504 vs IEP

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by worriedteacher, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. worriedteacher

    worriedteacher New Member

    OK, I'm almost embarrased to post this questions, but which is better, a 504 or an IEP?
    I have two kids (not my own, but that go to the school I work at) who have had behavior issues since Kindergarten and are now in fourth grade. Both of them (no not brothers, just happen to be in the same grade) have had behavior that has increased year after year and are now to the point of being in the court system. Neither child receives services from me, so I guess it's none of my business, but I really need to be able to recommend an appropriate (yes I hate that word too) course of action. I get asked my opinion about these types of issues a lot. Why? I have no idea!
    One (we'll call him Z) has been receiving speech services along with counseling which includes an FBA and a BIP. He is getting ready to be "graduate" from Speech, which leaves the school in limbo as to what to do now. His behavior does interfere with the learning of others and at times with his own learning. He does not have a learning disability and his IQ and achievement tests show average to above average abilities. So, do I recommend a 504 which would afford him most of the same protections as an IEP or do I recommend the IEP?
    Neither child is having academic issues, meaning they are still receiving good grades even with the disruptions of In-School suspensions (ISS), regular suspensions, etc. If I recommend an IEP they'll probably advise the families to go with an ED eligibility, although they may look into a OHI elibility. I hate the ED eligibility. Why? I don't know, it just seems so extreme, but if it's what's needed then that's what the SD should do.
    Those of you who have worked with the Special Education Departments (probably more than you want to) should be able to help me. Is there a preference? I think either option is appropriate.
    I don't know, I want to help both kids, but I don't know how. The principal (insert rolling eyes now) just seems to make things worse, and would rather they suffer. The counselor recommended to the principal that Z be allowed to come to my room for ISS and to cool down. The principal said "No, I don't want him to go there because Ms ____ will give him good behavior rewards when he shows good behavior." Yes, the principal actually said that!!!!! I want to help, but I don't know how. Please help!
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    An IEP could probably help either of these boys IF their behavior stems from their disabilities. I would think that the FBA & BIP would address these areas. I would also, if I were Z's parent, ask for another evaluation and extend services. The parents can request that the child have a same place to go to to cool down, by the way. The parents may have to get the superintendent involved if the principal is preventing an effective IEP or BIP from being written.
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    An IEP is much stronger than a 504. How many days and half-days has each boy spent in ISS, OSS, or the principal's office?
  4. worriedteacher

    worriedteacher New Member

    I can't give you an exact amount, but I know that Z has spent probably 7 days in ISS, but I don't know how many, if any in OSS. As for in the principal's office, more than I care to think of.
    In our SD they try to make sure that 504 and Special Education. are clearly two different things, that's why I'm so ignorant when it comes to which is better.
    When I do other IEPs I have to show an impact on academics and be able to clearly check off enviornmental factors when looking at eligibility. They are doing well in classes (make that, they are still making good grades despite all of the issues), and I know that they both have been through a ton of personal and family issues. Can't really get into all of that, but believe me when I say they've had it rough, which is probably why I feel so adamant about getting them the help they desperately need. So, don't these things rule out a special education eligibility. I know it sounds stupid for me to ask, but I have been going back and forth on this and still don't know.
    I have a self-contained classroom that includes children with varying degrees of cognitive disabilities. All fall within a mild cognitive deficit to severe and multiple disabilities. I am so used to testing, meeting, and providing services for children with significant cognitive disabilities, that I don't know how to help a child whose deficit doesn't fall in those areas, but has just as much need for help.
    Again, these aren't "my kids" but I soooo badly want to help them, because they just keep getting pushed further and further into an emotional abyss.
    Thank you for the advice so far. It seems that you guys feel that an IEP is best,
    so I'll continue to try and push the people involved into a recommendation for Special Education. eligibility rather than 504.
    Sorry for such lengthy responses! I'll try to keep it short from now on! :)
  5. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    An IEP is an individualized education plan. It is supposed to be used when modifications in the curriculum or educational setting is necessary in order for a child to benefit from a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

    A 504 plan is a way of leveling the playing field for disabled students. If they can't go up the steps a ramp is installed. If they can't pay attention without visual cues and a copy of the notes to follow, then those are provided.

    When it comes to situations like the ones you are describing things are much harder to sort out. Especially when you have a principal who never met a student she didn't like to punish.

    Has the child with the existing IEP been referred for 26.5 mental health services? If this hasn't been done I would suggest you ask about this.

    A child can't simply be exited from Special Education without the parent's agreement. What is going on with the parents of these kids? I'm guessing they are not advocating for their kids due to their own issues. Will the parents do anything to push for services or Special Education certification for their kids?

    Speech is tricky. I am willing to be that the kid who's scheduled to be exited has language processing issues that have either not been expressly assessed or have not been assessed in the way they need to be. Even then kids with more subtle problems that will be more and more disabling will not necessarily score really poorly on standardized testing. It's the real world stuff like reciprocal conversation or understanding whether their message is being understood that become obstacles. And generally, school districts focus on standardized scores.

