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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Nancy P
05/04/2017 9:57 pm

I am requesting a change out of special education so my child can return to his homeschool. He had an IEP. Can I request a 504 plan for his new school?

Megan D
04/20/2017 12:21 am

My daughter has an IEP and receives speech services. She has had her ADHD diagnosis for 7 yrs and takes multiple meds under the care of a neurologist. She is AP/Honors classes; however, has great difficulty with having enough time to finish tests. Is a student, with doctors documentation, eligible for a an accommodation of extended test time under an IEP with ADHD as an OHI, or under a 504? Or, can a student have speech services with an IEP and this accommodation in a 504? Would a student still be eligible for this accommodation with good grades in honors classes, yet needed extra test time? Please…help! Thank you!!

04/21/2017 12:41 pm
Reply to  Megan D

Yes, to all of your questions. Make a written request for services in special ed, or 504. Every district is to have a 504 coordinator. You may need to contact this person.

04/14/2017 5:41 pm

My daughter has an IEP w a diagnosis of APD given by the school in 2015. In 2016 she was diagnosed w a brain tumor & had brain surgery. Since her initial diagnosis she had a developemental pediatrician w an educational psychologist, neurologist, & neuropsychologist diagnose her w dyslexia. Also, the neuropsychologist diagnosed her w TBI w cognitive deficits & concerns. School is refusing 2 change her initial diagnosis of APD even though all outside testing done including an Audiologist who tested her & confirmed she doesn’t have APD. I have shared all testing, evaluation, & test results w the school. We pay for outside tutoring for her dyslexia. The school won’t even provide audio books, they want 2 put n IEP when available. What to do?

04/09/2017 7:06 pm

What if a child that has a 504 Plan for Occupational Therapy services has been found eligible for an IEP for ADHD. The child’s advocate did not request an OT Evaluation as part of the eligibility process. The School would like to order an OT Evaluation after the initial IEP has been created. My question is: can the school continue providing OT services according to the 504 plan while the OT Evaluation is being completed in order to determine if this related service should be added to the IEP?

03/24/2017 8:59 pm

It has been determined that my son will benefit more from an IEP than his 504. We have not had the IEP meeting yet, we only had the meeting that determined he is eligible for the IEP. One accommodation of his 504 plan is that he can listen to music. This infuriates the principal of his school as she does not agree with the accommodation. Today, he was told he can no longer listen to music because his 504 plan was “revoked.” Is this correct?! Remember, we have not yet met to wait the IEP.
Thank you.

03/25/2017 3:30 pm
Reply to  Gretchen

Hi Gretchen,
The school can rework a 504 plan without consent. You need to get the IEP ASAP. An IEP will give you more protection and rights as it is a contract with the school. Make sure that listening to music is one of the accommodations that is put on the IEP. I would even go as far as to put what type of music your son can listen to on the IEP. Once the IEP is in place the Principal will have to get over being infuriated by the one accommodation. I hope this helps you.

03/26/2017 7:12 am
Reply to  Marcus

Thank you Marcus.
Do you know what the law is regarding what can and cannot be in the IEP? In other words, can she refuse to include an accommodation?

03/26/2017 10:47 pm
Reply to  Gretchen

Hi Gretchen,

She cannot refuse an accommodation. If he needs music during the day than it has to go in his IEP. Can you get documentation from his doctor stating the reasons why he needs music during class? If you can get that maybe take a copy of it with you to the IEP meeting. Best of luck to you.

02/17/2017 7:53 pm

My son has a 504 for a head injury. An IEP was proposed. In it nothing speaks to the head injury, the existing 504. In edition the 504 accommodations are not written into the IEP.

If we were to agre and implement the proposed IEP would the 504 remain active?

02/16/2017 10:51 am

My daughter is 6 yrs old with epilepsy and its not the typical types of seizures some people have one or two types of seizures but my daughter has more then two and her brain is always seizing even when she shows no signs. Today when i took her to school they informed me that they are teaching her to walk alone and i asked them not to that someone needs to be by her they kept coming up with different things to say and showed no understanding. what can i do about this? Her case cordinator said to ask to put a 504 plan in.

