Students with disabilities, who need additional assistance in school may be entitled to accommodations or modifications made to the general school curriculum to help the student be successful and more productive in the learning environment. These services are individualized to the student, created by a team that includes the school, the parent(s) and the student (if appropriate), and are at no cost to the parent(s). Some of these services may be encompassed in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan.
Individualized Education Programs (IEP)
Students with a qualifying disability, as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, may qualify for an IEP through their school. In order to determine if a student has an IDEA qualifying disability (including but not limited to: autism, blindness, deafness, intellectual disability, serious emotional disturbance, speech or language impairments and specific learning disabilities), a parent must consent to the student undergoing evaluations, the results of which would be presented to an IEP team, who would determine eligibility. Once an IEP is in place, the team will review the student’s performance, annual goals, any accommodations or modifications made to the school day which may include extra time to complete work, working in smaller groups, use of additional educational software (such as a reading program or calculator for math), how the student participates with non-disabled students, how the student participates in state-wide and district-wide tests, as well as any transition services (either to higher education or the workforce) for students ages fourteen (14) and up. The IEP plan is to be reviewed at least annually (every year) and the student should be re-evaluated triennially (every three years) to determine if the student is still eligible for IEP services.
Sometimes, students have disabilities but do not qualify for an IEP. These students may qualify for a 504 plan as defined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A student qualifies under this Act if 1) they have a physical or mental impairment that limits one of more major life activities (such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, or performing manual tasks), 2) there is record of the impairment and 3) they are regarded as having such an impairment. Some common 504 plans are put in place for students who have diabetes or need wheelchairs. These students need reasonable accommodations to the normal school day but do not need the intensive services that can be provided through an IEP.
Both an IEP and 504 Plan are meant to assist a student, who would generally struggle through a school day, without some modifications and accommodations made, succeed!
For more information on the IEP and 504 plans, please review the following resources:
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (for more information on 504 plans)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 20 U.S.C. §1414 (2016). (for more information on Individualized Education Programs)
If you would like further information or have questions or concerns regarding special education services for your child, schedule a consultation with Tiffany Young, Esq. To schedule a consultation, call our office at 240-309-4179.