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IEP or 504 Plan, Which Does My Child Need?

Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye Oct. 10, 2014

Does my child need a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs?

A 504 Plan is a different program than an IEP and can be used to provide your child with educational accommoEdations.

What Is an IP?

The term 504 plan refers to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The purpose of 504 is to protect disabled people from discrimination based on the existence of their disability. Discrimination prohibited under Section 504 includes exclusion from school activities and forced participation in separate programs.

It helps to understand 504 plans, by thinking about previous and general discrimination. It was not that long ago when stores, venues, stadiums, convention centers were not required to have handicap accessible entrances. Today, it’s rare not seeing a handicapped entrance to a public building, and most would consider it discrimination Not to have handicapped entrances. You would consider it discrimination for a school to place a blind child in a special classroom because they are blind.

504 Plans provide accommodations for students with disabilities to prevent discrimination. To qualify, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that limits at least one major life activity. Some major life activities are walking, seeing, reading, writing, breathing, caring for oneself, among others.

If a child has one of these impairments but does not need special education services, that child is eligible for a 504 Plan.

Understanding a 504 Plan and The IEP, What Are the Differences?

Remember IEPs is about providing students with a “free, appropriate public education” or FAPE. For children with IEPs, this means the provision of educational services that allow them to derive a benefit from their education.

504 plans, on the other hand, are about access to education. FAPE under 504 means the provision of services designed to meet the disabled person’s needs as well as the needs of a person without a disability.

Unlike IEPs, 504 plans will not require schools to provide individualized programs to meet the child’s educational needs. 504 is about discrimination and what modifications are necessary to prevent discrimination.

Children with IEPs are automatically protected under section 504 of the Act even if they do not have a 504 Plan. Children with 504 plans are not necessarily protected under IEP laws.

504 Plans are important for children with disabilities who can participate in general education with modifications or accommodations.

IEPs are important for children with disabilities and need special education services in order to benefit from the education they are receiving.

Neither is better than the other, but one is definitely a better fit for your child.

If you are the parent of a disabled child and need help with school, please contact us to set up an appointment or call us. 

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