02/17/2017 7:51 pm
Reply to  Tiffany

Does your daughter have a 504?

12/07/2016 5:33 pm

Does my child need to have a 504 plan in place before a 504 plan can be implemented?

Asperger Mom
10/28/2016 1:09 am

The District insists it is illegal to put the accommodations into the IEP for Gifted testing as it is “outside the educational program.” I have friends with a 504 who have the accommodation I want. Getting a 504 might be easier than fighting the district.

09/20/2016 12:13 pm

My son has devp delays and speech issues but he is improving alot doing homework. He just needs some extra attention. He does not have autism, but he walks on tip toes. School neuro diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. I believe when he goes to other neuro this will be ruled out, as his pediatrician says it does not look like palsy. He got an IEP this month but I’m still worried that he may get used to slow study pace. He is definitely getting more attention with speech and OT, but still I want to know about 504 plan. Can anyone help? School social worker convincing me to wait for this marking period then I can put him in regular kinder class. Can he get 504 in regular class? He wears foot braces in school but in home I keep him non-tip toes, he listens me and walks ok.

07/01/2016 11:39 pm

my daughter has an iep but she needs a safety para in school but the doe has denied our request. is this covered under a 504 plan

04/28/2016 12:30 pm

My son has bilateral cochlear implants. He is a straight A second grader. He has an IEP the state is about to make him lose his hearing impaired ruling because he is doing well in school. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening?

08/23/2016 10:36 pm
Reply to  Troy

Your child would qualify for a 504 because mitigating measures, i.e.:cochlear implants, cannot be taken into consideration.

04/22/2016 9:40 am

I have a student with autism who qualifies for special education in the areas of language and math but not reading. Because of his disability he has trouble focusing, following directions, and finishing work. He is in a high stakes state testing grade and receives no modifications on his reading test. After all, he did not meet the criteria of a learning disability in reading.

Obviously, his autism disability makes testing difficult, but because he has an IEP for math and language, I’m told he cannot have a 504 to make accommodations to meet his needs on his reading test.

In this type of situation, it seems to hurt the child not to have both in place.

08/23/2016 10:38 pm
Reply to  Kathleen

Any accommodations that would be written in a 504 can be added to the IEP. Office of Civil Rights says both documents are unnecessary.

04/13/2016 12:57 pm

My child has been in special education for speech only needs for 5 years. Last year he was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. Where should his Celiac needs be documented since they are not Speech related? 504 or IEP and if the IEP what part of the IEP?

08/23/2016 10:39 pm
Reply to  Erin

The school can add it to the section of the IEP that addresses accommodations and special considerations.

08/08/2015 3:06 pm

My daughter has abdominal migraine which caused her to miss many days of school in pior school years she was tested for an IEP in 2014 her scores qualify her but her attendance disqualified her she has ADHD and was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. she has a chronic illness form a 504 and diabetes management plan but they will not give her an IEP. she missed so many days last year in and out of the ER then she couldn’t come back because they didn’t have a nurse for 2 weeks and all absences were excused by her doctors. they refuse to retest her even though she is taking many medications to prevent her illnesses they say I have to wait 6 months with perfect attendance

10/26/2016 2:38 pm
Reply to  Rachelle

The law does not allow for a student to enter special education because of attendance. However, they should be offering homebound services if your daughter is out more than 10 days and has a documented illness. They also should have convene an attendance committee to discuss their plan for getting her caught up (accommodations, Title 1 services) and 504 would kick in here.

01/09/2017 12:48 pm
Reply to  Rachelle

That’s bizarre. If her attendance is being impacted by a health condition, and said health condition is the reason she is out of school, thus impacting her educational performance; she should be considered for an IEP. The health condition is having an adverse impact on her educational performance, thus the Other Health Impairment category should be considered.

07/29/2015 7:35 pm

my son is 7 going into second grade in Texas they said hes too young to get speech therapy and we have to requalify. Is this true

10/26/2016 2:40 pm
Reply to  ashley

No. Age has nothing to do with it (severity of delay/disorder does). However, if his speech errors are typical errors that a child his age would make – he may not qualify unless he still has them at an age when most students would have grown out of them.

