Does My Child Need an IEP AND a 504 Plan?

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“Does my child need an IEP for speech therapy and tutoring and a 504 Plan for accommodations and academic interventions?”

No. Your child with a disability does not need an IEP for some needs and a 504 plan for others.  Having two plans is confusing, more work and is unnecessary.

If your child’s team doesn’t understand the legal requirements for educating children with disabilities, they may prepare both forms. If the team prepares two plans to meet one child’s needs, it’s far more more likely that someone will drop the ball.

A properly written IEP can meet all your child’s needs . . .If your child has a disability and an IEP, your child is automatically covered by Section 504. The IEP must address ALL the child’s needs that are related to the disability, including accommodations and modifications. When your child has an IEP, you and your child have many more rights and protections than a child who has a 504 plan.

Pat Howey, an Indiana advocate, describes the Key Differences Between Section 504 and IDEA. (

Summary of Rights Under Section 504, the ADA, and the IDEA by Pete Wright (

Wrightslaw Note: If you are confused about how to manage your child’s special education program during the last year of high school, we encourage you to read Persistent Myths About IEPs, 504s, College Admissions, and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities by Elizabeth Hamblet.

Elizabeth is an expert on transition and the author of From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities, a unique step-by-step guide for college-bound students, their families, and the special educators and school counselors who work with them.

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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. I took him out of school and decided to place him in virtual charter school and I’m noticing a lot of learning problems also. I am looking for a place to have a IEP. I’ll pay for it my self if it’s going help with my sons education so can someone help me on what can i do. thank you very much

02/21/2018 1:29 am
Reply to  Robin

It law that your school provides the iep for the student…call he school board and ask questions i had to write a prossional letter stating i wanted my son evaluated for an iep or 504 plan.. i was unaware of all the legal facts for 3 years until i called the school board and asked questions….keep calling until you get an answer to your wishes.

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 help,so he was having before and after school detention and they tried to make him do Sat. school. Can they punish him for being sick? IEP should have instruction on all of this right? They don’t have nurse an I feel they are being careless with my sons health and possibly his life

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 under me and nothing will stand in the way of my child getting the best education he can get! Thanks for your responses in advance.

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 appeal, nothing has happened in over 1 month from my meeting asking for an appeal.

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 other student to take him to the nurse. They met a TSS worker on the way to the nurse and the student told her that he didn’t know who did it because he couldnt see. She sent them back to class. When they got back to the classroom someone blamed it on my grandson. Now they are trying to put him in alternative education. Help!

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 I dont want him labeled in a bad way. But I want a concrete plan written out that the school needs to follow to help him better himself and so he can get through school and have friends, not be the kid with behavior problems that never got worked out.

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 new teachers. .

I also have a 9-year old with bipolar disorder as well as ADD. Again, I am told he doesn’t qualify for an IEP or 504. He is on medication and his moods have finally straightened out. Before the meds he had problems related to his manic and depressive moods and he was suspended for a week. Help!

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.

01/07/2010 6:21 pm

My Child currently has an IEP but they want to change it to an ISP because he attends religious school. What is this and will it affect his services.

01/01/2010 3:01 am

My 7 year old son is disabled. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, Bipoloar Disorder, ODD, and Developmental Delays. His teacher’s response is “he’s very smart” but he has behavior “issues.” The school punishes him for behavior problems – but we are not notified nor do they provide us documentation when an incident occurs. He has a 504 plan, but we do not believe that he is receiving the services/accommodations that he needs. We have requested – on more than one occasion during the 504 meetings – that he have an IEP. The school has informed us that “he does not qualify for an IEP,” and they are unwilling to provide an “explanation” as to why he doesn’t qualify. Can someone please explain to me the distinguishing “criteria” that would allow a disabled child to “qualify” for a 504 plan but not qualify for an IEP? Thanks for your help!

11/14/2009 2:49 pm

From 1David:
“You can request a change in placement from a 504 to an IEP in writing.”
I am a school psychologist. One can request a special education EVALUATION in writing. An IEP is the service plan that follows if a student qualifies for IDEA (special education).

For lori

If your son qualifies, then an IEP is written for his needs. Pending completion of that eval., Lori, your son has the same protections as a student in special education.

BOTH 504 and Special Education law have protections which include, as David said, a functional behavior assessment to determine why he behaves that way (function).

And before a school district can place a child or expell him a manifestation determination must be conducted. This MD is to determine whether his disability “manifests” itself in his behavior.
Since I don’t know his disability, I’ll assume it is ADHD. This disorder may manifest itself in his misbehavior, that is, his conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, his disability of ADHD. Make sure your school does a MD on his misbehavior.

So sorry this is late. Good luck with your son.

11/06/2009 2:52 pm

One more note on these “free” public services. You know what happens when something is offered for “free”? Everyone wants them. What happens when everyone wants them? Triage.

