504 & IEP Next Steps

Now that you’ve established which plans you wish to enroll in, what are the next steps? Below is information on how to proceed.

How can I get a 504 plan or IEP for my child with JSpA?

All states, counties, school districts are different and have their own process for developing and managing a 504 plan or an IEP for a child. Below are some helpful general steps that can get you started on receiving a 504 plan or IEP for your child.

1. Gather documentation of your child’s needs.

Reach out to your child’s doctor and ask them to write a letter that describes your child’s medical diagnosis and health needs. Request that the letter outlines specific recommendations that may assist your child at school. Every child’s plan is unique to the needs of your child. Inform the school about your child’s medical diagnosis and needs. Prior to meeting with your child’s school care team, download and customize this JSpA medical information guide for your child (Download here). This will help guide your meeting and provide school staff details of your child’s medical condition, and how it affects him or her at school.

2. Contact your child’s school and find out who is the school’s 504/IEP coordinator to start the evaluation process.

Request an evaluation for your child for either an IEP or 504 plan. When requesting for an evaluation, submit all pertinent medical and academic information that may help school personnel determine eligibility as well as which federal laws apply to the child’s specific needs. Write a formal written request for a plan and be specific about what you’re asking for in the plan. Bring two copies of your child’s custom medical information guide with you so you can leave one copy at school (Download in Step #1). Be sure to follow up on your request by email or phone a few days after submittal. Once the school begins the evaluation process they will inform you in writing of their decision to evaluate your child. You must give the school written permission as the child’s (parent or guardian) before the evaluation can begin. Give consent right away for the school to evaluate your child and begin the process.

3. Steps in the evaluation process.

A full evaluation process will take a closer look at your child’s skills and special needs. The school will review all documents such as your child’s schoolwork and medical records. Testing and evaluation materials will assess specific areas of the student’s needs. The school will speak with your child and observe them, along with interviewing you, your child’s teachers and additional school team members.

4. Meet with your child’s school about the evaluation.

Once the evaluation is complete, you will meet with the school to review and find out if your child qualifies for a 504 plan or IEP. Request a meeting if the school hasn’t scheduled one on their own. If you disagree with the school system’s decision, pursue additional options to dispute this resolution.

5. Work with the school team to develop the plan.

If the school decides a 504 plan or IEP is appropriate for your child, you will work with the school team to develop the plan. The plan will document the student’s needs, any adjustments and assistance that will be provided to address those needs, how they will be provided, and when the school system will review the plan.

6. Follow up on your plan request.

Stay on top of your child’s 504 plan or IEP and follow up on the school’s delivery and assistance included in the plan and your child’s progress. Connect with the school regularly to make sure your child’s needs are being met, (e.g., emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings).

7. Review and revise the plan annually.

It’s a good idea to have an annual 504 plan or IEP review meeting to adjust to the child’s new school year needs. A plan should adjust for any changes in your child’s needs.