03/23/2015 12:56 pm

My son is in the end of his eighth grade year. He is ADHD. Is it typical for a school to recommend an IEP now, so late in his education. They say they’ve done more than a 504 Plan for him the last year and a half. Is that something I should have been notified about? They also say in some of his classes he is only at a third grade level. Is this something that should have been recognized long before the eighth grade? He goes to school of choice and they don’t get funds for him because we live in a different ISD. Should I sign this IEP or get a second opinion? I feel like they are just trying to get rid of him.

04/24/2015 2:01 pm
Reply to  amber

Amber you can ask for an Advocate to walk you through some good questions to be asking OR come with you to the meetings with teachers so they can help you with concerns. I have never needed an Advocate but hear it can be very helpful to the patent. The school often doesn’t look forward to Advocates because they know they are well versed in these matters! Good luck!!

05/13/2015 3:45 pm
Reply to  amber

You need to make sure that the services they are proposing can close his achievement gap. Have you seen his special education evaluation? A 5 year gap would suggest intensive remediation. I would take this evaluation to a private psychologist before you sign.

04/22/2016 9:50 am
Reply to  amber

We need to remember that special education is actually very expensive for a school district. No district gives a child an IEP because, “they are trying to get rid of him.”

03/22/2015 9:06 am

My grandson has an 504 Plan. He is ADHD and bipolar. His has two long terms substitutes who has high school education in core subjects. They are not following his 504 and giving him zeros. I was informed when I complained that The Special Education Director said, “give zeros and they can fail”. I need help, he is successful when his plan is followed. He was passing before his certified teachers left. Because his plan is not followed he often gets in trouble. His psychiatrist wrote a letter to the school but nothing changed. Where do I go for help?

05/13/2015 3:42 pm
Reply to  Hattie

You need to call the Office for Civil Rights in your state. Not following 504 plans is discrimination and you can make a complaint online. Make sure that you have a paper trail, emails etc so that you can prove he is not getting his accommodations

10/26/2016 2:45 pm
Reply to  Hattie

Who told you the director said this? I would ask for a 504 meeting to discuss your concerns. They cannot deny you an in person meeting if you put it in writing. The director may not even be the person in charge of 504 in your district. They also have a responsibility to convene a meeting if your child is not successful in his current plan. I have had issues with this myself.

03/09/2015 12:41 pm

My daughter has a 504 plan in place at the school she attends, however there are schools that are closer to our home but are out of the district. Can she go to a school out of our district?

02/26/2015 8:09 am

My son has an iep at his school in Indiana i was told a dr. Had to diagnose him for him to keep his iep that the school would not do that. I had to go to psychiatrist and pay for that through Medicaid. shouldn’t the school have done that? And how do I get his school to do assessments and get a positive behavior plan set up? he is still failing 5 out of 7 classes and the social worker tells me, well, “that’s natural consequences!” I find failing not acceptable. when I am doing my part they should do theirs and have a plan. if homework needs to be done, I also need to know what homework there is. my son will ALWAYS say he has no homework.

12/16/2014 12:12 am

My son’s high school is insisting that he switch from an IEP to a 504 because he is receiving only accommodations (use of a computer for dysgraphia, time and a half on tests, etc.) but no services. His IEP mandates OT services for dysgraphia, but a previous OT as well as a reevaluation determined that OT to improve his handwriting at age 14 was pointless because he would never be able to write quickly enough as well as legibly enough to take notes in class, write essays, take tests, etc. He has typed everything since 6th grade. I don’t trust the school because they have already refused several requested reasonable accommodations that were not explicitly spelled out in his IEP. Can he keep his IEP without receiving services? The school says he can’t and must switch to a 504 to get accommodations without services. Is this correct?

11/21/2014 6:33 pm

If a parent isn’t aware of the 504 plan, yet their kids have chronic health conditions that the school was aware of. Should the school tell the parents about the 504 plan?

11/20/2014 11:13 am

I am divorced and would like a 504 plan for my daughter, does her father have to approve of a 504?

10/10/2014 9:38 am

In the article above you state “The IEP is required to address ALL of a child’s needs that are related to the disability”. If the issue in the 504 plan is NOT related to the learning disability is the IEP still going to address it? They seem like separate issues.

