Can anyone explain the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan? Is it just a public vs. private school difference or is there more to it? What are the legal ramifications for a student requiring a 504 plan?
An IEP and a 504 Plan are two divergent different documents and procedures. They are not the same.
A 504 Plan is derived from a civil rights legislatiion entitled the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended and an IEP is derived from PL 94-142 and later becoming IDEIA as amended.
It is not a public/ private issue. An IEP or 504 Plan may be applicable to a child enrolled into public or private entities.
A child with a disability that impairs or prevents the learning process is one who is eligible under IDEIA. A child who has a "substantial" impairment that impairs a "major life activity" is eligible under Section 504. "Learning" is viewed as a major life activity.
The purpose of 504 is to ensure that no child who is eligible under this law is not discriminated against as a result of his disability or prevented from having "accessibility" to the learning process. The legal protections and procedural safeguards become quite different under a 504 disability versus that of an IEP disability.
IDEIA has 14 defined disability categories and each have the same entitlement with regard to being provided an appropriate education as defined by an IEP. With a 504 Plan, the burden is whether or not a child with a substantial limitation is unable to have an equal opportunity to receive an appropriate education and is not discriminated against in the process.
Please note that all children who are recipients of an IEP thru IDEIA also have 504 protections as within the process of receiving an appropriate education there can be no discriminatory practices in this process.
IDEIA is also age driven and is no longer pertinent beyond a certain age but generally in most states, it is thru the age of 21 if that child remains in the public/private school. A 504 disability generally continues to be applicable in post secondary settings and even into the work place.
The website provided to you in an earlier response is a good and verifiable one. I would urge you to review Wrights interpretation of the differences between 504 and IDEIA. There are significant and substantial differences.