What is an IEP and 504 Plan?
Individual Education Plan
An IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. Once a child is determined to be eligible for a special education program, they can receive specially designed instruction that meets their unique needs.
A team of qualified professionals, along with the parent or guardian, determines the services and specialized instruction necessary to meet the student’s needs. The team then creates a document outlining how instruction is to be delivered and the duration of the services. After the parent or guardian gives consent for their child to receive help, these services begin immediately. Progress is monitored and is reviewed at least once a year, or more often if conditions warrant or if the child’s parent or teacher requests a meeting. Many parents employ a professional advocate to help determine needs and present their child’s IEP to the county’s approval committee.
Section 504 Plan
Section 504 is part of a federal civil rights law known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law specifically prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and guarantees them a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Schools cannot exclude students with disabilities from facilities, programs, benefits, activities, or services that are provided to students without disabilities. Students with disabilities receiving ESE services, as defined by IDEA, are protected under Section 504, but not all Section 504 students are eligible for ESE.
A Section 504 plan describes the accommodations the school will provide to support the student’s education. The team that determined the student’s eligibility for Section 504 and identified the needed accommodations will write the accommodation plan. While Section 504 does not require a written plan, it does require documentation of evaluations and accommodations. Parents, teachers, and other staff members meet to discuss all relevant information about the student. If the team determines that the student does have a disability, they will then identify what types of support or accommodations are appropriate to meet the student’s needs. The accommodations are then described in a document referred to as the 504 plan. The plan provides clarity and direction to the individuals delivering services or making accommodations. Section 504 accommodation plans may be updated at any time to reflect changes and recommendations by the team. A yearly review is recommended.