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Does a Child Need an IEP AND a 504 Plan?

by Wrightslaw

“Can a child have an IEP for speech and a 504 for academic interventions?”

There is nothing in the law that says a child with a disability should have an IEP for some needs and a 504 plan for others. It’s confusing, it’s more work, and it’s unnecessary.

A school that does not understand the requirements for educating children with disabilities may prepare both forms. If the school prepares two plans, they are just making more paperwork.

It makes no sense to have two different plans to meet the needs of the same child – the IEP will cover everything.

There is no reason to have an IEP for speech (or OT or academic remediation) and a 504 plan for other needs that are related to a child’s disability.

If your child has a disability and an IEP, he is automatically covered by Section 504. If your child has an IEP and needs academic interventions, this should be included his IEP. The IEP is required to address ALL of a child’s needs that are related to the disability.

In addition, an IEP also provides the child and the child’s family with more rights and protections than 504 plans.

Read more about the Key Differences Between Section 504, the ADA, and the IDEA. (

Key Differences Between Section 504 and IDEA. (

Considerations for Senior Year

Parents should consider having a 504 plan from the public school in the last two years prior to attending college, since college disability offices recognize 504 and ADA, but not IDEA.

Read this outstanding article by Marilyn Bartlett, Transitioning from High School to Post-Secondary Education.

Dr. Bartlett explains why transition from the IEP to a 504 plan in the freshman or sophomore year can be very important.

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111 Comments on "Does a Child Need an IEP AND a 504 Plan?"

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04/21/2012 4:35 pm

My child is dyslexic and the IEE proved it. It should not have taken years of missed opportunitieis for the school district to recognize such but she does have LD as the disability category. I stopped blaming and started educating myself through Wrightslaw and state agencies. My child is making progress, plans to attend college, etc. I advise you to keep the advocate but to educate your self and take any workshops on special education. Don’t depend fully on the advocate. You are your child’s expert, educate yourself! The district staff will respect you for such… Read more »

04/21/2012 4:20 pm

Kudos to you for hiring an advocate. A school administrator told me that I did not need an advocate when my child entered special education in the 2nd grade. I trusted her advice. She was nice but misguided and a gatekeeper. I was led around in circles and had to hire an advocate when she was in middle school. The school district paid for an independent report and she had severe reading deficits, executive functioning, etc. It was too late to fully get remediated for reading as the window of opportunity closed around third grade or… Read more »

04/20/2012 9:42 pm

My son has had a iep for speech since 3yrs old in a public school he is 9yrs old in 3rd grade in Florida. This year I have seen word substitutions and “B” and “D” confusion, knowing his name starts with a B. The school this year says he needs a 504 plan also for more time alloted for FCAT test. I signed now he has both. I demanded him be retested since he has not been tested since 3yrs. They are saying he is ADHD but I think he is dyslexic because, my husband… Read more »

04/19/2012 1:36 pm

My child (6) has autism. He is on his 5th school which is an alternative school. I’ve attended too many IEP meetings and seen too many fake smiles and “we’re here to help you” comments. The schools are not there to help the parents, let alone the child. They’re only following their protocal to save federal money for other areas. I was intentionally being lead in circles by the school board in the IEP Meetings.
Three real problems: Classroom Teachers are not BCBA certified, Short Staff: Speech and occupational therapist, IEP is vague and doesn’t address my son’s needs. Best advice… Read more »

Sharon L.
03/21/2012 10:40 pm

La Donya – The school is not technically on the hook to do an evaluation until you complete their official consent form & sign it. If you do not hear from them request a meeting to sign the consent form. After this they have 60 days to perform the evaluation. After that you may request a copy of the results in a DRAFT form to show an advocate, attorney or physician who can help you determine what the scores mean, etc. There will be meeting to discuss the results & determine eligibility. You do not… Read more »

La Donya
03/20/2012 10:21 pm

My daughter has a 504 plan that is not working. I wrote the school psychologist and requested that our daughter be reassessed and that an IEP be developed. The school psychologist rerouted me to the 504 intervention coach, stating that there me be little change if our daughter is retested. However she never answered the question or our request. I feel like we are going in circles. Our daughter has auditory, memory/recall problems. The director from educational services requested that we meet again. My husband and I are apprehensive as it appears that we are being ignored.