11/06/2009 2:49 pm

Schools are reimbursed 0% for services provided through a 504. Whereas schools receive up to 21% reimbursment for services provided through an IEP. In my state, directed services, such as OT, PT and ST are billiable for Medical and funds can be generated that way. Believe me, the professionals who work providing a direct service (I am one of them) have VERY large caseloads and are not looking to “pad” for funding. I have never heard of an SLP pad their caseload for funds.

10/06/2009 1:37 pm


As far as I know the schools do not get extra funding if your child has an IEP or a 504 and is still in a regular classroom setting.

A friend told me years ago that my son needed a 504 but my husband and our doctor were against it. My husband did not want our son labeled. My very smart child was struggling with school because with ADD and being on medication he still gets distracted. Without the 504 the teachers were not helping him stay on task.

In middle school he was put on a 504 and things got much better. My husband thinks it is wonderful. Our son is a senior in high school and with his medication, the 504, and his dad checking regularly on his grades and assignments and e-mailing teachers he has A’s and B’s in all of his classes except English.

With the 504 teachers must let us know if there is a problem

10/06/2009 1:10 pm

athletics covered by 504?

My autistic son has been able to fully participate in cross country in middle school because his father was able to arrange his work schedule to be an assistant coach and make it possible. However, in high school next year, his father won’t be able to accommodate the high school practice and meet schedule. Is there any way to get him the assistance he needs to fully participate? The main issues are changing clothes, safely running on the streets, and understanding directions.

09/22/2009 9:05 pm

My ex-wife and I are going through a divorce. My son has a temporary adjustment disorder according to his third party psychologist. His public school has approached me after only 3 weeks of school and says he needs a 504 and an IEP screening. I have nothing against special needs or disabled children, but I feel he is experiencing what I experienced as a child. I do not want him labeled and do not believe he needs IEP or 504. The school is now going to my ex-wife and getting her consent because we have 50/50 custody. I have said I do not want him screened. I believe all this is is for funding. My son does not need this, it seems like you are all fighting for the programs and the schools won’t give it to you. What do I do? What rights do I have?

08/24/2009 5:30 pm

I am so confused about everyhting IEP 504 and the disability act.
My 7 year old son who is a type one diabetic and twin he is struggling with reading he is a social child gets along great with others and is respectful. His only problem is reading. They have approached me and said I think that he needs to go back to first grade. That he is immature. I don’t feel that he is any more immature that my daughter who keeps up just fine. We put him in a summer reading program at a university and they helped a little. He just does not get it. He needs more one on one help or a smaller setting to understand. I have asked for IEP and they blow me off and say that another year in 1st grade will do the trick but i don’t ! what do I need to do next PLEASE HELP I am desperate. He is a twin and I can’t seperate the 2 he will feel even more dumb.

07/29/2009 12:39 pm

Is it legal to have both an IEP and the 504 plan. Doctor is stating that it would be harmful to the child’s health to change schools (due to move of home address). Also stated that the 504 plan would require the school to provide transportation to the previous school. The school district is stating that the child may attend the previous school, but the parent must provide the transportation due to that fact that the child is not attending the school of assignment. The child has an IEP currently. The child’s teacher is also stating that the child should remain in the same school.

07/20/2009 6:10 am

My son is a senior in high school. He has an IEP. He would qualify for 504 since he is wheelchair bound. His medical needs places him in sped. Should he have a 504 plan put into place since he will be attending college next year?

07/06/2009 11:19 am

Is it legal to have a child on a 504 and IEP at the same time??

05/14/2009 8:41 am

What if the child has two separate disabilities, each associated with different needs? I am thinking of a child who has both a fluency disorder of speech, and a chromosomal abnormality. He has an IEP for speech and language services to address his dysfluency. The speech therapist has said that he does not require any accommodations in the classroom due to the speech disorder. His chromosomal condition causes minor impairments in concentration and motor skills, resulting in him taking a long time to complete tasks. He does not require special education to address these needs, but he needs extra time to be able to show what he knows. It seems to me that a 504 plan would be appropriate to address these needs, but I was told that a student could not have both a 504 and an IEP, even if the disabilities are unrelated. Any thoughts?

04/14/2009 5:49 am

It was helpful to learn that an IEP covers everything–no need for a 504. I have filed due process regarding my 15 year old Deaf son, Luke’s, failure to make gains in reading (9th grade reads on 4.5 level), no speech services provided 08-09 school year although 60 minutes written in IEP, no testing to determine gains in reading (“no such services exist”), no extended school year for reading or speech(“no documented proof that he regresses”), no measurable goals and objectives in IEP, no ASL as foreign language for peer interaction, social development and direct communication opportunities. I need examples of measurable IEP goals, proof of importance of ASL for interaction and social development, source of reading testing specific for Deaf children, credible witness for each area. Can you help me. Court date very soon.

