Students at schools with higher poverty rates oftentimes would benefit more from the 504 due to factors like environmental health issues.
But an analysis of data across the San Juan district shows schools with higher poverty rates tend to have fewer numbers of students with 504 plans.
Throughout all of the high schools in the district, there are approximately 575 504 plans being used for students.
Lower-income high schools like Encina with 36 plans and approximately 949 students and San Juan with 17 plans and approximately 596 students have just 53 plans combined, whereas a more affluent school, such as Rio Americano has about 160 plans among approximately 1950 students.
“More of (low-income students) should be using a 504,” said Barlow. “If they’re not eligible for Special Ed there are going to be more other small issues, and it’s generally going to be more prevalent in those communities. The parents don’t know about it, they aren’t educated on that.”
Education experts contend that the lack of knowledge provided to these lower-income students and their families only fuels the cycle of them lagging behind the students much more fortunate than they are. And, they say, this cycle will continue until the gap is addressed and taken care of.
“504s are meant to even the playing field with kids who have perceived disabilities but are not eligible for special education,” Barlow said. “And I’m not sure if this has been something that levels the playing fields at all.”