Friday, September 24, 2010

IEP VS 504

Today I had a meeting with the Special Ed folks. I wanted to address an issue with the interpreter's schedules. During the meeting I am told the school district reviewed my son's IEP and reported back that he doesn't qualify. They want to move him over to 504 accommodation. I remember a few years ago the deaf school said the same thing but because he is deaf he could still receive services. I hadn't thought about it much since then, until today. Maybe they are right?

Now I will have to research and figure this out. I have some time they never move quickly. The district is really great with what they offer. I have tons of experience with IEP jargon but none with 504 compliance.

I would love some feedback from anyone who has experience with this.


  1. I am not a legal expert, but my understanding is that as long as a child is under the age of 18 and within the school systems, they are qualified and MUST have an IEP. This sounds fishy to me.

  2. Well actually if the child is not at grade level they qualify. My son tests above grade level so in theory he doesn't. The intent of an IEP is to offer support to try and meet this goal.

    My worry is I may loose some power getting his accommodations with communication. I am also sure there are other issues pro and con that I haven't thought of. The good news is the district so far has been really awesome which is rare.

  3. I say no, because you want the school to make sure he is getting his education, I would be too scared that the interpreter would just interpret and no one pay attention if he is learning through the interpreter or not.

  4. If you Google that - IEP vs 504, you will get a lot of really good hits. has a very clear explaination of the differences. Here is a link:
    Basically as I understand it, an IEP can provide for specialized intervention, pull-outs and more parental legal rights than the 504. The 504 just involves any accommodations within a regular classroom that would be needed to allow the child full access to the curriculum.

  5. As a Canadian, my system is a bit different (at least in Ontario anyway).

    ALL Deaf children are required to be put on IEPs, simply because they are Deaf, regardless of whether they need support to access the curriculum, or surpassed grade level expectations.

    My eldest son who is a KODA (Hearing kid of Deaf adults) is on IEP because he was labelled as gifted. IEPS are supposed to be for those who need support with achieving curriculum expectations, AND those who need enrichment because they are above grade level.

    I have never heard of 504, though.

  6. My suggestion is "don't" let your school get away with this. This is a trend that is going on. Once they take the IEP away it is very hard to get it back. Research this closely.

    Sorry I had to post anonymous for time sake...


  7. IEP is one of section under 504...504 was created to require any school to give any accommodations that will help any students with DA(s) to be successful in classes. IEP is sort of agreement between parent of student with DA(s)and school as what to provide any service to student in order to help him/her to be achievement in academic. In addition, IEP team is required to provide parents with information like "hotline" to IEP/504 lawyer with free of charge and someone will explain everything to you and will answer any question you may have regarding IEP. Since there are many schools facing some budget cuts and that school may be one of them and trying to avoid from paying for some “extra” service for your child.

    By the way, you dont know me and I dont know you but I want to give some information to help you and your child.

  8. I think the important thing to keep in mind with IEP is that they are for children with educational disabilities. The disability must have an educational impact. If a child is on or above grade level, it is difficult to make an argument for educational impact.

    A 504 plan requires the school to provide accommodations, such as ramps for a child in a wheelchair or interpretation for a deaf child, necessary for a child to access their education. The main difference is that a child on a 504 plan does not receive direct instruction or related services, such as teacher of the deaf, special educator, SLP, OT, PT, etc. Those people can check in with the child but would not be directly teaching the child. Typically a 504 plan is put into place for students who are not behind academically but have a disability that is not going to go away anytime soon (diabetes, orthopedic impairment, deafness).

    The main question is: does the child needing accommodations also need direct special instruction or related services (OT, SLP, etc.)? If so, IEP is the way to go. If not, 504 is the way to go. The legal requirements for the school are the same. They are legally bound to provide accommodations and services specified in an IEP. They are legally bound to provide accommodations specified in a 504 plan. The point of a 504 plan is to prevent discrimination by providing equal educational access to all students.

