I’m not sure what steps you’ve already taken to fight for an IEP. Or what your knowledge is regarding IEP vs. 504. So forgive me if I am restating what you may already know.
In general, the difference between a 504 and an IEP is services.
For a 504, a child would have a disability that substantially limits one or more basic life activities (like walking or learning) Under a 504 your child should receive accommodations so they can access the same education as any other child. Like preferential seating or extra time to take tests. There are not services generally associated with a 504 and they are not overseen as well as an IEP.
For a child to qualify for an IEP, a child will have disability that adversely affects a child’s educational performance and thereby needs special education and services. A service would be something like speech or occupational therapy.
It is interesting that you refer to “OHI” or “other health impairment” associated with a 504. It’s more of an IEP term. There are 13 disability areas under which children qualify for an IEP, OHI is one of them. And yes, ADHD and Tourette’s can fall under this category. Kids with these disabilities sometimes DO qualify for an IEP. And in my opinion, more are in need of IEP’s.
Tourette’s in particular is often very misunderstood by schools. It is NOT a requirement that a child with Tourette’s must also have some type of learning disability. (Though teams have tried to argue otherwise) While some kids with Tourette’s do fine with accommodations from a 504. Some really do need the services and yes special education from an IEP. They have issues with executive functioning, OCD, language processing, memory impairment, visual and fine motor impairment. They have difficulty with writing and spelling and can get easily over-stimulated leading to more tics, and need counseling for being misunderstood or bullied. They sometimes need occupational therapy to stay regulated and lessen the tics or for some type of visual or motor processing help. Or they may need speech therapy for language or memory processing. Or they may need special education for spelling or some other type of processing issue that impacts academics. And don’t get me started on ADHD..
Even if a child has good grades, there still may be a need for services and an IEP.
But sometimes, yes, getting an IEP for ADHD and or Tourette’s can be an uphill battle.
To get your child an IEP (and you may have done this) you must first ask the team to assess. In writing. You write an email that says you are very concerned about your child (you can describe any academic, social emotional or behavioral concerns) and feel like he may need special education and services. You are asking that they please assess your child to see if he qualifies for an IEP. You are asking that they please assess in all areas of suspected disability, but at least in the areas of a psychoeducation, occupational therapy, and speech. If behavior has been a big factor, you can ask for a functional behavior assessment. Say you look forward to receiving an assessment plan soon.
Once this notice is sent, they have 15 days to present you with an assessment plan. (They cannot conduct the assessments without your written consent) OR they can refuse to assess by proving “prior written notice.” This is a formal letter stating why they won’t assess. Don’t accept offers for parent teacher conferences, or student study teams. You are requesting an assessment and you look forward to receiving an assessment plan soon. If they want to meet for a 504, this is fine, but make sure to document that you are not attending the 504 in lieu of your request for an IEP assessment, your request still stands. Students can have BOTH an IEP and a 504.
If they say no, via prior written notice or otherwise, or ignore your request for an unreasonable time, you may want to contact an advocate or attorney. You may be able to file due process to get the assessments, either from the district or by funding your own independent educational evaluations and getting them to reimburse you.
If the team finally does present you with an assessment plan, you can sign it and they have 60 days to complete the assessment and hold an IEP determination meeting. If at that IEP meeting, they say he does not need an IEP, you have the right to disagree with the assessment(s) and ask them to fund independent educational evaluations. (IEE’s) IEE’s are sort of second opinion assessments done by a qualified outside assessor (not from the district) of your choosing. You may want to talk to an advocate or attorney who can refer you to a reputable assessor. If you disagree with their assessments (or they just never get to assessing) you may trust the feedback you receive from an independent assessor anyway.
Again schools do seem to have a tougher time understanding and supporting Tourette’s and ADHD. But schools are required to locate and evaluate any child that may have a disability requiring special education services. You have the right to a full comprehensive multi-disciplinary evaluation.
I usually find that parents know their children best, so if you feel your child is struggling and needs an IEP-
Best of Luck-
Lead Advocate, San Diego Special Education Advocate Team