IEPs, 504s and Special Education Law

Federation for Children with Special Needs is a nonprofit with the mission to educate and support parents in the special education process.  They offer live workshops and follow the link to view power points.  They also provide phone support for parent questions.

LD OnLine: Understanding the Differences Between IDEA and Section 504
An overview of IDEA and Section 504

The Concord SEPAC has assembled a particularly good reference site

Disabilities Definitions from the state department of elementary and secondary education

Services Under IDEA: Who’s Eligible

Not every child with learning and attention issues is eligible for special education services under IDEA. First, a child must be found to have one of the 13 kinds of disabilities that IDEA covers. They are:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment (including ADHD)
  • Specific learning disability (including dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, among others)
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment, including blindness

As of 2012, about 5.8 million school-age children in the United States receive special education services as a result of IDEA. More than 40 percent—roughly 2.3 million—are students identified with a specific learning disability.

Kids with disabilities don’t automatically qualify for special education services, though. In order to be eligible, a student must:

  • Have a disability and, as a result of that disability…
  • Need special education in order to make progress in school

Read More

Understand 504 Plans

A 504 plan can give you peace of mind. This is especially true if your child already gets informal supports at school and you want to make sure they continue. But first, you need to know what a 504 plan can provide, what your rights are, how to pursue a 504 plan and what makes a child eligible. The more you know, the better you can advocate for your child.

What is a 504 plan?This type of plan falls under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is the part of the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against public school students with disabilities. That includes students with learning and attention issues who meet certain criteria.

Much like an IEP, a 504 plan can help students with learning and attention issues learn and participate in the general education curriculum. A 504 plan outlines how a child’s specific needs are met with accommodations, modifications and other services. These measures “remove barriers” to learning.  Read More

Federation for Children with Special Needs– The Federation is a center for parents and parent organizations to work together on behalf of children with special needs and their families. The Federation offers workshops and training, advocacy and resources to parents of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them.

Quick Start Guide to the Special Education Process

%disability2014 Overview of Learning Disabilities by National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Facts, Trends and Emerging Issues in Learning Disabilities:A great deal is known about the 5% of our nation’s school-age population whose learning disabilities (LD) have been formally identified. Data suggest that an additional 15% or more of students struggle due to unidentified and unaddressed learning and attention issues.


US Dept of Education, Office of Civil Rights Protecting Kids from Harassment and Hate Crime reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Letter templates for Special Education communications with the school

Notice of Procedural Safeguards

Guide to Mediation

Video: Learning Neuropsych Evaluation presentation by pediatric neuropsychologists,  When do you need a neuropsych evaluation?  IEP goal examples

Understanding MCAS Scores and and how to help support your student, identifying weaknesses and how you can support the learning at home.

School Discipline Guide MA Appleseed has developed this Parent Guide to help parents and guardians navigate through the discipline process. The different types of disciplinary actions schools can take and ways to advocate for students are discussed.

Dept of Education Transition Guidelines services begin in the school year that the child turns 14 and are geared to finding skills, and interests and providing guidance for developing these into a career and life beyond public school.

SPAN provides parents of children with disabilities a better understanding of the role of an advocate and act as a resource for advocacy services. Advocate Resource List:

Help for Students with Autism, tips for educators  by Easter Seals and (American Federation of Teachers)– Online information, community, practical tips and resources for parent’s of children with attention and learning differences. resource for developmental disability news.‘s goal is to improve access to assistive technology so that persons with disabilities can live, work, study, play, and participate independently in all aspects of our communities.

Federation for Children with Special Needs Transition Ages 14-22 This page of the Federation’s website has numerous links regarding transition, including an online presentation–Transition 101: High School to Adulthood.

Checklist for Transitioning From High School to College As you and your teen look ahead to college, make sure you’re both aware of key differences between high school and college: special education services and the laws that support and protect those with learning disabilities. There are no IEP’s in college!

Shrewsbury District’s Transition Resources listing

Think College! College options for people with intellectual disabilities
Find a college in Massachusetts

Housing Guide for individuals with Disabilities in Massachusetts

This listing is for information only. Listing does not indicate an endorsement by Hopkinton Special Education Parents Advisory Council (Hopkinton SEPAC). It is important to check references, review credentials, and interview service provider to understand whether their, program/skills and approach are a good fit.  Wish to add to our list?  Send suggestions to