03/10/2012 7:17 pm

I do not understand how I can write an IEP for a speech impairment and write academic accommodations that are not at all related to a speech disability? I thought the accommodations had to be related to the speech disability. Not being able to say the R sound has nothing to do with a reading problem, and are not related. Can you please help me understand this? I work in the schools as a speech therapist and this seems incorrect. Then, does this mean I am responsible for the academic accommodations?

02/22/2012 2:44 am

My son of 14 years has mosaic downs syndrome. He has had a tss worker with him in school for the past 6 years. Just recently the school has taken upon themselves to dismiss our tss worker for petty, reasons. Mostly in school adult women drama. She has been by our son for those 6 years and has greatly contributed to our sons success in his life. Now we have to start all over. Next year he starts 9th grade. So what I’m asking is, what rights do they have to do such a thing. How can they take away… Read more »

t judge
02/20/2012 10:01 pm

Just have a question about obtaining a TSS worker for my son. We are currently filing an appeal because they denied my son services. My husband is a Veteran and wants to know if this will help us trying to obtain a tss worker.
Please let me know if this makes any sense. Many veterans are able to get their families special services because of VA benefits.

02/03/2012 3:19 pm

Does a child have to have a disability to qualify for a 504 plan?

Sharon L.
01/29/2012 7:57 pm

Jessica, My son has changed schools also & the school is obligated by law to follow the IEP unless they do a new re-eval & usually there is no need to do that. If they do not have the resources to provide what the previous school was doing they cannot unilaterally change the IEP without your permission. You do not have to sign anything. My son is dyslexic & the school could not provide the services he needed so they hired an outside tutor who was able to provide the services. They payed for the tutor… Read more »

01/24/2012 6:50 am

My son has an IEP and we just moved to a new school and they said they cant fulfill it so they are doing other things and changed the IEP..I am wondering where the Funding is going that they receive for my child..DO they receive any?

Sharon L.
12/18/2011 11:52 pm

Susan – If the school’s testing shows no LD you may opt to get an outside evaluation at the school’s expense. You need to write a letter to the principal &/or spec ed director stating that you do not agree with the results of the test or the placement of your child & you would like to seek outside eval at school’s expense which is your right. I send one letter certified mail to be sure they get it. The school should send a letter of places you can get the outside testing. You do NOT… Read more »

12/09/2011 9:22 am

How do we convince the school to change from a 504 to an IEP, when additional services are needed? The school is well aware that there is more protection under an IEP, but says all the IEP type services can simply be provided under a 504. Large print texts, extra time on tests, assignments, homework, tutoring to help with learning to take notes in a manner to works with visual disability This is an honor student who just scored in the 44% on the writing section of the SAT due to grammar mistakes. (Poor spelling and handwriting are not supposed… Read more »

Sharon L.
12/03/2011 11:25 am

Ruth – The school cannot make change of placement without your consent or if they insist on the change they must provide you with “prior written notice” as to why. Either way they cannot do it without your knowledge. If they do they are out of compliance. Perhaps you should get a meeting together to see why the accommodations are not being followed. Take an advocate with you if you can or someone knowledgeable in hearing loss (a professional). You may have to pay for the professional’s time whether in person or on the phone but… Read more »

12/01/2011 11:43 pm

My child is in the ninth grade this year. She has had an IEP for 4 years now. She has a hearing loss that requires her to have a individualized hearing device. She is a honor student and does not require time in any special ED classroom. She only requires accommodations on her IEP. The school district is trying to force us to change her IEP to a 504. We are very hesitant to do this because the school district has not done anything they said they were going to do. The device she has, has been left setting on… Read more »

11/09/2011 11:32 pm

Sharron L- thank you so much with your input. I just think he is going thru adolescent changes. I can’t see how they would find it a disability. Does anyone know the process of this whole thing. What do they evaluate him with? What sort of test? Questions? I feel so bad that I even haven’t told him yet, I am afraid he might think we all think of him as stupid. He is such a bright and wonderful child. Please shed some light to this matter?????

