What is the difference between an IEP and a 504?
Section 504 provides fewer benefits and protections than an IEP, but in some instances it is the only avenue for children to obtain accommodations from their school.
The IEP is authorized under the IDEA, and an IEP Plan must be in writing, and must be agreed upon by the school and the parents.
In contrast, Section 504 is authorized under the Rehabilitation Act, and there is no requirement for a written plan or parent agreement. Essentially, Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits organizations such as schools from discriminating against someone because of their disability.
This means that under 504, the school must accommodate students with disabilities, but the law only covers those with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit at least "one major life activity." Such activities include the ability to see, hear, walk, speak, read, write and perform self-care.
Section 504 provides for modifications and accommodations in testing, and it ensures that school facilities and events are accessible to all students, regardless of disability.
Because Section 504 is a federal civil rights law, it allows for aggrieved children to bring civil rights actions in Court (including both children with IEPs and those with 504 Plans).