Sweetwater County School District #2

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Special Services » 504 Parent Guide

504 Parent Guide

 A Guide for Parents of Students with Disabilities

CONTENTS                                                                                                                                                              

We hope this information will answer some of the questions you may have about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its impact on students with disabilities.

  • What is Section 504?
  • How can this help my child with his/her education?
  • How is Section 504 different from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that provides special education services? 
  • How is a child identified and evaluated?
  • Eligibility Criteria
  • What is a 504 Plan?
  • Accommodations available under a Section 504 Plan
  • How does a 504 Plan affect disciplinary measures?
  • I think my child meets the criteria for a 504 Plan. What should I do?
  • What do I do if I think my child is being discriminated against?

What is Section 504?         

Section 504 is an element of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 states:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” [29 U.S.C. §794(a)¸ 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)]

How can this help my child with his/her education?                      

Any student who has a disability¸ a record of a mental or physical impairment, and is regarded as having such an impairment that can be shown to substantially limit a major life skill such as breathing, walking, earning a living, or learning is entitled to reasonable accommodations.

How is Section 504 different from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that provides special education services?       

Section 504 is solely focused on discrimination with regard to equal access to learning. The key concept here is “the avoidance of discrimination in access to learning,” not “remediation in learning.” The Individual with Disabilities Education Act provides specialized instruction for students who need remediation.

How is a child identified and evaluated?

Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504 (parent or staff member); however, the school district must have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability (OCR Memorandum, April 29, 1993).

The referral will be reviewed by the building’s intervention team (BIT team), who will determine eligibility under Section 504.

Written documentation must be provided of the disability (e.g., medical, psychological, educational reports) and how it substantially limits a major life skill. No formalized testing is required; yet¸ the team should consider grades, teacher’s reports, information from parents, state assessment scores and other district assessments, observations, attendance records, discipline reports, health records and adaptive behavior information.

A meeting will take place within a reasonable period of time after the parent/guardian or staff member has made the request to the school. The team will provide written notification of the meeting to the parents/guardians.

The parents will always be given notice before their child is evaluated and/or placed under Section 504. Parents will also be provided with a copy of their parental rights and their child’s Section 504 Plan if the team determined that the child is eligible and could benefit from accommodations.

Eligibility Criteria 

The student must meet any one of the following criteria:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (including activities such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sleeping, standing, lifting, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, helping, eating, bending, or operation of a bodily function);
  • Has a record or history of such impairment
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment


Eligibility is determined by:

  • Verification from written documentation, medical, psychological, or agency reports
  • An evaluation in which appropriate information is gathered
  • Determination that the disability substantially limits a major life skill (breathing, walking, learning, etc.).

 

What is a 504 Plan?

The 504 plan is an individual student plan developed by the building intervention team.

The team will determine reasonable accommodations, modifications, adaptations, interventions, aid, and services that are necessary to meet the student’s individual needs.

Periodically, and at least annually, the team will review the student’s response to the effectiveness of the plan.  A parent may request at any time that the plan is reviewed and revised if needed.

If, at any time, the school team suspects that the student is in need of specialized instruction and/or related services, the team will schedule an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meeting with the parents to determine eligibility for special education under IDEA.

Accommodations available under a Section 504 Plan                  

Every child’s needs are determined individually. The team will consider the student’s disability and what the student needs to have an equal opportunity to compete and participate when compared to students who do not have a disability. The team may consider any reasonable accommodation.

Examples of reasonable accommodations are:

  • Extended time on tests and homework
  • Use of computer or calculator
  • Special seating
  • Behavior intervention plan
  • Visual aids
  • Any number of reasonable accommodations that allow equal access to learning

 

How does a 504 Plan affect disciplinary measures?        

Suspensions totaling ten days or fewer:

Any disciplinary case which totals no more than 10 days or when the total for the school year is less than 10 days¸ a student with a 504 Plan may be suspended in accordance with the procedures in the student handbook.

Suspensions/expulsions totaling more than ten days:

In suspensions involving over 10 total days for the year or any incident warranting more than a 10 day suspension or expulsion, a 504 team meeting must be held. The team must determine whether the event was a manifestation of the student’s disability. If the behavior was not related to the student’s disability, then the request for a suspension or expulsion remains and follows the regular procedures. If the behavior that resulted in the disciplinary action was a result of the student’s disability as determined by the 504 team, the suspension or expulsion is discontinued, and a functional behavioral assessment; along with, a behavior plan will be developed to assist the student with his/her behavioral concerns.  

I think my child meets the criteria for a 504 Plan. What should I do?  

If you believe that your child might benefit from a 504 Plan and is eligible, please contact your building administrator. The 504 evaluation process will include a meeting with the school’s Building Intervention Team to review your concerns and determine how to proceed.

What do I do if I think my child is being discriminated against?

First you should contact the building principal at your child’s school.  The building principal should take immediate steps to remedy your concerns. If you do not feel that the matter has been resolved, we encourage parents to contact the district’s superintendent and/or special services director.

Any person who has a complaint that discrimination on the basis of disability exists in any program funded with federal funds may notify the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  In Wyoming a written complaint should be filed with:

Region VIII Office for Civil Rights
US Department of Education
1244 Speer Blvd.¸ Suite 300
Denver¸ CO 80204-3582
(303) 844-3582
(303) 844-3417 TDD

Letters of complaint should explain:

1.     Who was discriminated against
2.     In what way
3.     By whom or what institution
4.     When the discrimination took place
5.     Who was harmed
6.     Who can be contacted for further information
7.     The name¸ address and telephone number of the complainant
8.     Background information

The office of Civil Rights will review only those actions which occurred within six months (180 days) of the date a complaint is filed.