    Another difference between IEP and 504 is that IEP is under the IDEA law. 504 is under the ADA law. IDEA covers children from birth through age 21. ADA covers all Americans, regardless of age. It is about nondiscrimination rather than special education. So a 504 plan can be implemented throughout the college and even graduate school years. The IEP would stop at age 21. It can be difficult for a bright person to begin a 504 plan at the college level. They might say that they will provide interpretation anyway, that he doesn't need a 504 plan stating that. It is typically easier if the student is already on a 504 plan in high school, which can easily lead to the 504 plan in college. It shouldn't be that way, and I'm sure you would fight for what your son needs if oops! they couldn't find an interpreter for that college math class and won't he be okay for a few weeks... but if a 504 plan fits him now or in high school, it might make your life easier later.

    Good luck with this process!

  9. Oh one more benefit of a 504 plan in the future... automatic accommodations on the GRE, the Praxis exams, the MCAT, etc. I've had deaf friends who were in college programs where interpretation was provided without "needing" a 504 plan or where the professors used ASL (such as at Gally, McDaniel, etc.), but they had to jump through major hoops to get accommodations on national tests. So even if you decide to fight for continued special education at this point, definitely start researching Section 504 and how it can benefit your son in the future.

  10. That a child above grade level doesn't need an IEP is ridiculous, in my opinion. You never know what a child's grade level will be in the future. Also, the IEP can ensure appropriate social and emotional development. I was doing fine from K-6th grade, but then I hit a wall at 6th grade and my social development was way behind.

    IEPs are a lot of work for the staff that have to do them, but that is no excuse for trying to get a student off one.

    Does he have an itinerant teacher? If not, it may be beneficial for him, the itinerant teacher can watch for social delays and other issues that hearing teachers would not recognize in a deaf child.

  11. Thanks for the comments! I am a little frustrated because my wi-fi keeps crashing while I research,,,grrrrr

    So on paper my son doesn't qualify for an IEP but I feel he still needs it. He is starting his second year of mainstream and I want to see how he does. I feel the IEP gives me more protection to have a voice in the quality of his services. Am I wrong? There is a clear process. I don't really understand how issues will be dealt with if he is on a 504 plan.

    He has an itinerant visit once a week now. On a 504 plan she will "check in". The funny thing is my son hates being on an IEP.

    Also with an IEP he is still protected by 504. I feel if he does make that transition it should be in high school not 7th grade. Any thoughts?

  12. I heard that it's very tough to actually hold the schools to anything on a 504 plan. My daughter is on a 504 plan and we haven't had any trouble yet.

  13. Hi Ericka!

    Good to hear you are having no worries. Maybe it will be OK for us.

    My kid is SO deaf. I am worried I can't be the advocate for his interpreting and captioning services. I am worried things will come up later and I won't have an easy time getting an IEP. I am worried 504 is not federally funded?

    Yikes, I hope it goes the right way.

  14. Ok, I might be annoyingly confused here, but without an IEP, what exactly will ensure that the itinerant continues to visit him? I thought that an IEP is what "forces" different people to work with a student. Since he does have an itinerant, perhaps the itinerant can write a few goals to be included in the IEP. These can be easy ones, such as "the student will attend to the interpreter" or "the student will share his experiences with his friends" and the itinerant teacher can be responsible for data collection.

  15. Hey there is not a soul that is annoying when entering this discussion! Parents of deaf kids have very little information about 504 plans.

    Where we live an itinerant will be required to "check in". The Special Ed department controls 504 plans because of lack of funding.

    The IEP is reviewed by test scores. Also my son has no social emotional goals. He can't fake anything to look like an IEP canidate on paper. He is in advanced math and tests at the 11th grade level in reading.
    In practice though i want to have the IDEA behind me because of federal funding. He is REALLY deaf and needs a lot of specialized accommodation. 504 as I understand it will allow the school to choose what to provide based on budget and opinion?

  16. You are worried 504 is not federally funded? Neither is IDEA! School districts use money meant for general education kids to fund special education. The federal government provides about a quarter of the cost to fund IDEA (while requiring that 100% of the law be enforced).

    "He can't fake anything to look like an IEP candidate..." That cracked me up! I don't blame him for not wanting one, though. If he doesn't see himself as disabled yet has services that are only available to children with disabilities...

    504 is as optional as any other part of ADA law--not optional at all. It's like if a doctor refused to get an interpreter for a deaf person. The deaf person could sue and would win. If the school didn't provide what they said, you could threaten to sue... and they know you would win. Same as if they didn't provide what was stated in an IEP. IDEA and ADA are both federal laws.

