Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IEP and 504 - What Parents Ask

Your blogger presented a webinar earlier today for ADDitude Magazine, for which she writes the "Your Legal Rights" column.  The topic was "IEP vs. 504 Plans: Which Does Your ADHD/LD Child Need and How to Go About Getting It." Hundreds of parents listened in and many of them had questions, some of which are no doubt shared by most parents who deal with these two laws. There is a link to hear the complete webinar but in the meantime, some of the most common questions -- and their answers -- were:

Can a student have both a 504 Plan and an IEP at the same time?
No. Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) specifically states that having an IEP (an Individualized Education Program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- IDEA) satisfies the requirements of Section 504. So, if a student would qualify for services under both laws, the student should get an IEP.

Which law would apply to a student with ADHD? 
It depends on the extent to which the student requires special education or related services because of his ADHD. If the student's attention problem is so significant that it seriously impacted his ability to learn, or if the student also has a specific learning disability, he would qualify for an IEP under the category of Other Health Impaired or Specific Learning Disability. [IDEA requires that a student fall within one of ten categories of disability in order to receive services.] If the student has ADHD but the impact is less significant and doesn't rise to the level of his needing special education services because of it, he would generally not qualify for an IEP but would be eligible to receive services under Section 504.

How do I start the process of getting my child an IEP or a 504 Plan?
First, parents should have met with their child's teacher and discussed how things are going in school. Once they have done so, if they believe that their child needs a 504 Plan they should make a written request to their school's 504 Team. Most schools have specific forms for this and you can obtain them from the school office or even the school website. Complete the form, along with any documentation you may have, and submit it to the 504 Team. You may be invited to their meeting, but the law does not require this and the procedure varies from place to place. The 504 Team will decide if more information is needed (and any evaluations they require will be at school expense) and will decide upon a plan for your child. 

To begin the IEP process, parents need to advise the school -- the guidance office or principal is generally the point of contact -- that they believe that their child requires special education services and sign a consent for their child to be evaluated. The evaluation process must be completed within 60 days of the consent and is followed by a meeting which includes the parents, to decide whether the student qualifies for IDEA services and to create the IEP, which must be in writing.

We have a written a number of blogs, linked below, which deal with some of these topics, including:

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