02/25/2009 2:41 am

I have a son who is diagnosed Sensory Integration Dysfunction. When he was younger the schools teachers naturally accomodated him. He is 10 and beginning last year in 4th grade the accomodations increased and in the 5th grade year, the teacher was never told about the accomodations so he struggled alot in the first trimester until the accomodations we reintroduced and more added. As a result, we asked for a 504 to assure this doesnt happen again. Becuase my son is very bright, GATE, and receiveing accomodations, the school says he doesnt meet the requirements but without the accomodations, he does but they can go back and consider it that way. He goes off to middle school next year. we cant loose the first trimester of every school year because there is no 504. Any recommendations?

12/31/2008 1:49 pm

If your son does not NEED special education than he should be able to get the appropriate accomodations through 504 or an SST. You can still have meetings with a 504 committee if adjustments need to be made. If he can make it in gen ed with accommodations, he will be better in the long run. You just need to make sure that you remain involved. Ask to meet with or have a phone cenference with the 504 coordinator, so you have better information. Reality is there can be teacher consulatation for interventions in gen ed… just not direct services (SI, AT, OT…)

12/31/2008 1:44 pm

Lori M:
Make a request for a full psycho-educational evaluation that includes an LSSP. You may need more emotional/behavioral information to substantiate needs. Going to a doctor at this point may only be a helpful. The school needs specific data for eligibility failing grades may be a cause or an effect of behavior issues. You all need to be on the same page.

12/28/2008 10:20 am


The fact that your son is failing and getting suspended is enough to justify the school doing an FBA (Formal Behavior Analysis).

You can request a change in placement from a 504 to an IEP in writing. Suspension and expulsion are actually a change in placement but offer no educational benefit to your son.

Excluding your son from educational services does not seem to be addressing the very behaviors that are getting him in trouble.
How is the private setting working for your other son?
You are experiencing the difference between 504 and IEP in education.

Good Luck!

12/23/2008 9:38 am

I have twin boys one has an iep and the other has a 504. The one with the iep the school has managed to get rid of him from shcool although they are paying to send him to a private much smaller setting. the one with a 504 is allways being suspended and they never give me any proof of what they say he has done. Now they are talking expullsion I need help. He is failing all of his classes and I have requested several times for him to be retested and they refuse saying not until I take him to the doctors to see if has add or adhd. PLEASE HELP he is only 15

12/15/2008 3:18 pm


My son’s teacher has suggested ending his IEP because he is only receiving consultative services and doing well. I prefer that he keep it because you never know what the future brings. Can the IEP be removed if he doesn’t go to resource?

12/13/2008 4:59 pm

Kevin, This is a very valuable resource. Thought you might want to check it out.

12/12/2008 10:29 pm

I agree that this makes no sense. It is double work. Parents do need to understand that eligiblity for sp ed is defined by the states interpretation where as 504 is federal, there is some interpretation but sp ed has specific legal requirements.One is not better than another (504 is recognized by college tho). I think it also needs to be made clear that outside evaluations must be considered but do not create eligibility. One parent had a child that had a 3 hr eval in a dr’s office (actually done by an assessment specialist paid by them and he signed it even though he was the nueropsych) and it is very different from the one completed by the school. Why? Because the school evaluator took breaks and broke it up over 2 days. Cost $3k for a third party. The school cost nothing;the parents thought it was a better picture. Go figure.

David 1
12/04/2008 9:26 pm


I would never assume that all schools operate the way that our son’s school has.

There is an interesting study in this site below that represents the opinion of numerous schools.

Parents that are educated about their child’s rights and educational needs will be able to recognize if they have the luck of the draw and have landed in a school environment that will allow their child to make measurable educaitonal progress.

If more schools practiced compliance of IDEA, most of us would have never heard of Pam or Pete Wright.

12/03/2008 4:23 pm

Thank you very much. I just refuse for my son to slip through the cracks because he is high functioning and that seems to me to be the reason for this. I am learning and strive to learn more to help my son and maybe in the future others. Again thank you and I have now become the biggest book worm devouring anything I can get my hands on. Someone stated,” Parents are the biggest advocates for their children!” how true that statement is and beleive when I say they lit a fire under this mother one- they might regret!!!!

12/03/2008 4:07 pm

You have obviously had lots of bad experiences. The comments that you make in the first 3 paragraphs do occur, but to say that this is true of all schools is not correct.

12/01/2008 9:36 pm

Parents who assume that your child’s school has your child’s best interest in mind, do not understand the negotiation process that they are in.

Schools are budget driven and staff will be coached to say what they need to say to keep cost at a minimum.

Regardless of diagnosis, staff will have you believe that an IEP and 504 are one and the same. Our school did the ASDS to measure the likelihood of Autism for my son. It was off the chart.

The “structured” environment that they offered was an E.D. placement in an alternative class. (portable that is fenced and locked gate).

They do not consider this to have been a punishment for having a disability.

Learn your child’s rights and Exercise them……

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