504 Plans in Massachusetts

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
In Massachusetts, 504 plans prevent discrimination against children who have disabilities. Read on to learn about eligibility requirements along with the structure and function of these plans.

About 504 Plans for Students in Massachusetts

Under 504 plans, students with disabilities are provided accommodations meant to mitigate how their disabilities impact their education. Section 504 plans are part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law designed to ensure that public schools provide the same educational access to disabled and nondisabled students alike. Under this law, every school in Massachusetts must employ a Section 504 coordinator to facilitate the creation and implementation of 504 plans for eligible students.

If you are unfamiliar with 504 plans, their history, and how they differ from IEPs for special education students, this short What Are Section 504 Regulations and Accommodations in Public Schools video lesson will help you get up to speed.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements?

504 plans are for public school students with documented physical or psychological disabilities that impact life activities such as:

  • Seeing
  • Standing
  • Communicating
  • Hearing
  • Concentrating
  • Speaking
  • Lifting

Students who qualify for 504 plans will need accommodations so that these impairments do not prevent them from accessing their education or participating in other school activities.

How Is a 504 Plan Developed in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts students may be referred for 504 plans by either a parent or someone within the school system. Once referred, students are evaluated at the school level by the Section 504 coordinator and his/her team. Others involved in the process may include a school nurse or a student's primary care doctor. After determining that a student has a qualifying disability, the team will determine which accommodations are necessary.

Parents do not have to participate in developing a 504 plan, but formal testing requires their consent. Parents must also be informed regarding the plans developed for their children. They have the right to review all records regarding evaluations and 504 plan details as well.

What Does a 504 Plan Entail?

Unlike special education programs, 504 plans do not modify general instruction or activities. Rather, they provide the appropriate modifications to teaching materials or the learning environment. Typical accommodations include:

  • Providing students with additional time to complete assessments and/or homework and classroom assignments
  • Assisting children with activities that require moving
  • Providing additional breaks during tests or classes
  • Allowing a student to sit at the front of the classroom
  • Offering aids to help students see better
  • Providing students with additional and/or alternative textbooks
  • Modifying a classroom to be wheelchair accessible
  • Allowing the use of assistive technologies

Additional Resources Regarding 504 Plans in Massachusetts

Massachusetts educators seeking additional information about Section 504 may want to review Study.com's Resources for Special Education course. This comprehensive online course includes sample 504 plans along with lessons on Response to Intervention (RTI), IEPs and teaching strategies for students who have various disabilities. Lessons on classroom adjustments and assessments can also be found in this Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities course.

Section 504 falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Any complaints regarding discrimination against disabled students in Massachusetts should be directed to their Boston office.

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