What is a 504 plan?

People who have IBD are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 Plan makes sure that you get the same access to school courses and activities as every other student. You develop the plan along with your parents or legal guardians and the school staff. It is not special treatment. It is just designed to help you in school while you manage your IBD. You should not feel guilty about requesting accommodations. As a person with IBD, you have challenges that others don’t have. The purpose of accommodations is to give you the same chance to succeed as the other students in your class.

Private and charter schools that do not receive federal funding do not have to provide accommodations. But if these schools receive even small amounts of money from the federal government, they have to follow Section 504. Even if a school does not have to provide accommodations, many of the schools still work with students and parents/guardians to provide support to help ensure students are successful.

There are a few types of accommodations that students with IBD can ask for. Accommodations should fit your specific needs.

Examples of some common 504 Plan accommodations for IBD patients include:

  • Unlimited restroom access
  • Unrestricted snacks or drinks throughout the day
  • Stop-the-clock testing and extra time to take a test (including standardized testing)
  • Access to the health center
  • Release from physical education classes
  • Flexible attendance for medical reasons (arriving late, leaving early or during class, etc. for doctor’s appointments, infusions, flares and side effects from treatment)
  • Options to make up missed class time for medical reasons without getting a penalty
  • Full participation in extracurricular and sports activities, despite classroom absences
  • Tutoring following a period of absence due to complications of IBD

Students who are given these accommodations are still responsible for learning and completing schoolwork.

How do I set up a 504 plan?

Parents/guardians and students should contact the school to request a 504 Plan meeting. This often involves a guidance counselor or school administrator.

To be sure that everything is set up before the fall school semester starts, you should ask for a meeting at the end of the previous school year. (Some school administrators may not be available during the summer, and we do not want there to be a delay in setting up your accommodations at the start of the next school year.)

If, during the school year, your 504 Plan is not providing enough support, you and your parents/guardians can ask for an updated plan. This process should be approached with an open mind and a willingness to work with the school to reach the best plan. Schools and parents/guardians share the same goal of wanting you to succeed.

What if the school does not agree to my proposed 504 plan?

Parents/guardians can request a due process hearing if they disagree with the school district’s decision. They can file a complaint with the district’s 504 coordinator. See Notice of Parents and Student Rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for more information.

Helpful tips

  • DO include the student when identifying their needs.
  • DO include how, where, when and why accommodations will be implemented.
  • DO create a 504 Plan even if you are healthy at the beginning of the year.
  • DON’T assume every teacher, coach and administrator is aware of your 504 Plan.
  • DO assess that your current plan is working well.
  • DO plan to reassess the 504 Plan once a year with the school.

Rev. 8/2018. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.