lessons complete with sample 504 plans and accommodation options.

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