What’s the Difference Between a 504 Plan and an IEP?
Are there differences between a 504 plan and an IEP?
How do I know which plan is right for my child?
Which document your child will most benefit from depends on their unique needs. According to Carey, a 504 is sufficient when a child needs support accessing the learning environment or content. A 504 plan will typically only cover accommodations and, in some cases, services. On the other hand, as Clark tells us, a child who needs “either specialized academic instruction or to be in a special education classroom will probably need an IEP.”
Clark adds, “Every child is different. Every situation is different. But an IEP does provide more as far as protections for the child. So, generally speaking, if you qualify for an IEP, you would get everything you could get from the 504, plus other things — it’s more comprehensive.”
If you’re unsure whether your child needs a 504 plan or an IEP, Clark suggests contacting the school for support. She says, “A parent can request that their child be assessed, which will provide information about the type of supports their child needs. From there, the parent and school can discuss whether an IEP or 504 would be more appropriate."
Can my child have both a 504 plan and an IEP?
Can I convert my child’s IEP to a 504 plan?
“It’s great if a child doesn’t need an IEP anymore because that means that the IEP has worked,” Clark says. However, that doesn’t mean a student would no longer need or benefit from some accommodations. In that case, it is possible to request a 504 plan.
Carey tells us, “In order to exit a child from an IEP, assessments need to be done to show that the need for specialized instruction is no longer there. A 504 for accommodations, like more time on tests, can be set up by requesting it in writing. You can also request it at the final IEP meeting.” (Read about how to request an IEP meeting here.) Once a 504 is requested in writing, your child will need to go through the entire process, even if they’ve been assessed for an IEP. The school might conduct an assessment or accept medical documentation, like a letter from your child’s doctor. A meeting will be held and at that time, the school will determine if they believe assessments are necessary.
Did we answer all your questions about 504 plans and IEPs? What other questions do you have? Let us know!