504 Plan or IEP?

I have been reading several special needs Facebook pages and I have seen this question over and over again, What’s the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?

Here is the answer:

A 504 Plan comes out of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 is a broad civil rights law that applies to students and other individuals with disabilities from being discriminated against for reasons related to their disability.
Under section 504, a child with a disability may receive accommodations (change how the student learns the material) and/or modifications (what a student is taught or expected to learn) that are not available to non-disabled students.

A child with an IEP has a specially designed education program that meets his or her specific educational need(s). It might include accommodations and modifications along with related services like speech or occupational therapy. It does not mean that these students are necessarily placed in a special classroom. Many children who have IEP’s are in general education classes. It does mean that in order for these students to make progress in grade level curriculum they need additional services beyond accommodations and modifications. You can have a gifted student who is in special education because they need a service like speech or OT.

Students who have an IEP are automatically protected under Section 504. If your child has a disability but does not require special education services then they can be served under a 504 Plan. Having and IEP offers the child and his or her parents rights and protections that 504 Plans do not.