Can I change a 504 to an IEP? Well… maybe.

Jan 05, 18 Can I change a 504 to an IEP? Well… maybe.

Can I change a 504 to an IEP? Maybe, but most likely no

In previous articles we introduced the 504 Plan. We also talked about the difference between a 504 and an IEP. During Dr. Day’s visit to Gateway to Success Learning Center a parent asked if they can convert their child’s 504 Plan to an IEP. Excellent question! After some research we found that in general, the answer is no BUT every case is different.

Let’s revisit the definitions and purpose of the 504 and the IEP.


An IEP (individual education plan) is developed based on a federal law called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA guarantees that children with specific disabilities are guaranteed a free and appropriate public education. The disability must impact their ability to learn and require special education services. This is is a very important point because not every disability impacts learning. For example, use of a wheelchair is considered a disability but does not require any change to the standard curriculum, or how it is taught, in order for the child to learn the material.

504 Plan

The 504 Plan is named after Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The act ensures that children with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations and services so they can fully participate in classes. The 504 Plan describes the services and accommodations the school system will provide. For example, a child who is deaf may need a sign language interpreter but not special education services. Meaning, the curriculum and how it is taught does not have to altered in any way for the child to learn but an interpreter accommodation is needed.

How to change a 504 to an IEP

Generally, you can’t. In order to change a 504 Plan to an IEP the child must be evaluated by an IEP team and determined to have a qualifying disorder. This is not likely because disabilities that qualify for a 504 and those that qualify for an IEP are not the same. However, can a child’s health condition change? Yes. Can a child develop a disability that requires special education services? Yes, traumatic brain injury from a car accident for example. But these are unique circumstances. Misdiagnosis is a more likely scenario. PLEASE be careful with this. More likely than not your child is appropriately diagnosed. However, if behaviors increase and grades decrease or behaviors don’t seem related to the diagnosis a parent can advocate for re-evaluation or have the child seen by an outside physician. Parents and the school must be partners in this process. Even the best schools can make mistakes and need redirection and feedback. Work with your school, your team, your child, your family, and your physician. It takes a village to provide proper support.



IEP jargon. What are developmental milestones?


Your child is diagnosed with autism. CONGRATULATIONS!

Support jargon: What is ABA?

Maryland budget: special education and disabilities funding

Time to vent: The disability transportation road to redemption in Baltimore City

Activities and events for disabled children – KEEN Greater DC special needs activities

Easterseals hosts respite weekends

SETH TALK – Makeia Kelly sets up 9th grade IEP

Sick leave to care for disabled family: Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

Disability Support: Mastering the art of sharing power.

Treatment jargon: what is behavior therapy?



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External Resources

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD








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