Section 504 Services and Special Education Information

If you have concerns about your child, please discuss them with your child’s teacher first and they will let you know how to proceed.  You can also contact the Zilker Elementary Counselor, Elizabeth Vreeland at (512) 414-3318 or .

Laura Zavalney is the Campus Parent Ambassador for Zilker  coordinated by AISD’s Family & School Support Team. You can contact her & she can help point you in the right direction if you have questions, or email if you’d like to be on the special ed. mailing list to receive information about meetings & resources for special ed parents.

Campus Parent Rep Contact Info:


Section 504

Section 504 is a Federal law that was enacted to “level the playing field” to eliminate impediments to full participation by persons with disabilities. In legal terms, the statute was intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination against persons with disabilities, persons who are believed to have disabilities, or family members of persons with disabilities.

Under Section 504 and Title II, a person with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.


 At the elementary school level, dyslexia, ADHD, and medical services are some of the most common impairments serviced under 504.



Dys-lexia: dys—difficulty   lexia—with words

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

–       Males and females are equally affected

–       Influenced by heredity



Grades K-2

– trouble segmenting and blending sounds

– poor letter-sound recall

– poor application of phonics

– inconsistent memory for words and lists

– mispronouncing words

– inability to spell phonetically


Grades 3-4

– phonetic decoding is a struggle

– inconsistent word recognition

– poor spelling

– over reliance on context and guessing

– trouble learning new words (spoken)

– confusion about other symbols





Affecting three to seven percent of the population, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common of the childhood behavioral disorders. Associated with this disorder’s core symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are a variety of behaviors that may be disruptive in the classroom (e.g., calling out, leaving seat, interrupting activities, etc.).  Section 504 has been used to require the development of general education accommodation plans. These plans are designed to ensure that the student with ADHD is provided a free and appropriate education. Among the recommended accommodations are a variety of classroom interventions with a special emphasis on environmental modifications.


Medical Disabilities

Common medical disabilities eligible for 504 Services include (although there are many others):

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (survivor or in active treatment)
  • Traumatic or Acquired Brain Injury

Public schools are required by law to accommodate the health needs of students. The plan to accommodate health needs may require a Health Plan in addition to a 504 plan.


Other Disabilities

Highly individualized accommodation plans may be necessary based on characteristics and symptoms of the individual student’s medical disability.

For more information on other medical disabilities, please contact the 504 Services department at 512-414-6645.


Special Education


The term “Special Education” means specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.  In general, special education services provide specially designed instruction that involves modifications to the curriculum itself and/or the way the curriculum is taught to meet the specific needs of the student.  Other special education-related services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy may also be needed.  These are just a few of the related services that could be provided.




Special Programs at Zilker


PPCD: PPCD provides special education services for any eligible child with an identified need who is between the ages of 3, 4, and 5. Services are provided at no costs to parents.

The goal of the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities is to provide early intervention on various campuses throughout Austin ISD. Each child who meets eligibility for PPCD services will have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) developed through an Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee to address need in the following areas: Language/Communication, Social Behavioral, Gross and Fine Motor, Daily Living Skills, Pre-Academic and Academic concepts. All services are provided by professional staff in the areas of need for each child. Individualized Education Plans are developed collaboratively by a team who is familiar with the student both at home and in the school setting. R

Services (SCORES)

SCORES: Social Communication Resources and Services (SCORES) is an instructional service that supports students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and/or other disabilities demonstrating impairment in social, communication, and behavioral skills. Through an Admission, Review, Dismissal (ARD) committee, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed with appropriate goals to address each student’s individual needs in these areas.


SBS: Social Behavior Skills (SBS) is a service that provides behavioral support and interventions to facilitate the emergence and development of an internal locus of control that equips students to think, decide, and make choices in the self-responsible ways that can lead to success and joy in living. If a student meets eligibility for SBS, the ARD committee will identify the appropriate goals to address behavioral needs through an IEP.

