Special Education and 504 services are available at all public schools. These services are to assist students who need more support than what is normally available in the general education classroom. The basic model in MN is based on a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). A brief explanation is below:
The standard classroom and normal interventions such as: changing seats, following up with parents, and organizers in class.
Additional identified help for students but still within the general classroom context.
Evaluation for SpEd/504
If a student still needs more intense services this is where a referral for evaluation would take place. This includes observations, intervention data, testing, etc which culminates in a team meeting to determine service placement.
SpEd IEP/504 Plan
Depending on evaluation outcome, the team would outline an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. This could involve various specialist services, accommodations, modifications to program, environment changes, etc. This is determined in the team meetings for each student and are reviewed regularly.
Differences Between an IEP and a 504 Plan?
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a legal document that authorizes a student to receive Special Education services. This is tied to different funding requirements and includes a wide range of services depending on the particular needs of the student.
An IEP is typically the direction a district goes when there is an identifiable disability that affects academic ability. For example a specific learning disability, developmental delay, or an emotional behavioral disorder.
A 504 Plan is also a legal document, however the plan takes place in the context of the general education setting and as such additional/separate funding is not available for services in this category. Districts pay for these services out of their general funding.
A 504 Plan is typically the direction a district goes when there is a physical or mental health issue that limits a major life function to be able to access an education. For example: a student with a physical disability but not academically impaired or a student struggling with a mental health issue that prevents them from getting to school.