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I am new to special education.  Can you explain the difference between an IEP and a 504? I think the IEP provides far more support but also alot of stigma. I had a friend who's a teacher ask me if my child was "one of those kids with an IEP?"  Please advise. Thanks

Concerned Dad,

There should be no stigma with receiving special education. I have represented numerous students who have greatly benefited form the various services available. Districts push 504 Plans because they are simpler for them to implement and run. I personally prefer the IEP over the 504 Plan for many reasons. IEP have legally mandated annual review and triennial reassessment requirement. They also have well defined complaint processes (Compliance Complaint with state department of education and Due Process Hearings). The IEP process is more structured.

The educators trying to attach a stigma to IEPs are doing a great disservice to students. I believe, and have witnesses numerous times, the benefits of implementing an IEP at an early age resulting in the student ceasing to need an IEP in middle or high school. There is nothing reported on transcripts about a student being in special education (unless they are so limited that they can't qualify for a Diploma). I represent kids getting A's in AP classes that are on IEPs for other needs such as ADD/ADHD, social skills and pragmatics.

In many states including here in California, students graduating from high school with an IEP will receive benefits in Junior College and some Universities (e.g. early registration, tutoring, counseling, fee waivers).

I always push for an IEP for my students.

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Tim Runner


Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.


I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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