Alabama’s schools provide multiple options to provide children with disabilities a better chance of learning the material in a safe environment. Most parents who have to sign up for these types of programs have heard of individualized education programs (IEPs), and those who do not qualify for it are worried how their kid will make it through with their condition.

Thankfully, there’s always the option of a 504 plan if getting an IEP doesn’t work out. The regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are designed to help handicapped students operate at school at a similar level as nonhandicapped students and prevent any discrimination from occurring on school grounds. Parents should know under which circumstances would this be the preferred option over an IEP.

The disability is more physical

An IEP and a 504 plan both involve helping children with disabilities that impacts their ability to learn. However, a 504 plan focuses more on helping kids function in a general classroom setting while an IEP helps more with children who struggle with learning the general education curriculum. If your kid struggles with walking or breathing, they have a decent chance of qualifying for a 504 plan, but not an IEP.

Your kid just needs accommodations

AN IEP takes several aspects of the child’s academic performance into account to create a program designed to improve their educational future by modifying how the material is taught to them in nearly all subjects. Children that need a 504 plan more or less just require specific accommodations to help them such as bringing something in the classroom that helps them breathe better or some extra time on a test. These students do not need these accommodations to enhance their academic performance. They need them to get on a level playing field with nonhandicapped students.

Even though 504 plans are far more accessible than IEPs for students with disabilities in Alabama, you can still get rejected if they believe nothing needs to change for your kid to help with their learning environment. If you believe otherwise, consider contacting an attorney with experience in special education to see if your child’s school made a mistake in the process.