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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. A person with a disability is defined as having a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activity, including walking, seeing, hearing and aspects of learning such as reading, writing and calculating. The law requires schools to eliminate any barriers that prevent students with such disabilities from participating fully in their education. It requires a written 504 Plan setting forth reasonable accommodations that will be made to give the child equal educational access.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) provides for free and appropriate education (FAPE) services for children with disabilities  in specific categories, including adaptive, cognitive, communica­tions, physical or social-emotional  development. IDEA requires that eligible students ages 3-21 receive a written individualized education program (IEP) that provides for personalized instruction in order to make meaningful progress in school at no cost to the parents. 

How can I meet other parents of children with disabilities?

The North Andover Special Education Parent Advisory Council (NASEPAC) is a volunteer organization of parents with children on IEP and 504 plans. They hold monthly planning meetings and frequently sponsor educational seminars and programs. All are welcome. Please visit their website to join their mailing list and to find out how you can get involved or to learn about upcoming events.