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Tuesday's Tip IEP VS. A 504 ACCOMMODATION PLAN

This week's focus is on teaching you about the two programs most scholars with disabilities have access to while in school. Our goal is to help you understand your options. Then you can leverage your knowledge and gain access to the services that best meet your scholar's individual needs. It is important to first note that The Section 504 plan is NOT an Individualized Education Program (IEP)! Understanding the differences can be critical as this is typically the only thing that can be clear about the two. If you have a scholar who should have an IEP and you are given a 504 Plan-instead, you will not be able to get most of the supports necessary for functional outcomes because most of them are not available under a 504 Plan.


504 Plan

Section 504 is a part of a civil rights statute called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It prohibits discrimination based upon a documented disability. It requires that the needs of scholars with disabilities be met as adequately as the needs of their peers without disabilities.

Section 504 states that NO qualified individual with a disability

  • be excluded from the participation in

  • be denied the benefits of, or

  • be subjected to discrimination.

under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance because of their disability. Most public schools (P-12 and college/universities) receive Federal financial assistance along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These organizations and employers include many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs. A scholar (who does NOT have an IEP under special education) but requires accommodations or modifications to assure that they will receive equal access to public education and services, during the school day, must have a written 504 plan to outline their specific accessibility requirements.

Scholars with 504 Plans do not require specialized instruction, but, like the IEP, a 504 Plan should be updated annually to ensure that the scholar is receiving the most effective accommodations for their individual needs.

  • It may address any documented disability that does not reach the level of severity for special education services required under IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Some examples of impairments which may substantially limit major life activities, even with the help of medication or aids/devices, are AIDS, ADD/ADHD, Allergies, Anxiety, blindness or visual impairment, cancer, deafness or hearing impairment, diabetes, drug addiction, heart disease, and mental illness.

  • Each public school has a 504 coordinator. This is usually a principal, assistant principal, or guidance counselor. This person coordinates the development, maintenance, and implementation of 504 plans.

  • Scholars with a disability that qualify are entitled to:

  • A 504 Accommodation Plan

  • Modifications

  • Accommodations

  • Due Process

  • Evaluations

IEP - Individualized Education Program

For scholars with disabilities who DO require specialized instruction

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) controls the procedural requirements.

  • An IEP is developed and requires measurable growth.

  • The IEP process is much more involved than the 504-plan process.

A scholar is classified as having a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act because they cannot access their education without specially designed instructions that include accommodations, modification, and/or related services.

They are entitled to:

  • A special education placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

  • An educational program addresses academic, extracurricular, and functional needs.

  • A specially designed Individual Education Program (IEP)

  • Modifications

  • Accommodations

  • Annual Review

  • Re-evaluations

  • Due process

  • Transition Services



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