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My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder — Not Otherwise Specified) when he was 5. He is now 8 and has been re-diagnosed with ADHD/ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). The school keeps telling us that his IEP is no longer valid because he does not “need” a specialized program since all of his accommodations can fall under a 504 plan. We’ve had a bit of a contentious relationship with this school, and things that we have asked for (e.g., an FBA-functional behavioral assessment) have not been done. The school keeps pushing for a 504, but I am worried that going to a 504 will eliminate, or limit, our rights to request special accommodations. I don’t know if a 504 plan could be adequately individualized for my son. I’m wondering what my rights are in this situation and wondering what steps I should take to keep my child on their IEP.

First, there are many situations where a student may qualify for either an IEP or a Section 504 plan. The decision as to which should be used should be made on an individualized basis. Further, often, children with PDD-NOS and/or ADHD do need an IEP, even if much of the intervention is based on accommodations. Certainly, children with these diagnoses have skills deficits that need remediation, justifying having goals, objectives and specific strategies or interventions to assist them in developing these skills. While schools may use the IEP format to write a 504 plan, most schools do not do so. Rather, their 504 plans are often focused on accommodations and not on plans for how the child will develop needed skills and how the child’s progress will be monitored.

If your child is already on an IEP, the school must convene a meeting to decide to terminate special education eligibility. If you request a due process hearing immediately after this decision, the school must maintain your child’s eligibility and previously provided services until the issue is resolved.

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