Inside: Learn what an IEP provides and what a 504 provides, and why it’s not a case of “more is better.
Can you have a 504 and an IEP? Yes, it is possible for a student to have both an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a 504 Plan.
IEP and 504 Plan
An IEP is a legal document that outlines the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.
It is developed through a collaborative process involving parents, educators, and other professionals, and is designed to ensure that the student receives appropriate accommodations, services, and supports to meet their educational goals.
An IEP is only available to students who have been identified as having a disability that qualifies them for special education services.
A 504 Plan, on the other hand, is a plan developed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Also Read: The Difference Between an IEP and 504 Plan
This law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires schools to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications to allow students with disabilities to participate in the curriculum on an equal basis with their peers.
A 504 Plan is available to students with disabilities who do not require special education services.
The Case for Both a 504 Plan and an IEP
Many parents are under the assumption that “more is better.” That if their child has two documents for their education, surely that makes a stronger case for the child’s needs being met.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Your child does not “receive more” just because they have two federal documents instead of just one. Because one (the 504 plan) has fewer protections.
It is possible for a student to have both an IEP and a 504 Plan if they meet the eligibility criteria for both. In some cases, a student may have an IEP for their special education needs, and a 504 Plan for any additional accommodations they require.
In other cases, a student may have a 504 Plan to address their disability-related needs, but may also require special education services.
But having both is overkill and unnecessary.
Why a Child Shouldn’t Need Both an IEP and a 504
An IEP offers more protections and more rights for parents.
Any accommodations that a child would need, even if they are unrelated to the disability for which a child is receiving special education, can be listed on an IEP.
A 504 Plan is for accommodations only. A 504 plan does not provide special education. It also was never intended to be an “IEP Lite” but that is how they are too often being used today. But I digress.
If your child’s disability only requires that they need a 504 plan with accommodations, then a 504 plan is what they need.
If the child’s needs require special education and accommodations, put the accommodations on the IEP.
Having both a 504 plan and an IEP is twice the work for the school. If the IEP team is doing both, then just do an IEP. It makes little sense, if the child has an IEP, to do the work of both.
504 Accommodations on an IEP
Over the years, I’ve heard lots of general weirdness from IEP teams when it comes to some accommodations. In particular, when the accommodations are more “medical” such as feeding tubes, breathing and suction, and diabetes and seizure-related accommodations.
I’ve heard random (and unfounded) claims like:
- We ‘have to’ put medical plan accommodations on a 504.
- “This” disability accommodation can only go on a 504.
Remember that there are no “have tos” when it comes to IEPs. If the child needs the accommodation, they can go on an IEP if the child has one.
There is nothing in IDEA or Section 504 that states that any specific accommodation or disability has to be listed on a 504 plan rather than the child’s IEP.
IEPs are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Who Qualifies for a 504 Plan?
All students with IEPs are also covered under Section 504. A student who is determined to have a disability can receive any services or accommodations determined necessary to allow for equitable participation in educational programs and extracurricular activities.
A 504 plan is a plan created under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The purpose of a 504 plan is to provide students with disabilities equal access to education by providing accommodations and modifications that address their individual needs.
To qualify for a 504 plan, a student must have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities can include things like seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, learning, or caring for oneself. Examples of disabilities that may qualify for a 504 plan include ADHD, anxiety, depression, asthma, diabetes, and other medical conditions that impact daily functioning.
To determine eligibility for a 504 plan, the school district will typically conduct an evaluation that includes information from the student’s parents, healthcare providers, and educators. The evaluation will look at the student’s medical history, academic performance, and any other relevant information to determine if the student meets the eligibility criteria for a 504 plan.
If a student is found to be eligible for a 504 plan, the school district will develop a plan that outlines the accommodations and modifications that will be provided to the student to address their individual needs. Examples of accommodations that may be included in a 504 plan include extended time on tests, preferential seating, assistive technology, and modified assignments.
Overall, to qualify for a 504 plan, a student must have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and the school district must determine that accommodations and modifications are necessary to provide the student with equal access to education.
Both 504 Plans and IEPs are legally binding documents, and schools are required to provide the accommodations and services outlined in the plan.
The decision about whether a student should have an IEP, a 504 Plan, or both, is made through a collaborative process involving parents, educators, and other professionals.
The goal is to ensure that the student receives the appropriate accommodations, services, and support to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
Like anything else, if you disagree with your IEP team, make your request in writing and follow up with a PWN. Unfortunately, I cannot make this same statement about a 504 plan, as 504 teams are not required to provide PWNs.