SCORES and SBS services may include support in inclusive settings as well as small group instruction and may also be included as part of a continuum of supports in special education.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between Section 504 and Special Education?

Both students in special education and students with 504 plans have a documented disability or impairment. For students in special education, their disability has a significant educational impact, and requires the provision of direct specialized instruction, in addition to supplementary aids and services. Students with 504 plans have a documented impairment which substantially limits their ability to perform a major life activity and only requires accommodations.



What do I need to do if I suspect my child has dyslexia?

Talk with your child’s teacher or school administrator!  He/she may be noticing the same patterns.  At this point, your child’s teacher will try evidence- based interventions to help support your child for approximately 6 weeks and document the interventions in eCST (the software used to document during the Child Study process).  If the interventions are successful, the teacher will continue to provide the interventions and communicate progress.


When the interventions do not appear to be effective, your child’s teacher should refer the student to CST (Child Study Team) to meet for review.  If the CST recommends evaluation for dyslexia, the 504 coordinator (Mrs. Vreeland, Counselor) will notify parents to get consent before the evaluation is conducted. At this time, the parents can give consent for an initial evaluation for dyslexia.  The evaluation is administered by a diagnostician at a later date and an evaluation report is written.  When the report is sent back to Mrs. Vreeland, she will notify you when the 504 meeting will take place to go over the data.  This entire process takes approximately 30 days.  The process may also be initiated by a parent’s written request for an evaluation.


Can my child be both gifted and dyslexic?

Twice exceptional is a term used to describe students who are both intellectually gifted and learning disabled, which includes students with dyslexia.


What do I need to do if I suspect my child has ADHD?

Contact Mrs. Vreeland or your child’s teacher.  The CST will meet and document interventions.  Mrs. Vreeland will contact you to set up an initial 504 meeting to share observations and concerns.  Both the parent and teacher will complete the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale which provides more information about your child, but does not make any diagnosis.  You can use this information to bring to your child’s pediatrician.  In order to qualify for section 504, there needs to be a diagnosis from a medical doctor.  Some families choose to have a more comprehensive evaluation done by an outside psychologist.  This can be used as well, but we still need a diagnosis from a MD.


What is an individual accommodation plan?

An IAP is created by the 504 committee and is a legal document that outlines a plan of instructional services for students in the general education setting.  It is created by the 504 committee of knowledgeable people.


What are some examples of accommodations?

Accommodations vary based on the impairment.  They are done by the classroom teacher in the classroom setting.  Some examples include:

–          extra time on assignments/tests

–          having words/sentences read orally

–          preferential seating

–          small group

–          prioritized assignments

–          reduced distractions

–          use of a computer or spell checker


How often to we meet as a 504 committee?

We meet annually to review accommodations and get input from teachers and parents.  There is a re-evaluation every 3 years.


What do I need to do if I suspect my child has a learning disability?

Talk with your child’s teacher or school administrator!  Share your observations and concerns.  Your child’s teacher will implement and document interventions being done in the classroom and monitor your child’s progress for approximately 6 weeks.  The teacher will also refer your child to the Child Study Team (CST) to gain insight, support, strategies, and advice from the team.  If there is no evidence of progress, the team will meet with you and get consent to move forward with testing.  Parents can also request testing by talking to your child’s teacher or school administrator.  Special education committee meetings are called ARD meetings (Admission, Review, and Dismissal committee).


What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

Commonly referred to as an IEP, an individualized education program is a written plan that is designed for any student who receives special education and related services. IEPs are required for every special education student under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. The IEP describes the goals that are set for the student over the course of the school year and spells out any special supports needed to help achieve those goals. Parents are an important part of the IEP process.



Information from the sources below:








5. Lyon, G.R., Shaywitz, S. E., Shaywitz, B.A. (2003). A definition of dyslexia.  Annals of

Dyslexia, 53, 1-14.