Understanding The Differences Between Section 504 And IEPs
Children with special needs often encounter barriers in school. At The Law Office of Meagan Nuñez in San Diego, we are devoted to ensuring that children with disabilities receive the full level of assistance they need to receive the education they deserve.
If you are a parent of a child with a disability, the phrases “504 plan” and “individualized education program” (IEP) may be familiar to you. However, many parents do not understand the differences between the two federally mandated strategies to facilitate educational opportunities for children.
What Is Section 504?
Section 504 is a civil rights law aimed at ensuring that a child with a qualified disability has the same opportunities to attend school as students who do not have disabilities. The law applies to schools to avoid inadvertent discrimination against students with disabilities.
What may qualify as a disabling condition under section 504 is fairly broad in nature. A mental or physical condition that has an impact on one or more major life activities may be sufficient to trigger a 504 plan.
A student who uses a wheelchair may need reasonable accommodations to have proper access to the classroom – making ramps or elevators available or holding classes on the first floor may be reasonable. A student with asthma may receive reasonable accommodations in physical education programs. Similarly, a student with diabetes may need to have access to a snack in the classroom.
What Is An IEP?
On the other hand, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to provide services for students whose disabilities adversely affects their educational performance. The law requires the school to refer a student who may qualify for an assessment.
If the student qualifies for special education under IDEA, the school must work with the parents to create an IEP. IDEA is aimed at providing additional services for children with disabilities that are designed to meet the child’s educational needs. The individualized education plan is a benefit that includes specialized instruction and related services for the student.
Committed To Protecting Your Child’s Rights
For many students, a written 504 plan is sufficient to ensure a student has access to free and appropriate education. However, with budgetary pressures, some students are directed toward a 504 plan when they really need the additional services mandated under IDEA.
At The Law Office of Meagan Nuñez, our lawyers are well-versed in all aspects of special education law. We are committed to helping parents understand the nuances of the law to ensure their children are receiving the services to which they are entitled under federal and California laws.
To be eligible for special education services, parents need to know that the law recognizes 13 specific categories of impairing conditions. Learning disabilities are one of the many kinds of difficulties that may require an IEP analysis. We are fully prepared to help parents evaluate individual circumstances to understand rights under section 504 and special education laws.
Arrange Your Free Initial Consultation
To learn how our experienced lawyers can guard the rights of your child to receive free and appropriate education, call 619-757-1290 or use our online contact form. The initial consultation is free. We offer flexible scheduling to accommodate your needs.