IEPs and 504 Plans
A student qualifies for special education services and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) if because of mental, physical, or emotional reasons, the child has been identified as having a disability and who requires special services or programs. Students can be classified as having: Autism, Deafness, Deaf-blindness, Emotional disturbance, Hearing impairment, Learning disability, Mental retardation, Multiple disabilities, Orthopedic impairment, Other health impairment, Speech or language impairment, Traumatic brain injury, or Visual impairment (including blindness).
The CSE develops an IEP that considers the results of the evaluations and district-wide tests or assessments, the student’s strengths, parents’ concerns, and the needs of the student. The IEP lists goals and objectives for the student’s school year, a list of programs and services, special equipment or technology, program and testing modifications that the student requires, supports to help the teacher implement the IEP, and transition plans for older students.
School districts are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities. A student has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity including caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A student with such a disability is entitled to reasonable accommodations and services so that they can benefit from school programs and activities the same as children without disabilities. Students can get various accommodations through a 504 Plan such as medication support in school, use of a nebulizer, environmental modifications such as ramps and elevators, use of tape recorders, testing accommodations, modified schedule, and assistance of a par-professional.
An article providing additional information explaining the differences between IEPs and Section 504 Plans can be found here: http://www.ldonline.org/article/6086