+ WHAT IS IT?

Within the special education system in public schools, exceptional learners may have access to school-provided services. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is put in place for those students who qualify with the intent to provide different and targeted services and instruction that specifically address the student’s exceptional needs. IEP’s and the process to qualify for one is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Please note that qualifying criteria for an IEP can be different from state to state.

A 504 plan is intended to provide accommodations for students with physical or mental conditions that substantially limit “a major life activity”. 504 refers to the section of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which provides the guidelines for the plan. A child does NOT require a diagnosis to qualify for a 504 Plan, but an evaluation that takes into account information from multiple sources must be completed by a school-based team to determine if a 504 is necessary and if so, what accommodations will be offered.

Please see the Additional Resources section for more information about the entire IEP and 504 process.

+ HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

IEP’s and 504 plans are not diagnosis, but children with diagnosed exceptionalities may qualify for services or accommodations under these plans. It is important to note that a diagnosis does not always qualify a student for an IEP’s and/or 504 plan.

+ HOW IS IT MANAGED?

The starting point to request an IEP or 504 begins with submitting a formal request to your child’s school. Alternatively, a school may contact a family and suggest starting the process to access services.

See the Additional Resources section here for templates for requesting and IEP or 504 plan.

+ HOW CAN THINKING CAP HELP?

Thinking Cap can be a guide and an advocate for you as you navigate either the IEP or 504 process. We often attend meetings at every stage of the process as well as provide documentation that can be used to help determine qualification for either IEP’s or 504 plans.

+ ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Understanding a 504 Plan Process
Understanding the IEP Process
Wright’s Law: A website dedicated to legal issues within Special Education: www.wrightslaw.com