Skip to main content

Pupil Personnel Services

Director's Message

Dear Students and Families of the Sprague Public Schools,

I am honored to be the Director of Pupil Personnel Services in this great school community and to lead a talented department devoted to serving students and their families.  I look forward to conversations, listening and learning, and close collaboration with colleagues, students, and families as we continue to provide a free and appropriate education for all our students.  If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to reach me by phone at 860.822.8264 ext. 228 or email  I look forward to our continued collaboration to ensure an engaging, happy and successful school year for you and your children.

Brynn Lipstreu
Director of Pupil Personnel Services

Read below for information regarding what special education and section 504 is, how they are similar and different, and other pertinent questions for parents.

What is Special Education?

Special education is provided to a child with an identified disability who needs specially designed instruction to meet his/her unique needs and to enable the child to access the general curriculum of the school district. A child who is eligible for special education services is entitled by federal law to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE ensures that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate public education at no cost to the family. FAPE differs from student to student because each has unique needs. As a parent of a child who has or who may have a disability that requires specially designed instruction, you will work with a team of educators and, as appropriate, specialists to determine the needs of your child and to design an appropriate program to address your child’s educational needs.  

What is a 504?

Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is designed to help parents of students with physical or mental impairments in public schools, or publicly funded private schools, work with educators to design customized educational plans. These 504 plans legally ensure that students will be treated fairly at school.

Students can qualify for 504 plans if they have physical or mental impairments that affect or limit any of their abilities to:

  • walk, breathe, eat, or sleep
  • communicate, see, hear, or speak
  • read, concentrate, think, or learn
  • stand, bend, lift, or work
The goal of 504 plans is for students to be educated in regular classrooms along with the services, accommodations, or educational aids they might need. If students with these plans can’t achieve satisfactory academic success, as is determined by the school, then alternative settings in the school or private or residential programs can be considered.

What is the difference between and IEP and a 504?

A 504 plan is different from an individualized education program (IEP). The main difference is that a 504 plan modifies a student’s regular education program in a regular classroom setting. A 504 plan is monitored by classroom teachers. A student with an IEP, as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), may receive different educational services in a special or regular educational setting, depending on the student’s need. IEP programs are delivered and monitored by additional school support staff.

While the procedures are different, the goal of and 504 and an IEP is the same: to ensure that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education that is comparable to the education available to their non-disabled peers.

IEP plans under IDEA cover students who qualify for Special Education. Section 504 covers students who don’t meet the criteria for special education but who still require some accommodations. A student is eligible for a 504 plan as long he/she currently has or has had a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. A student is eligible for an IEP is they have a disability which requires specialized services in addition to accommodations and/or modifications to their educational program.

What are related services?

Related services are those services that are required in order for a child to benefit from special education. Related services may include, but not be limited to, psychological and counseling services, speech and language services, audiological services, guidance, social work, transportation, physical and occupational therapy and medical services that are required for diagnostic or evaluation purposes.  

How am I notified of my child’s rights?

You must be given a copy of Steps to Protect a Child’s Right to Special Education: Procedural Safeguards in Special Education one time each year that your child receives special education. Additionally, a copy must be given to you when: your child is referred for an initial evaluation or you request an evaluation; you file a complaint or request a due process hearing; or you request a copy.

Who is eligible for special education and related services?

To be eligible for special education and related services: Your child must be between 3 and 21 years old; Your child must have one or more of the following disabilities, determined by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004):

The disability must adversely affect your child’s educational performance; and as a result; your child requires a specially designed instructional program to address his or her unique educational needs. A district is not required, but has the option of, providing services to a child who has been identified as being gifted and/or talented.

What about children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools?

Children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools do not have an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that he or she would receive if enrolled in a public school. The school district in which the private school is located is responsible for providing what special education services it designates to children with disabilities placed by their parents in the private elementary or secondary schools in its town.