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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01/11/2013 6:49 pm

My son is 7 yrs old and in the 2nd grade. He receives Speech and APE at his school. I had an IEP meeting today with his speech, APE and regular teachers. I requested a 504 plan for my son because he has a speech impairment and needs some extra help at school. His speech teacher told me at the IEP meeting that my son cannot receive the 504 plan because he receives Speech at school. Is this true? If not, what do I need to do next to see about my son getting the 504 plan?

01/08/2013 11:09 pm

I did not go through my school for diagnosis, per a reccomendation from a friend who writes up 504s. I went through my own doctor. I took my child to a respected ADHD clinic who did disgnosed him. In the final report they reccomended a 504 and even gave an example. I took it to the school, and by law, with the evaluation from the center, they had to provide my 504. It was much easier a process than going throught the red tape of the school. It has been three years since his diagnosis and I am always in constant contact with his teachers. I meet once a year to tweak the 504 according to any needs that may arise, ex, he started state testing last year and needed some modifications. However, by law, you can tweak that 504 anytime during the year if needs arise. Bottom line, we are our kids personal warriors and advocates, educate yourself 🙂

Sharon L.
12/16/2012 5:11 pm

Did your son have a multifactored evaluation? I am assuming that some sort of testing took place in order for the team to evaluate whether he belonged in spec ed or not. You can write a letter to the school stating that you do not agree with the results of the test & would like an outside evaluation in which the school must pay for. The school must give you sources to get the test from but you do not have to use any of these sources. You can use your own psychologist/physician, etc. AFter you get the test results you may have more info to work with. We have done this 3 times with our sons & either kept them in spec ed or got them into spec ed. ON 504 the school does not have to put your son into spec ed at your request. The only way is through the testing,evaluation,legal system.

12/08/2012 6:34 pm

My son is in 6th grade he is really struggling in math barley passing with a D. He has a current 504 plan & i jus had an IEP meeting in which he does not qualify for a special ed math class. I am upset because he needs extra help in math or to be in a smaller class because he gets easly destracted. The school is telling me there is nothing they could do. My question is under his 504 plan does the school have to offer extra help or put him in special ed math class upon my request?

11/01/2012 4:32 pm

HI! My son is profoundly deaf in one ear and prior to kindergarten I worked with his school to develop a 504 plan. Then, half-way through his year in kindergarten, he developed a severe fluency disorder (stutter), and I worked with his school to write an IEP for speech therapy. At the time I asked if his hearing-loss accommodations could be added to his IEP, but the speech pathologist told me he would need to qualify separately for an IEP for his hearing impairment, and I would need to demonstrate that his hearing loss is negatively impacting his educational outcomes. So my question is slightly different from the original question. I want to consolidate everything onto his IEP, but the district is resisting. His disabilities are unrelated in their cause. Is the SLP right that he has to qualify separately?

09/14/2012 10:22 am

I have a son that has a IEP but I want him to have a 504 too. He was 3yrs oldand got burned on his arm and have to surgeries, we have to go to Galveston Tx for them. But the school is telling me he can not have a 504 with a IEP.

My son has been having problems with the SED teacher and he has her again this year. I have asked very day to move him, but they tell me that is the only teacher they have. I know that is wrong, they can put him in the mayflower class. They tell me that he can notgo in there because he does not have a behavior problem. But it is on his IEP that he does. Please help me….

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.

06/19/2012 11:57 am

i have a 6 year old son who has asthma and chronic environmental and food allergies. i am requesting an IEP within our school district. he attends a private school and i wonder how to find out if they receive federal funds? there’s no school lunch program but i know they have a speech therapist and other therapists come in to help some of the children with autism.

06/14/2012 10:24 pm

if a student is having trouble in math and qualifies for language does his math need have to go back to a SAT? What I am reading I see no, however I work with someone who is pushing this, also clarification graduation EXIT IEPS are required right?

06/03/2012 10:29 pm

I have a child categorized as LD for dysgraphia, who also is known to be diagnosed as ADHD. My school doesn’t want to make any accommodations for testing for the ADHD, because his IEP lists his disability as dysgraphia “and since the IEP is for dysgraphia, it cannot address the ADHD.” Should I try to get a 504 separately to address the ADHD, if I can get them to accommodate him at all? With the big SOL tests in the coming year, this issue needs to be resolved soon. 🙁

05/18/2012 10:05 am

My second grade son has a “speech and language” IEP. He has language processing deficits, but has done very well academically in second grade. Next year, for the first time, he will take the state standardized tests and the work will be much harder. I would like him to have extra time given processing issues. If he is performing well in school thus far, can I get him a 504 for extra time on timed tests given identified processing delay? Can it be included in the speech and language IEP (I thought not)? Thanks!

05/17/2012 6:55 pm

From what I understand IEP is legally protected under Federal level as in IDEA. Which is the Individuals with Disablities Educational Act. The 504 is run at the State level, under State laws. They say that with 504 they dont need parent approval like the IEP. I would not sign 504 if you really believe your child has a disablilty. Without IEP you are not protected with IDEA.