Sharon L.
10/30/2011 8:36 pm

Sue – If the school is coming to you to get your child testing to see if he qualifies for spec ed services that could be a good thing. It will be more difficult as your child gets older if you find out later he needs spec ed & you try to get him in when he is 16 or 17. Read as much as you can on the IEP process & ask parents with special needs kids. There may be a support group available as well. I know how you feel when you are knew… Read more »

10/28/2011 5:51 pm

Hello, i have a 12 year old son in middle school, and the school wants him to be evaulated for learning disabilities.
My son is bright child and is just going through some adolescent changes. Last year i told them that he struggles whilr taking tests so they told me that i can sign the 504 content, without a doctors signature and he would have extra time on exams and not be labeled. He has had pretty good report cards in the whole timebhe has been in school. Do they just target some kids due to funding they might recieve. Thus… Read more »

10/03/2011 10:22 am

I have had several bad experiences with the public school and charter public schools in regard to manipulating the truth. It is wise to do your research before going into any IEP or 504 meeting. Don’t take their word. I trusted and my son has paid for it. Ask them to show you the laws in writing and be prepared to wait or be dealing with angry people after having them sign a request. As with anything, I believe there are a few exceptions to the rule. God may place someone who is willing… Read more »

05/23/2011 12:28 am

I asked the 504/IEP question of our state special education supervisor. There is no need for both. Whatever modifications are provided on the 504 can also be written into the IEP.

05/19/2011 10:46 pm

I am the parent of a very gifted young man that missed out on a scholar ship that would benefit him greatly in the future – however – I advise you parents not to allow your child to be taken out of English or any class for that fact to take special education courses. More than that they don’t learn anything and they suffer more in the long term, due to the fact that what they miss out on is more damaging in the long run. There are aids available to come to your home, in which… Read more »

Sharon L.
03/25/2011 11:53 pm

Wainwright – YOu need to immediately request a speech and language assessment if you have already done a full multifactored evaluation. If not request a full multifactored evaluation. ( It will include speech and language). Put your request in writing and within 5 days if you have not heard from them request that you sign there assessment request document because they are not obligated to do the test in 60 days until their paperwork is signed. After they are done request a DRAFT copy of the results which you should take to a professional to help you decipher… Read more »

03/24/2011 2:53 pm

My son, whom we adopted fifteen months ago from Ukraine struggled with speech articulation even in his native tongue. Now that he is learning English, its understandable that he also struggles with speech articulation still. The school has been very difficult to work with because they want to use the fact that he has an accent to not provide services. He also has lyme disease and JRA and PTSD But I’d have to say his confidence takes a hitting when people can’t understand him because he can’t pronounce sounds with “th” “s” or “l” and… Read more »

Sharon L.
02/06/2011 8:33 pm

Kellie – First of all an IEP and a 504 can co-exist side by side. Don’t worry about their deadline for the signature of the IEP. That is a scare tactic. Don’t sign anything until you are sure or you will have a greater difficulty getting the services back. It sounds to me like all of the accommodations/modifications could be put on one IEP and then there may be no need for the 504. You could also look into the OHI (Other health impaired IEP) as a solution for all of this. Contact your… Read more »

02/03/2011 4:23 pm

My son has been with a 504 for one and a half years. This was for his Dygraphia and suspected Dyslexia. Now all of a sudden the school has found him eligible for IEP in the area of Math. They are stating that they will NOT give him the accomodations that he is currently getting with his 504 including the Assistive Technology and use of Laptop for Wrting. They are stating that once we sign an IEP Document that the 504 will be dissolved.
I believe this to be a set up to fail! He needs assistive… Read more »

12/21/2010 11:15 am

My son has an IEP for articulation (he has trouble saying his “s, th and r “sounds). He also needs some accommodations to address his behavior (that is definitely NOT related to his articulation). Can those accommdations be added to his IEP even though it’s not related to his disability? If not, can he have a 504 too?

Thanks for any help with our situation!!!!!!

10/25/2010 11:12 pm

I’m still confused! my son had an IEP the high school he attended switched him to the 504 plan, but now he’s failing all classes and struggling in school, he’s asthmatic and attention deficit, also has sleep apnea. what do i do? recently the school met for the annual meeting, i received a one page of the 504 without any explanation as to what they would be doing for him…is this right? all of my suggestions were not documented as if I’m not a parent involved..which I am …please advise

10/12/2010 4:40 pm

Hi my son is seven years old and we found out the had ADHD and a speech impairment at six. He attended public school last year and was having a lot of problems with sitting and learning. His doctor sent three conners reports to evaluate his progress and at almost the end of the school year I received a conference letter to tell me he had learning issues. His doctor and I both requested an IEP. He was already receiving chapter one help so they new he had some kind of learning troubles. But still denied him a IEP. … Read more »

