Section 504 Plans

An Overview of Section 504 Plans

Children with special needs under Section 504 are entitled to a plan for accommodations, typically referred to as a 504 plan. In practice they are similar to IEPs in that both provide a plan and accommodations for the child. The principal difference is that for a child to be under Section 504 their disabilities shouldn't impede their ability to make progress in the general education program once accommodations are in place. For example a child who is in a wheelchair might require an environment accommodations in the form of ramps, but otherwise might be able to participate normally in the general classroom. 

In practice this means that accommodations will typically focus on environmental accommodations, in-classroom support and services and so forth, but will not in most cases include modifications to the general education instruction itself. 

Some examples of accommodations that could be included in a 504 include

The main difference between an IEP and 504 plan is that 504 plans don't have the same procedural safeguards and protections.  

Both IEPs and 504 Plans offer similar options for dispute resolution in Massachusetts including mediation and appeals. For information see Understanding the Dispute Process 

Related Topics 

The topics below relate to both 504 plans and IEPs.

Foundations for Effective Collaboration

Understanding the Dispute Process



For more information

The resources below provide more information on 504 plans. One note of caution reading these is that many cover what's required under the federal law, which may differ from Massachusetts law and what happens in practice. For example not all states offer mediation for 504 plans, but Massachusetts does. Similarly 504 plans might not require parental sign-off but in practice many schools ask for this including Reading.     

Town of Reading 

504 Coordinators - List of 504 Coordinators for the different schools within Reading

Official Resources

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools - US Department of Education

Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Questions and Answers - Office for Civil Rights

General Resources

What is a 504 Plan -

Understanding the Differences Between IDEA and Section 504 - Teaching Exceptional Children

An Overview of IDEA and Section 504 - LD Online

The difference between IEPs and 504 plans -

 Key Differences Between Section 504 and IDEA - Wrightslaw

How is an IEP different from a 504 Plan? - PPAL

504 Plans/Individual Accommodation Plans - Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

A parent’s guide to Section 504 in public schools -

My Child with a 504 Plan is Failing, School Won't Help: Your Eligibility Game Plan - Wrightslaw

Can a Student With a 504 Plan Get a Transition Plan? -

IEP or 504 Plan: What difference does it make? - SPEDWatch

What’s Your 504 IQ? - Wrightslaw

Please note that we at Reading SEPAC cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information presented on any third-party website listed on this site, nor do we endorse any informational content appearing on third-party websites of any of the providers listed. We endeavor only to provide a listing of potentially helpful information available. Its up to you, as a consumer, to do your own diligence and research. Also note that any summarization of the laws, rules, regulations, processes or similar related to special education, or advice proffered is based exclusively on the experience of Reading SEPAC members as parents of children with special needs. Its in no way an official reflection of the position of the FCSA or the Reading School system and we make no claims of expertise in communication, law, education or any other areas. While we have endeavored to provide simple-to-read language for parents, we are not experts, do not claim to be, and make no warranties or claims of accuracy related to the informational content of this website.