05/15/2012 12:30 pm

my daughter was was referred psychological re-evaluation by her iep team. my daughter is identified as IND intellectually disabled. it was noted that she is able to maintain satisfactory progress with in a regular education setting with grades c, based on the reevaluation data. at IEP meeting it was recommended for dismissal from exceptional student education. my daughter struggles with math, and needs more time to get her work done. they suggest i do the 504 program. what’s the difference between e.s.e. n 504. i was called and to complete the form 504 and also setting i.e.p. need answers. will 504 program help my daughter?

Sharon L.
04/29/2012 7:12 pm

Martha – A child can be on an IEP & 504 if needed. It sounds like they are trying to get him on 504 only. You were right to get an advocate & insist on the testing. Of course they are not happy. You know what you are doing. Once you get the test results be sure to go over it with your advocate or physician. IF you do not agree with the test results you can request an evaluation be done by an outside professional & and the school will need to pay for that & must consider the results. This will tell you where your child should be & you can all meet & do what is best for him.

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 and you can better add to the PPT discussions as they cannot argue with data, research and an informed parent. Collaboration and knowledge are powerful tools.

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 before. Since I hired an advocate, the school district is following IDEA–before, they pushed her along with no progress monitoring. My daughter showed the B and D reveersals in kindergarten.

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 can’t make proper sentences and struggles with big words. The school now wants to take him off of IEP and I know he has some type of learning disability. I hired a advocate and the school very upset. The school told me they were screening him and now say testing him. What should I do. I do homework with child everynite and he is writing “day” he spells “bay”
Please reply asap

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 – get a special education lawyer and don’t be afraid to file for due process to make them recognize your child’s needs and address the issues.

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 have to sign anything & if you disagree with the results you may get an outside evaluation & the school must pay for that evaluation. You do not have to give any reason for this other than you do not agree. The school must consider the results of this.

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?

10/07/2017 6:21 pm
Reply to  Jennifer

I would love an answer to this.

10/10/2017 1:01 pm
Reply to  Becca

First you need to ask for clarification from your supervisor or special ed administrator about your role, & their expectations for you. The federal rules address the student having access to the general ed curriculum, & preparing them for further education, employment, & independent living. You may have information that could assist the IEP team in achieving these goals. If a child is extremely anxious over their difficulty with the R sound, it may not be a good idea for the reading teacher to ask them to read out loud for the class. Stuttering can also cause issues that teachers need to be aware of.

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 someone who has dedicated all there time and energy to provide our son with the best education. What rights does our son have?

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 for 5 years 1 hour per day/5 days per week & provided transportation as well.

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 have to use one of these. If you have a professional that can help you find a tester that understands your daughter’s grammar issue that will be best. This could be a form of dyslexia. Once you get the test results of the outside testing the school has to consider it. You can then have a meeting to discuss.

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 to count on SAT but are a continuing issue for student.) Verbally student just won a local speech competition using memorization. Language on speech was outstanding, but grammar and spelling were pitiful. Testing shows no LD. School says some people are just poor spellers, so no IEP, just 504.

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 I have found that it is worth it & is less money & less adversarial than an attorney.

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 the Special Educational Coordinators desk for weeks at a time. We do not want to change the IEP to a 504 and it has been in place this same way for all these years. Why would they want to change it now???Can they change the IEP to a 504 if we say we don’t want it done????

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 to all of this. It can be overwhelming & it can be difficult to get the right supports for your son. I was very tired & overwhelmed when I was dealing with the schools for my 3 sons but now that they are grown up & out of school I am glad I did it because I truly believe that if they had not gotten the help when they were little, it would be much worse now.

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 has put a lot of stress in my life and i have no knowledge o what to do? Please explain

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 to step out on the limb for your child in that meeting. Unfortunately, that quality is rare due to fear of losing their job.

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 I found out to late, but the immigrants have them at thier beck and call,. My son is very smart and missed out due to the fact that all his special language classes took place during his english classes and to my dismay and constantly arguing he missed out, the school system he was in wanted to look good, how can a child score high and fail english.

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 it. When you have the results and meet with the team you and the team should decide what is best based on the results of the testing. If you do not agree with the results you may get an outside test at schools expense.

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 his little sister (whom we also adopted) can speak more clearly. Our son also has some major dental issues that we are in the process of getting worked on. He has a cross and under bite. We’ve had seven teeth removed since being home.

My question is this: should I be asking for an IEP or a 504?

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 state special ed department to ask questions and get forms on how to go about checking out these options. Ask the district to show you their WRITTEN policy on 504, OHI IEP and standard IEP. This may help to see what their written policies say versus what they are telling you.

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 technology and a laptop for his Dysgraphia, yet they will not recognize this on the IEP currently being developed. We have had 6 meetings so far and never any resolution. They now tell me that they must have a signed document in less than 10 days. Can they actually do this? How do schools get away with this?