    That level of suspension/removal from the classroom in a kid with disabilities should have triggered an IEP meeting to review placement and determine if there are changes that need to be made. If there's been enough absence that you are approaching 10 days then a manifestation hearing is supposed to be held to determine whether the behaviors are due to disability or not.

    You are in a tough spot. It sounds like these kids both need supports but figuring out how to provide that within the IEP framework is going to take someone committed to doing the right thing who has the power to do it and can persuade the parent's of that.

    A child does not have to be failing academically to qualify for an IEP as disabled. This is a well established fact, despite the assertions of those who don't know any better. But there does have to be a need for some Special Education services. Needing a place to go during the school day to calm down is, in my book, absolutely an indicator that these kids need services or supports. If the principal is unwilling to see that and make some allowances informally then either a 504 or IEP is needed.

    If you have the time I would suggest you check out the Wright's Law website and it's info on discipline and behavior issues.


    I'm not sure this all made sense - I'm really tired tonight but I hear your concern for these kids.

    The biggest thing that I can see happening is that they are going to have big trouble making the transition from 4th to 6th as the academic load increases so much. 4th isn't too bad but by 6th the expectations are much, much higher. By 7th grade they may be failing. So intervening now would be good. I could see these kids dropping out before they finish high school despite their intellectual ability to graduate.

  6. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    My Kiddo's IEP is for emotional disability that causes behavioral issues. It's helped a lot, and to my (untrained) eye it looks pretty bare bones, mostly just extra time, extra support, reinforcements, social skills training with different people a few times a week. She's totally main-streamed and of above average intelligence.
  7. worriedteacher

    worriedteacher New Member

    Thanks guys!! I know that these sound like really stupid questions for someone who works in Special Education, but my area is sooo completely different. The parents aren't really advocates of their students' rights, whether due to the situations they're facing on their own or a lack of knowledge of their rights. The kids really need someone to advocate for them, and even though it's really none of my business, I feel like I'm the only one who wants to help.
    I have been to the Wrightslaw webpage and have a couple of their books, so I'll go back through those to see what I can find to make sure these two get what they need.
    I appreciate all of the help!!
  8. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Most teachers like you, in my experience, are muzzled by their school district if they start making noises like a kid shouldn't be exited, denied services or should be receiving services and are not. However, if this is not what will happen in your case, you could always approach the parents and offer to help them interpret test scores or go to the IEP meeting with them. Perhaps you could have an informal talk with the school psychologist about these kids and your concerns since you are familiar with the situation. If they choose to, the school psychiatric can strongly influence the outcome of the findings of the IEP meeting by the things they decide to assess and the position they take on eligibility or need for services/supports.

    If the school psychiatric is likely to be unaware of the big picture then I would think you could share your insights without violating confidentiality. And since you're a teacher at the same school that issue may not even arise - I don't know about that "technicality".

    If you think this is going to put your job or performance reviews in jeopardy is there someone else, not a teacher in your district, that you know who could do this? A couple years ago a friend connected me to a wonderful woman who had taught math for years. Because she was a teacher in a completely different district she was free to help me when I was having trouble getting our district to write appropriate math goals for my kids. She even attended an IEP meeting with me and helped me re-write the district goals to be more appropriate and measurable, etc.

  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    If their behavior ~ that is a result of their disability ~ has caused them to miss 10 or more days of school, it is preventing them from getting their FAPE.

    Have you read Lost At School by Ross Green? If not, I would suggest reading it this weekend. It has a lot of strong suggestions.
  10. worriedteacher

    worriedteacher New Member

    rlsnights - Fortunately I do have some pull with the people who make decisions, and they asked my opinion (which is always a bad idea!), so they are going to get it. I'm just doing as much research as possible so that I make the most informed recommendation I can. Where I don't work with 504s, I wasn't sure if that would make more sense for them since their academics are still good. But, I see now where that would probably not provide them with the strongest protections. The problem isn't so much the SD listening to the recommendations as much as the actual school! But, if it is in writing they will have to do what we say or face legal consequences.
    jjj - I ordered Lost at School the week before last and received it last Friday!! I have read it, highlighted it, an read it again. It has some great ideas!!! I have already told the Special Education counselor that she needs to read it before revising Z's BIP and before developing the other child's BIP. I think I'm pretty clear about most of the issues that I need to take into consideration to make an informed recommendation (thanks to you guys), now let's just hope everyone will follow it as it is laid out!!

  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

  12. teen parent

    teen parent New Member

    Sevices are limited under the 504. IEP opens the doors to wider range of support. The biggest difference is that if your childs needs cannot be met with the support of an IEP than the school is obligated to pay for other educational alternatives ie private school. You could see why this would motivate the school system to avoid IEP whenever possible. If you think your child has a learning disability then push for the iep.