Counseling » Special Education & 504

Special Education & 504

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What is Special Education?

It is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Special education may include but is not limited to: academic services, speech-language services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, counseling services, and parent education. Special education services are provided at no cost to parents. 


The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and state regulations require the Hawaii State Department of Education to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes a continuum of services for students who are eligible for special education and related services.


Special education services are made available to any student ages 3 to 22 who demonstrates a need for specially designed instruction, after an eligibility determination. An evaluation will determine the nature and extent of the student’s needs. Evaluations are comprised of separate assessments which may include: academic performance, communication skills, general intelligence, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, and motor abilities. If a student is eligible for special education, services are provided to the student through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).


What is Section 504?


Section 504 Plan: (Chapter 61)Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 is a Federal Civil Rights Law that protects students with disabilities from discrimination. In Hawaii, Chapter 61 (previously Chapter 53) is the Hawaii Administrative Rule that ensures the applicability of Section 504 in the public schools and assures a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to eligible students with disabilities.


To qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a disability that is affecting a major life function. Unlike an IEP, a "major life function" does not have to be an educational impact. A student can be doing well academically, but need social skills assistance or organizational skills due to ADHD. With either plan, a direct connection must be made from the disability to the impairment in school. A 504 Plan is usually a good option when the student is able to function well in a regular education environment with accommodations. The 504 is generally less restrictive than the IEP.

SPED Process