10/06/2014 4:18 pm

I have a friend whose daughter broke both arms over the weekend on a moped like motorized bike.

She can’t write with her writing hand for about 3 months, does that qualify her for a 504 in school?

She also can’t do basic things as feed her self, dress herself, etc.

Thank You, Barb

09/09/2014 1:59 pm

I have a 14 year old son in 7th grade with IEP. Is the school and teachers required to follow accommodations for all subjects even BAND?? My son has ADHD, ODD, and Autism-Aspergers. He is failing band because he forgot to turn in assignments and received zero. Teacher told me that he gives all student reminders to turn in assignment on Friday. Dustin is not like all students. You can tell him to do something and a second late he has already forgot what you told him. What does the IEP laws allow with accommodations for all subjects? What is the school required to follow?

04/21/2014 8:43 am

Veronica, You are in a tough spot. I have always felt that teachers and their SLD kids are treated very differently by the district/staff when trying to get their child help — not in a good way! If you can afford a good tutor then get one — don’t wait for the school. What an amazing mother you are to teach/work all day and then come home and teach your dyslexic son. Ultimately, having you in his corner is what will make all the difference. We have a local dyslexia help group that I joined and it was very helpful. They provided lots of advice about nurturing your child’s self-esteem. It helped my son to fully understand dyslexia, how it affects him, and know others (famous) have it, too. He didn’t then feel so alone — and he met kids in the help group which provided time for them to be mentored by an older dyslexic kid.

04/17/2014 5:08 pm

Do all my son’s teachers have to be at the 504/IEP meeting? Do all the therapies in the school district have to be there? His school district won’t give him a plan even though I have evidence from outside sources. He has multiple diagnoses. They keep bring up FAPE. I disagreed with them because his grades have gone down.

02/26/2014 11:26 pm

My son was just diagnosed with both a mood disorder NOS and a learning disorder NOS (slow processing speed and executive dysfunction) by an idependant neuropsychologist that I found due to his major behavioral and academic declines in past several months. I’ve asked school to do their own district neuropsych evaluation, in case they gave me a hard time accepting mine. They have gotten back to me suggesting implementing a section 504, while they perform any additional testing and a FBA so they can accommodate my son in the meantime. He has started medications as well from his psychiatrist/neurologist and there seems to be some improve my in school. I would like to stipulate not signing a 504 unless thry agreeing paper that IEP will be started once testing is complete. I’m unsure if I trust school at this point and want to ask you direction

01/28/2014 12:14 am

My son is 11 yrs. old and has tourettes/ADHD/OCD the school put him on a 504 plan that has just been destructible because 1 out of 4 teachers used it. While he had tourette tics it was easy to have him leave classroom as 504 said he could. When he didn’t have Tourettes they thought they weren’t educated on all 3 Neurological disorders, like all 3 being impulsive and intrusive on daily activity nor were hyperactivity, anxiety, no organization skills. Even though I supplied information and had many, many meetings 3 out of 4 teachers didn’t come to meetings. When curriculum suppose to be broken up, 2 teachers added MORE. No one followed 504 plan, 1 when felt like it. My son struggled and they failed him education. He is at home awaiting ” testing ” for an I E P and haven’t got to do homeschooling due to his school stating behavioral problems.

10/29/2013 8:17 pm

First, thanks for all the great resource, including your books and the articles on this web site. I have found them to be invaluable. My question: I understand that IDEA provides many substantive and procedural protections that are not provided by Section 504. However (and correct me if I’m wrong) isn’t is possible to go straight to a federal court to enforce a Section 504 violation? With IDEA you have to go to a state administrative proceeding first, and in the administrative hearing officers can be more “pro-school district” than what you’d see in federal court. If I’m correct about this distinction, wouldn’t that be a reason to have both a section 504 plan and an IEP, so you have a greater choice of remedies?

