How to Write 504 Plans

5 Tips to Stay Organized as a Coordinator

Kendra Fogarty, M.Ed.
How to write 504 plans: 5 tips to stay organized as a coordinator

Serving as a 504 Coordinator/Case Manager is not an easy task – especially if you’re also balancing other responsibilities as a School Counselor (or other role). 

It’s likely that your graduate coursework did not include the topic of Section 504. You are definitely not alone if you feel like you’re rowing upstream in a canoe that may also be filling with water. 

Let’s keep your canoe from flipping and start with these 5 Tips to Stay Organized as a Section 504 Coordinator. 

1. Keep Template Drafts of Evaluations

Instead of starting from scratch on each evaluation, craft a template from an evaluation that includes all the common components: parent input, teacher observations, medical/diagnosis information, etc. 

To avoid awkward mistakes with missing pronoun corrections, keep two versions- one for a male student and one for a female (if you end up completing one for a student that is non-binary, keep that on hand as well). 

Additionally, (hot tip alert!) use the “find and replace” feature to swap student names (as well as parent names) with just a few clicks. You can find this trick in the edit menu tab on google docs or [command+shift+h] on a Mac. 

2. Print out Emails or Create Inbox Folders

You will naturally need to keep files on all of your students with their required documents. In addition, you may want to include other communications as it can become challenging to remember what emails have been sent along with all of the details of those correspondences. Help jog your memory quickly by printing out a copy of relevant parent, teacher, or administrator email chains. This can also be a helpful paper trail to support transitions from each grade level. As with all documents related to Section 504, maintaining appropriate confidentiality is essential. 

Depending how comfortable you are with technology, for a greener option, create grade level folders in your inbox and then create subfolders with each student. You can then easily archive the emails, but they may be less easily accessible than the printed versions. You may also want to back these files up, in case there is a tech-fail. 

3. Schedule Early 

Within your first week of heading back to work, tentatively schedule out your entire year. This is especially important if you require administrators at your meetings who are spread pretty thin. You can choose to inform parents at this time as well (and also remind them closer to the date) or you can wait until you are about 2 months from the meeting date, in case there is a scheduling conflict on their end. 

You also want to give yourself a solid buffer prior to the review date. Do not schedule your meetings the day before they are due to be reviewed! I would suggest at least a month, but if you have time earlier in the year, I would suggest bumping up as many reviews as you are able. 

4. Keep a checklist for each student

With your folder that we discussed in #1, keep a checklist that helps you keep track of the required documents and the students timeline. Again, it’s tough to keep track when you have 5 or more evaluations occurring simultaneously. It’s extremely awkward and unprofessional when you realize that you have missed a parent invitation or are (gasp!) way behind on a re-evaluation. 

5. Keep a Masterlist with all student cases

I think the main rule of Section 504 Case Management is: do not trust your own memory. You’ll want a masterlist that includes all the relevant information about all of the students in your caseload. I prefer to organize tabs by grade level and then within each tab, I sort by students that are new referrals, needing reviews, and then completed reviews. For each student, you’ll need all their dates, impairments, testing accommodations, special notes, teachers, etc. 

As a 504 Case Manager that nearly sunk, it became my mission to help support those that are struggling to balance this demanding role. Check out this free mini-chat that also includes templates for your checklist (#4) and masterlist (#5)!

Additionally, check out my book, How to Manage 504 with Less Stress and More Confidence: An Informal Guide for Coordinators. It will help you streamline your process and if you’re a counselor, too – you’ll gain more time to focus on what matters most- your students (and your own family!) For a more thorough training, learn more about The 504 Masterclass.