    But do doctors ever refuse to provide interpreters, hoping that the deaf person will keep the appointment to avoid the hassle of rescheduling? Do they count on deaf people not suing for their rights to be enforced? Of course. I suppose it's the same with 504. Some districts might not follow through on kids' 504 plans. Similarly, some districts do not follow through on kids' IEPs. If your district has been good about following the IEP, they would probably be good about following the 504 plan. But probably isn't definitely, and it's easy for me to say when it's not my kid. I do not envy you having to make this decision!

    I'm sure it will work out either way, because you will keep fighting for what your son needs, regardless of which acronym his accommodations fall under.

  17. because I'm not familiar with IEP's (yet), I chose not to weigh in, but I have to comment on the doctors not providing interpreters comment.

    Doctors don't always provide interpreters as they should. As I have been told from my Deaf sister, and her friends, there are many times they'll confirm an appt the day before (via VRS), and they get to the doctor to find they haven't called the interpreter yet. They wait until the Deaf individual shows up, THEN they call the interpreter, which means a nasty wait in the waiting room, every time.

    The doctor isn't "refusing" an interpreter, just not calling them in until they have to ... I'm sure it's a matter of semantics.

    My point has nothing to do with IEP's or 504's, of which I have limited experience. Its' simply, some people will do whatever they can to get out of providing services they are required to by law.

  18. I had an IEP today myself for my son who is 8 and in Third grade. I simply wanted to add an ASL interpreter to the services, because my son is missing bits and pieces. Well the director was invited to the meeting, and he couldn't understand my request! the Deaf and Hard of hearing specialist agreed with him, the principal was chiming in with her agreement as request was denied becasue my son is doing well in his school work. So I lost my first round, I was informed that they will mail me my denial letter soon!..... I felt like an Alien in this IEP meeting, so I signed after stating that I disagree with the results. Now what? I wait until he falls behind to qualify? I think any deaf/hh specialist who denies a hard of hearing student an interpreter should quit her job!
    Frustrated, annoyed, but not discouraged!

  19. For "anonymous" with the 8 year old:

    Pop up IEP help (including applicable laws) for D/HH kids. Hope that helps.

  20. I still wouldn't do it, He is in public school. it is so easy for him to fall between cracks in public school if an interpret don't do their job right.

  21. We met at a christmas party awhile back. I suggested you check out typewell.

    I went through the same thing about 15 years ago so I'm not sure if it's still relevant in the scheme of process. By 4th grade, it was obvious that I was at or above par among my peers. I begged my parents to let me attend my neighborhood school, since I didn't want to be different. They relented (a good decision it turns out) and I carried along with me an IEP. This allowed me to seamlessly carry my services over. By middle school I was lobbying to be taken off speech and off my IEP but my parents wanted to ensure that my services would continue (interpreter, teacher selection, pre-scheduling) into High School without problem (transitioning through schools within a district is actually a pretty big pain). The day I hit 9th grade, I started pushing for a 504. It took about a year to process.


    The funding for 504 is not as secured as for IEPs. I remember my principal yelling (his face turning really nicely red against his green and yellow tie) at the school board that just cause I don't qualify for IEP doesn't mean that I don't need interpreters. Eventually, the funding for my services came out of the overhead operating costs (which districts don't like because they can't apply for federal funding to support for disability accomodations).

    I don't think this will be a problem for your son, but ensure that 504 services are utilized DEFINITELY in Junior and Senior years of High School. Colleges will look at the services history profile and determine whether the student really "needs" (who's right is it to decide that?) the services. Also, the best part of the 504 (in my opinion) was the pre-selection of classes in college. I didn't have to go through a class lottery system and risk losing my spot in a course only offered once bi-annually, thus potentially lengthening my collegiate career.


  22. Wow thanks for the comment. At this point i am wanting to try and stall until High School. I am getting a lot of good feedback and it seems he should go on a 504 before college. Of course right now I am nervous because of the funding. Good to hear about pre-selection I hadn't thought of that.

    I remember you! Thanks for dropping by my blog and sharing useful information.