You Do NOT Need a 504 Plan Before You Can Have an IEP

I want to make something very clear because there’s a lot of confusion out there in public schools, and some public school personnel are telling parents the wrong thing. You do not need a 504 Plan before you can have an IEP. I’ve heard from parents who have said that public school officials have told them that they first need a 504 Plan, that the 504 Plan has to be put in place first before a child can have an IEP.

That is not true, okay. That is a lie. A child can qualify for an IEP and never have a 504 Plan. If someone is telling you this, either they’re ignorant or they are trying to stall. They want to give you a 504 Plan, or give your child a 504 Plan, instead of an IEP.

A 504 Plan is very simple compared to an IEP. It’s simple to put into place. It does not obligate the school district to do as many things as an IEP does. There’s a whole list of reasons why school districts tend to, not all the time but often enough, tend to persuade parents to get a 504 Plan rather than an IEP. If you want your child to be evaluated for an IEP, the school district can absolutely do it even if your child does not have a 504 Plan.

The IEP Advocate is your best shot at helping your child succeed in school (and life). We help parents get the school to approve and follow individual education plans (IEPs) for their children who are struggling in school. Even if the school is saying “no” to you, we’ll get them to say “yes” to us!

A Helpful Way To Take Meeting Notes

Here’s a helpful way to take meeting notes in your IEP meeting.

Usually what happens is someone’s assigned to take notes. They take notes for the whole meeting and then at the very end of the meeting is when the person reads the notes. Nothing wrong with that. But typically what happens if the meeting is longer, it takes a long time to read those notes back.

Number one, everybody’s tired, they want to be done, and so sometimes the notes don’t get the attention that they deserve. Secondly, people forget things. I repeatedly was falling into a challenge when it came to reading meeting notes, because I take incredibly great notes. So when we would read the notes back at the end of the meeting, I would want certain things to be inserted in the meeting notes that people had said. When I asked for them to be added to the meeting notes, invariably they would say, “Well, no, she didn’t say that.” And I said, “Oh yes, she did. I wrote it down word for word.” “No, no, no, no, no. She said this.” And so we’d have this whole discussion about “He said, she said,” and all the other kind of things.

So what I started doing was having interim meeting note summaries, and when the meeting starts and the person’s taking notes, whenever we finish discussing a certain topic. So if we’re talking about, let’s say curriculum and learning and how well the child’s doing with math, reading and writing, and the teacher discusses that and we have a conversation, and then we’re done with reading, math and writing and we’re going to start talking about social skills, I will stop. I will say, “Could we please read the notes for the section we just discussed?” so that then we can complete those notes. We don’t have to read them at the end, and we can just finalize that portion of it.

Many times, people really like the idea because they like the idea that they’re not going to have to read them all at the end of the meeting, because sometimes you run out of time. The other benefit is that since we just discussed reading, math and writing, if I want any changes made, I want anything additional that we discussed added to the meeting notes, it’s still fresh in everybody’s mind and they’re much more agreeable to add it to the notes.

Alrighty, have a great day. Bye-bye.

The IEP Advocate is your best shot at helping your child succeed in school (and life). We help parents get the school to approve and follow individual education plans (IEPs) for their children who are struggling in school. Even if the school is saying “no” to you, we’ll get them to say “yes” to us!

IEP Meetings: Get Past The Fluff

During a recent IEP meeting, the staff gushed about how cute the little boy was, how much he got along with other children and how much they enjoyed working with him. It was a lovely feel-good moment, and all of that was fine, but I wanted to know how the child was progressing in school. The staff may love him, but are they teaching him?

After several requests for evaluation data (the school didn’t want to give to us at first), the school showed that last year the child was reading at a 2.4 grade level. A year later he was at a 2.6 reading level. He was in fourth grade: He only made two months progress over an entire school year! I was quick to point this out to the school IEP team which put a damper on their enthusiasm for “how wonderful he was doing.” Two months’ worth of progress was not acceptable and I wanted to know what they were going to do to improve his reading scores.

Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to get caught up in things you want to hear that make you feel good, but don’t have much substance. This mom left the meeting with an entirely different perspective on her son’s “progress” in school. She was devastated because everyone told her not to worry, that he was doing well. The truth was…he wasn’t doing well at all.