After the school has conducted their evaluation, a meeting is scheduled to determine whether the child is eligible for special education services. If so, there are 14 categories of which the student must qualify under one. The decision of eligibility and which category to place your child is made as a team. The IEP team includes qualified professionals, the parents, and when appropriate the child. It is important that parents request the assessment report results prior to having the meeting (20 USC 1414 (4)(B)). You will need this information in order to make effective decisions regarding your child's eligibility and services conducive to his needs. For instance, the school may tell you your child with Auditory Processing Disorder does not qualify for special education services. However, they are willing to place him on a 504 plan. Although this is seems completely ridiculous it happens! You will need to inform the school you disagree with their decision and you feel your child would benefit from special education services. Being prepared to provide documentation in support of your reasoning is a good idea.
Such documentation might include: email/notes from child's teacher(s) notifying parents of his behavior, lack of progress, class participation,etc., information about his disability from doctor or website, the school's assessment, parental classroom observations, etc.
A IEP includes the provisions of a 504 plan. However, the 504 plan does not include an IEP.
IDEA Eligibility Categories