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Section 504

About Section 504

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in employment, public services and  lodging accommodations solely on the basis of disability.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all recipients of federal funds – including public schools.  Students who are determined to have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities are eligible for Section 504 services and protections.

 

Section 504 requires school districts to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities.  To accomplish this, 504 teams decide what supports are necessary for a student with a disability to have access to his/her education comparable to that of their same age peers.  These supports are then written into a “504 Accommodation Plan”.  For instance, a student’s team may determine that – because the student is legally blind – the student needs their test questions read out loud by a proctor. 

 

Some students with disabilities may also qualify for special education instruction under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  These students still have the right to the protections set forth under Section 504.

Learn More Below:

  • For Parents – Quick Guide to 504 Process
  • For Parents – Q/A about Section 504
  • Additional Resources

For Parents – Quick Guide to the 504 Process

  1. You believe your son/daughter has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., he/she has a vision impairment and struggles to see, he/she has a learning disability and struggles to read)

 

  1. Complete the parent initiated request form.  There is an option to provide pre-existing medical documentation of this impairment

 

  1. Your school 504 coordinator will contact you to obtain further information

 

  1. Your permission to evaluate is obtained.  The team will review multiple points of data in determining the existence of a substantially limiting disability

 

  1. In addition to parent input and medical documentation, data is collected in the following areas:
    1. Prior school assessments
    2. Attendance and discipline records
    3. Teacher input (prior and current)
    4. Previous interventions
    5. Report cards/progress notes

 

  1. A team is called to review data.  The team will include: the school 504 coordinator,  classroom teacher(s), the parent/guardian(s), the student (as appropriate).  It may also include the school administrator, district 504 coordinator or school psychologist

 

  1. If the team determines there IS an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the student will be found eligible under Section 504.  The evaluation data is reviewed at least every 3 years.

 

  1. Next the team asks if instructional and environmental accommodations are needed for the student to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) equal to that of his/her peers.   

 

  1. If the answer is yes, the team will consider appropriate accommodations and create an accommodation plan.  Accommodation plans are reviewed whenever there is a change in placement, the student’s disability changes or if a team member requests it.

 

(For Parents – Q/A about Section 504)

Q/A About Section 504 Evaluation and Planning

 

What is Section 504? “Section 504” is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights statute protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination. Section 504 applies to all agencies that receive federal funds, including public schools.
How is disability defined under Section 504? Section 504 defines disability as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” 

Temporary impairments are impairments that are transitory and last 6 months or less.  These impairments are  typically not covered under Section 504 but instead, the school may develop “temporary accommodations”

What does Section 504 do for students with disabilities? Section 504 guarantees that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education.  Section 504 intends to “level the playing field” and will provide accommodations or other supports to meet the individual educational needs of a student with a disability as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met.
How is a referral made? Parents can initiate the process by completing a Parent Initiated Request Form– this will go directly to the school 504 coordinator.
Who makes decisions about whether a student has a disability under Section 504? The decision is made by people knowledgeable about the student, the evaluation data that is collected as well as support options.  In 4J we try to include the parent/guardian, teacher(s), the school coordinator and possibly the school administrator, district 504 coordinator or school psychologist.
I have a letter from my doctor, is that enough to qualify for a 504 plan? Not necessarily.  While medical documentation is helpful, the 504 team will look at multiple points of data when making a determination.
What are multiple points of data? In addition to parent input and medical documentation, data is collected in the following areas:

  1.      Prior school assessments
  2. Attendance and discipline records
  3. Teacher input (prior and current)
  4. Previous interventions
  5. Report cards/progress notes
What decisions does the team make? FIRST:  The team must decide whether the student has a disability under Section 504.

THEN:  The team must then decide if the student needs a Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan to access his or her education.

