I believe the student would have been better served by a IEP that offered proper supports and services. I advised parents of the greater protections offered under the IEP.
A 504 Plan and an IEP provide protections to students with disabilities, but the protections offered by IEPs and those offered by 504s are not the same.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a broad federal civil rights law. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. The law requires agencies, schools or institutions to eliminate any barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating fully in educational programs offered by the agency. It requires a written 504 Plan identifying reasonable accommodations that will be made to give the child equal educational access.
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as:
- Having a physical or mental impairment which limits one or more major life activity;
- Have a record of such an impairment; or
- Are regarded as having an impairment.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires that eligible students ages 3-21 receive a written individualized education program (IEP) that provides for personalized supplemental educational supports and services in order to make meaningful progress in school at no cost to the parents. This requirement makes IDEA an excellent law for students with special needs.
Requires written notice to parent/guardian prior to identification, evaluation and/or placement of child.
Changes of services or placement must have written notice before any change can take place. Requires due process rights to be followed at all times and manifestation determination hearing for discipline procedures.
For any child with behavioral concerns a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) must be completed and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) written to assist student in learning appropriate behaviors and providing supports to enable student to be successful in their learning community.
Does not require written notice.
Requires notice before a "significant change" in placement — requires due process rights if referred for formal evaluation under IDEA, and the team determines not to evaluate.
IEP or 504
A family should consider the needs of their child when deciding to accept a 504 or push for an IEP. If your child has a disability that does not directly impact the child's ability to learn, a 504 plan may be most appropriate.
If the child requires curriculum modifications, supports and/or "specially designed" instruction an IEP will best serve and protect the child.