Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Difference Between Section 504 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

FAPE: Free and Appropriate Public Education:
IDEA: "Appropriate Education" means a program designed to provide educational benefit from specially designed instruction and services.
Section 504: "Appropriate Education" means related aids and services to meet the educational needs as adequately as the needs of a non-504 student.

Areas Covered:
IDEA: Covers education
Section 504: Covers employment, public access to buildings, transportation, and education

IDEA: If determined that the student qualifies under on or more specific qualifying conditions and requires specially designed instruction to benefit from education.
Section 504: Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Major life activities include:walking, hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, learning, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
IDEA students are also covered under Section 504, but not all Section 504 students are eligible for services under IDEA.
IDEA: Covers infant to 22.
Section 504: Covers all people no matter what age.

Procedural Safeguards:
IDEA and Section 504: Requires notice to the parent/guardian with respect to identification, and/or placement and procedural protections.
IDEA: Requires written notice.
Section 504: Written notice is advised.

IDEA: A full comprehensive evaluation is required, assessing all areas related to the suspected or known disability. The student is evaluated by a multidisciplinary team.
Section 504: Evaluation draws from information for a variety of sources in the area of concern.
IDEA: Requires informed consent before an initial evaluation is conducted
Section 504: Does not require consent, only notice.
IDEA: Reevaluations to be conducted at least every 3 years
Section 504: Periodic reevaluations.
IDEA: Reevaluation is not required before a significant change in placement.
Section 504: Reevaluation is required before a significant change in placement occurs.

Placement Procedures:
IDEA and Section 504: When interpreting evaluation data and making placement decisions, requires the district to:
a. Draw upon information from a variety of sources.
b. All information is documented and considered.
c. Eligibility decision made by a group of persons, including those knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, placement options.
d. The student is educated with "typically developing" peers to the maximum extent appropriate

Due Process:
IDEA and Section 504: Require districts to provide impartial hearings for parent/guardian who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student.

IDEA: U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. Compliance monitored by the State Department of Education and the Office of Special Education Programs.
Section 504: U.S. Office of Civil Rights.

Information gathered from: MDUSD Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Procedural Handbook for Educators. LD Online Council for Exceptional Children Wrightslaw - Section 504 and IDEA.
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