Are you in the dark?

Do you feel confused when trying to figure out the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan? You are not alone! Most families, and even therapists, are often confused about what is best for their student. Often school district's policies are slightly different making the situation even more confusing. Below is a quick chart to help you, as well as several links specific to South Carolina. Questions about homebound services? Links and information below to help get you on track. If you have more questions, contact your district office...someone there can help you.

  • Covers all school-aged children who fall within one or more specific categories of qualifying conditions (i.e., autism, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, emotional disturbance, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other health impairments).
  • Requires that a child's disability adversely affects her educational performance.
  • Requires that the child be fully and comprehensively evaluated by a multidisciplinary team.
  • Requires informed and written parental consent.
  • Requires a reevaluation of the child at least once every three years, or if conditions warrant a reevaluation, or if the child's parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.
  • Provides for independent evaluation at the district's expense if parents disagree with first evaluation.
  • Does not require reevaluation before a significant change in placement.
  • Appropriate" education means a program designed to provide "educational benefit" for a person with disabilities.
  • Placement may be any combination of special education and general education classrooms.
  • Provides related services, if required. Related services may include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling services, psychological services, social services, and transportation.
Section 504 Plan

  • Covers individuals who meet the definition of qualified "handicapped" person -- for example, a child who has or has had a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or is regarded as handicapped by others. (Major life activities include: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.)
  • Does not require that a child need special education to qualify.
  • Evaluation draws on information from a variety of sources and is documented.
  • Decisions about the child, evaluation data, and placement options are made by knowledgeable individuals. Such decisions do not require written consent of the parents, only that the parents are notified.
  • Requires "periodic" reevaluation.
  • No provisions made for independent evaluation at school's expense.
  • Requires reevaluation before a significant change in placement.
  • Does not require an IEP, but does require a plan.
  • "Appropriate" means an education comparable to the education provided to those students who are not disabled.
  • Placement is usually in a general education classroom. Children can receive specialized instruction, related services, or accommodations within the general education classroom.
  • Provides related services, if needed.
Still Unsure? Follow the links below for extra information.