What is a Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan? The Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan documents specific instructional or environmental adjustments or supports the student needs to ensure that the individual needs of the student with a disability are met as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students. The comparison is to an average student in the general population. The Section 504 plan is designed to provide appropriate supports in the least restrictive environment, not necessarily all of the supports that would “maximize the student’s potential”.
Is a Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan the same as an IEP? No. An IEP (Individualized Education Program) is written for

students who have disabilities under the Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These students must need

Special Education instruction and services to be eligible for an IEP.

What happens if the team does not agree about whether the student has a disability or about what needs to be on the plan? The team should try to reach consensus. If consensus is not possible, then the district representative for the team (typically an administrator) will make the ultimate decision. If the parent does not agree, the parent may pursue resolution options.
What are the resolution options under Section 504? The parent may use the district’s uniform complaint resolution procedures, as described in administrative regulation KL-AR.  These procedures provide both informal complaint resolutions as well as for formal complaint procedures. A starting place is to have an informal meeting with a school principal or assistant principal to review the matter and share concerns.  The parent may also contact the district’s 504 Program Coordinator or Director of Supports Services.  More information is available on the district’s Complaint Page.

Parents also have the right to request a hearing from the

Oregon Department of Education if they disagree with the

identification, evaluation, placement or provision of appropriate services to the student.

The parent may file a complaint with the federal  Office for Civil Rights.

When should the student’s Section 504 Eligibility and Accommodation Plan be reviewed? The team meets to review the accommodation plan annually and meets to review eligibility every three years.  If the district is considering a significant change in placement, then a reevaluation and review should be conducted before that change.
What is a “significant change in placement”? A significant change in placement is a placement that changes the nature, type or duration of the educational program for the student. A minor change in program such as a new teacher or moving to another classroom at the same level, or moving to another building in the same type of program would not be considered a significant change. 

Significant changes in placement occur because the student’s needs change or because the student has engaged in conduct that results in a disciplinary removal of more than 10 school days from school.

How is a “504 Protection Only” student protected from being suspended or expelled for conduct that is related to the student’s disability? Before the school implements a suspension or expulsion that

would remove the student for more than ten days, the school must hold a

team meeting to do a manifestation review. The team

considers:

• whether the student’s conduct was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability; and

• whether the student’s conduct was a direct result of the school not implementing the student’s Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan.

If the team concludes that either of these are true, then the school may not impose the suspension or expulsion. (However, the student may be disciplined for drug or alcohol related offenses to the same extent as students without disabilities.) 

If the team concludes that the conduct was not caused by or directly related to the student’s disability and not caused by lack of implementation of the 504 plan, the student may be disciplined in the same manner as students without 

disabilities.

In addition, the team may also decide to revise the accommodation plan in order to better support the student. 

What do I do if I feel like my student’s accommodations are not being offered?
  1. Communicate your concerns with your child’s teacher
  2. If you need more assistance, ask your school counselor for support
  3. If the issue is unresolved, reach out to your school administrator.

 

Additional Resources

 

Section 504 Resources

Protecting Students With Disabilities (OCR FAQ)

Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Students with ADHD

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education

Free Appropriate Public Education for Students with Disabilities: Requirements Under Section 504

 

Accommodation Resources

Accommodation Examples for Specific Disabilities

College Board Information on Accommodations for PSAT and SAT

Letter template to parents about requesting accommodations (PSAT) (revised 5/13/10)

Eugene 4J Assitive Technology

 

Service Animal Information:
ADA Requirements: Service Animals 
Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA   (Service Animal Form)

 

Legal Regulations and Policies

Section 504 – Civil Rights at Oregon.gov

Title 34 Education – U.S. Department of Education

For Parents – Parent/Student Rights under Section 504 –Spanish version

 

Mental Health

Mental health disorders significantly impact our youth. These disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. The links below provide more information about these conditions, as well as information about typical child and adolescent development. For more information see:

  1. www.nami.org
  2. www.youth.gov
  3. www.nih.gov

Some of these websites include ideas for classroom accommodations. For students with disabilities covered by Section 504, the 504 team makes the ultimate determination of what accommodations would be appropriate.  

 

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