08/02/2010 6:02 pm

If my son has IEP for speech and the school never put specific info in about what could be life threatning food allergies, asthma or his sensory, can they just pretend that those do not exist? He has Dr. docs from specialist and pediatrician explaining his chronic illness and all treatment. Submitted OHI request from Dr. but, school said that OHI is committee decision and he doesn’t need another label. He missed too many days with asthma last year and was given 24 hours of detention time. He was not behind and a good boy. Kindergarten detention? Dr.s notes didn’t… Read more »

07/15/2010 10:08 am

I and my son’s doctor request to have my son evaluated. He was diaqnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and he’s been struggling ever since that’s what the school’s meeting has determined. Yet they denied my child for testing saying he’s fine. He also has a speech impairment, it’s hard to understand him at times. They want to leave him back saying that he is too far behind and that it will be harder for him in 2nd grade. What should I do from this point? I like the other lady on this site who his lit a fire… Read more »

05/17/2010 2:11 pm

My daughter attends catholic school, she suffers from severe migraine. I would like for her to benefit from the 504 for final exams as well as the regents.However the school is giving me a hard time. How can I address this issue with out creating any conflict .My daughter will be graduating next year, i don’t want the school to give her a hard time. Please help me.

04/13/2010 4:26 pm

I would like to know if students with a 504 plan can be sent home if they continue to make poor choices and and disobey the established routines in the classroom?

03/17/2010 8:55 pm

My son, 16, 10th grade. On 504 for DX of ADHD since 2nd grade same school district. Currently off meds. School didn’t do paperwork for 504 now signed him off. The reason he doesnt qualify because “he has a good GPA”. We his parents and my son work very hard daily to keep him organized, staying on task. Teachers had been making accommodations never listed on 504. His grades now are failing in two subjects since they signed him off and 2 C-. Where do we go from here. Asked for an… Read more »

03/12/2010 9:23 am

Can a child who has a current 504 plan be referred to the Child Study committee if it is felt that the plan is not working? What if the child is suspected of having a learning disability in addition to having the current 504 plan?

03/03/2010 3:12 pm

I have a grandson 14 yrs old with a disability. He has a TSS worker and a behavior specialist, but has lots of problems in school. He was accused of spraying mace in another students face, no one saw him do it or saw him with mace. He wasn’t even in the classroom at the time it happened. He and another student walked up at the time the child was standing in the doorway rubbing his eyes and they asked him what was wrong ? He said he could not see. The teacher told my grandson and the… Read more »

02/25/2010 7:08 pm

My 6 year old son has ADHD and major impulsive issues, DR recommended IEP be put in place. I have also, school giving me ring around saying doesnt qualify because he is not “behind”. If he is a distraction to himself and others, how can he not be behind? Everyone else I have talked to said that he can qualify for IEP. I am contemplating going to School board. I will fight to get my child best education possible. It is not his fault that he is a little imbalanced. Why be treated as it is his fault? Of course… Read more »

02/07/2010 3:58 pm

I am interested in your post as my 14 year old son has been recently diagnosed with bipolar depression I have requested a Special Ed Evaluation including an emotional disturbance evaluation. Prior to high school he had been an honor student.
He started having difficulty with Academics this year…especially math.
Bipolar does interfere with quality of life ….concentrating, organization, ability to sleep, awaken, etc. Request in writing for an evaluation for learning disabilities and emotional disturbance. Do NOT let them tell you can’t test….document everything! Dates and who said what!

02/07/2010 3:49 am

I have an 11-year old son in 5th grade. The psychiatrist has diagnosed him with an anxiety/mood disorder. His counselor has stated he has an Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as the anxiety/mood disorder. He is high functioning in academics, but not socially. The school says he does not qualify for an IEP or 504 because his disorder doesn’t effect his academics. We have an informal behavior plan for him in effect, but it isn’t a 504 or IEP, which means next school year I will have to go through the same things with his… Read more »

01/30/2010 5:20 pm

Where do accomodations such as assistance in the hallways, use of elevator, extra time for tests, use of computer instead of writing, etc. go on an IEP form? They are not student goals,and they are not all classroom modifications. I am confused as to where issues pertaining to physical conditions as opposed to academic concerns fit on an IEP.