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504 Plans in Missouri

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Missouri schools must make 504 plans available to qualified students who have disabilities. Learn about what these plans include, how they are developed, and where to find resources that may help educators who implement them.

What Are 504 Plans for Missouri Students?

In Missouri, 504 plans exist to ensure that students who have disabilities receive the accommodations necessary to have fair and equal access to educational services. These 504 plans are required in Missouri, and across the country, under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They typically are created for students who have disabilities that affect their ability to fully access classroom instruction or school activities, but are not in special education programs. Any school that receives funding from the federal government must comply with this legislation.

For background information and a quick overview of 504 plans and federal regulations, check out this short lesson: What are Section 504 Regulations and Accommodations in Public Schools?

Who Is Eligible?

Missouri students who are enrolled in a school that receives federal funding are entitled to accommodations under a 504 plan if they have a disability - either physical or psychological - that inhibits a critical life activity or if they have been treated as having a disability within the school system. Disabilities that qualify students for 504 plans include:

  • Vision or hearing impairments
  • Diabetes
  • Conditions that affect walking or moving
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Short-term injuries or illnesses that impact life activities

Educators in Missouri should note that parents of students enrolled in a school that receives federal funding are also covered under Section 504. Therefore, schools must provide accommodations to parents with disabilities to ensure they have access to events and activities at their children's schools.

What Is the Development Process?

The 504 plan development process begins with an evaluation conducted by a team that includes school staff members who are familiar with the student, along with a student's parents. In any Missouri public school district that has 15 employees or more, this process is facilitated by a staff member specifically designated to coordinate 504 plans and oversee Section 504 compliance.

Once a 504 plan of accommodations is established, a student must be re-evaluated at least once every three years or whenever their placement is altered due to such instances as suspensions or removal from a regular classroom environment. Parents must be notified of all actions and have a right to review relevant files throughout the process. Because Section 504 compliance is regulated by the federal government - rather than local or state educational agencies - complaints and grievances must be filed through the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights located in Kansas City.

What Resources Are Available for Teachers?

Suggested Accommodations from Disability Groups

Many disability advocacy groups offer resources, such as suggested or common physical, behavioral, and instructional accommodations, for educators charged with creating and implementing 504 plans. These are available on the websites of disability organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association, National Joint Committees on Learning Disabilities (LD Online), and Dysautonomia International. Some options can include:

  • Private study or learning spaces
  • Clearly posted notices (color-coded)
  • Simplified and clear written and spoken instructions
  • Extended breaks and/or time for testing
  • Consistent feedback, language and tasks
  • Goal-setting and reward system

Online Courses

Teachers will also find a variety of online training and educational resources relating to 504 plans and teaching children with disabilities. For example, the following two comprehensive online courses are designed for educators to help with lesson planning and accommodating students with special needs:

  • Resources for Teaching Special Education offers lessons that outline the difference between 504 plans and IEPs and provides sample 504 plans for students with several different types of disabilities.
  • Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities covers the different types of learning disabilities and how to assess, monitor, and make adjustments for students appropriately. It also includes helpful strategies for teaching students who have a variety of different learning disabilities.

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