If you are worried about your child and how they are doing in school it is your right as a parent to request accommodations. There are a couple options when it comes to your child getting services, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) & a 504. Both offer your child accommodations but are different in what they offer & how your child qualifies. If you feel like your child needs academic concerns addressed request a formal evaluation from the school. It is best to do this in writing. Request that your child be evaluated for special education services, explain briefly some of your concerns and let them know to contact you when the permission forms are ready for you to sign. If your child's needs are not academic but more behavioral, social or emotional you would also request an evaluation for a 504. Schools have no more than 45 school days to complete the process. If you are getting push back from your school contact the Utah Parent Center to request an advocate. Make the school aware that they will be attending the meeting as well.
504 - A blueprint or plan for how a child will have access to learning at school.
Provides services and changes to the learning environment to meet the needs of the child as adequately as other students.
As with IEPs, a 504 plan is provided at no cost to parents.
This is a federal civil rights law to stop discrimination against people with disabilities.
To get a 504 plan, there are two requirements:
- A child has any disability, which can include many learning or attention issues.
- The disability must interfere with the child’s ability to learn in a general education classroom. Section 504 has a broader definition of a disability than IDEA. (It says a disability must substantially limit one or more basic life activities, such as learning.) That’s why a child who doesn’t qualify for an IEP might still be able to get a 504 plan.
- Doesn’t allow parents to ask for an IEE. As with an IEP evaluation, parents can always pay for an outside evaluation themselves.
The rules about who’s on the 504 team are less specific than they are for an IEP. A 504 plan is created by a team of people who are familiar with the child and who understand the evaluation data and special services options. This might include:
- The child’s parent
- General and special education teachers
- The school principal
There is no standard 504 plan. Unlike an IEP, a 504 plan doesn’t have to be a written document. A 504 plan generally includes the following:
- Specific accommodations, supports or services for the child
- Names of who will provide each service
- Name of the person responsible for ensuring the plan is implemented
- The school must notify parents about evaluation or a “significant change” in placement. Notice doesn’t have to be in writing, but most schools do so anyway.
- A parent’s consent is required for the school district to evaluate a child.
- The rules vary by state. Generally, a 504 plan is reviewed each year and a reevaluation is done every three years or when needed.
- A blueprint or plan for a child’s special education experience at school.
Provides individualized special education and related services to meet the unique needs of the child.
These services are provided at no cost to parents.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
This is a federal special education law for children with disabilities.
To get an IEP, there are two requirements:
- A child has one or more of the 13 specific disabilities listed in IDEA. Learning and attention issues may qualify.
- The disability must affect the child’s educational performance and/or ability to learn and benefit from the general education curriculum, leading to the need for specialized instruction.
Parents can ask the school district to pay for an independent educational evaluation (IEE) by an outside expert. The district doesn’t have to agree.
Parents can always pay for an outside evaluation themselves, but the district may not give it much weight.
There are strict legal requirements about who participates. An IEP is created by an IEP team that must include:
- The child’s parent
- At least one of the child’s general education teachers
- At least one special education teacher
- School psychologist or other specialist who can interpret evaluation results
- A district representative with authority over special education services
- With a few exceptions, the entire team must be present for IEP meetings.
The IEP sets learning goals for a child and describes the services the school will give her. It’s a written document.Here are some of the most important things the IEP must include:
- The child’s present levels of academic and functional performance—how she is currently doing in school
- Annual education goals for the child and how the school will track her progress
- The services the child will get—this may include special education, related, supplementary and extended school year services
- The timing of services—when they start, how often they occur and how long they last
- Any accommodations—changes to the child’s learning environment
- Any modifications—changes to what the child is expected to learn or know
- How the child will participate in standardized tests
- How the child will be included in general education classes and school activities
When the school wants to change a child’s services or placement, it has to tell parents in writing before the change. This is called prior written notice. Notice is also required for any IEP meetings and evaluations. Parents also have “stay put” rights to keep services in place while there’s a dispute.
A parent must consent in writing for the school to evaluate a child. Parents must also consent in writing before the school can provide services in an IEP.
The IEP team must review the IEP at least once a year. The student must be reevaluated every three years to determine whether services are still needed.
Students receive these services at no charge. States receive additional funding for eligible students.