10/23/2013 9:36 pm

I’m desperate for help. I work in the education system and year after year I see students with learning disabilities fall through the cracks. There is no possible way that a regular education teacher can provide the one on one help most ESE students need. No matter what the IEP or 504 plan says. The system and label does very little for students. Well, my son is one of those students and it kills me to see his self esteem and academic frustration. I literally come home from school and reteach 70% of the skills taught to him in class all over again.The school system says that dyslexia is not a word used in Broward County. They don’t even test for it. Year after year they tell me he’s fine, but the work samples I have gathered throughout the years are alarming. I don’t know what to do. I know the system is ignoring my son’s needs and others

01/17/2017 2:50 pm
Reply to  Veronica

The Palm Beach County school system said the same thing to us. Dyslexia is not a word that can be said and they wont test for it. In our IEP meetings its the elephant in the room. He is getting help from teachers outside of the classroom and we see progress. The progress is not enough for him to pass the FSA this year. This will crush him and the teachers have said it will not help him to stay in 3rd grade. As most dyslexics are very smart, but struggle with the reading.Help! Can I petition the board to pass him to 4th grade? What are my rights?

10/16/2013 11:04 am

Can a child with 504 modification in Texas, be held back, if they do not pass the STARR test?

10/11/2013 9:24 pm

My 11 year old son struggles with th and l sound. In 2nd grade I asked for him to be assessed, nothing. In 3rd I asked again and the teacher hand delivered it to speech pathologist and again nothing. In 4th grade again I asked and his teacher finally got a new speech teacher to assess him and qualify him. Now in 5th grade the old speech teacher comes back and tells us out of the blue at his parent teacher conference which we had no idea she was attending that our son does not qualify for speech because the previous speech teacher messed up and didn’t do her job right by qualifying him ugh so frustrating. The new and returning teacher from the past told us his issues are cosmetic because he is now in 5th grade and this speech issue should of been assessed in his earlier years. Hello.we tried to have an assessment but both years nothing 🙁

10/10/2017 7:24 am
Reply to  sabrina

When my children were younger, I took them to a local speech therapy center and used my insurance for speech therapy in addition to the school. When I was a para, I asked a speech specialist why a certain kid in class was allowed to sound like “Mike Tyson” and not learn articulation, etc as I sat in on his speech session. I was told by several speech therapists that “If it does not interfere with need and articulation was not the goal as much.” I received several similar answers over the years as I questioned more and more when I was a para as I saw speech therapy sessions go nowhere. I also know that as a child gets older, speech therapy in school may have a different focus-not productive. Network with advocacy groups and find other resources, centers, answers, etc.

Nance B
08/18/2013 4:34 pm

Would a young child ( 8 yr old male) recently diagnosed with Tourette’s qualify for an IEP or 504 accommodation at school?

05/03/2013 10:40 pm

I heard Pete Wright told attendees at a Wrightslaw seminar recently that every student with an IEP should also get a 504 in their junior year because colleges only accept 504s. This seems to go counter to what is stated in the Wrightslaw books, that an IEP is all-encompassing and there is no reason to have both an IEP and a 504. Clarification?

04/07/2013 12:04 pm

When parents are divorced and have joint custody in everything. Can the school pick and choose which parent to invite to the meeting when both have equal and joint custody.

03/12/2013 2:29 pm

my child is 14 year old in 9th grade. he doesn’t have IEP but he has a 504 plan. He is ADHD. They won’t do an IEP. Can you help me please. The School District will not write an IEP, he tests out of IEP. IEP meeting in which he does not qualify for special ed. Can I get IEP done with a 504 plan?

03/06/2013 12:23 am

Does the 504 Plan and IEP apply to a child in a private school?,Thanks

03/05/2013 8:11 pm

My child was premie. He received gross motor services during 1-3 years. He was followed at Children’s hospital. Their OT evaluation determined that he was in normal range at age 3 and school district wanted to write an IEP for motor skills. When we questioned the difference in evals we were told by school that he was not in mood. We rejected their proposal for IEP. After that he was frequently hospitalized with pneumonia and fell behind in his studies. His teacher proposed a 504 plan and his doctor agreed for medical reason of frequent hospitalizations. They did evaluations in Children’s hospital that showed that he is in normal range for motor skills and needs help with handwriting and focusing. The school is now saying he is due for special educaton and they do not accept evaluation from Children’s and we do not trust school district.