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SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: It’s NOT like IDEA!

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Presentation on theme: "SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: It’s NOT like IDEA!"— Presentation transcript:

1 SECTION 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: It’s NOT like IDEA!
Presented by: Robert Compton Director of Student Services, South Carolina Public Charter School District Adapted from a presentation created by: Rock Hill School District 3

2 Disclaimer Section 504 IS NOT special education; it’s a general education responsibility Don’t think because “Robbie” oversees it means it’s a special education thing. 504 compliance and coordination falls under the District’s Director of Student Services.

3 Section 504 School Expectations
All South Carolina Public Charter School District schools are required to follow the District’s Section 504 Policies and Procedures. These procedures include the identification of the principal or his/her designee as the "Section 504 School Coordinator," who is the building-level compliance monitor and coordinator for Section 504 support. The District’s Section 504 Compliance Officer is Robbie (me). The District’s Section 504 Compliance Officer cannot serve on school 504 committees because this person is part of the District’s grievance process.

4 Building Level 504 Coordinator
Roles and Responsibilities: Provide guidance and answer questions surrounding 504 referral, evaluation, and implementation from parents/guardians, students, and/or school staff Attend professional development/training sessions throughout the school year Schedule and Lead meetings with parents/guardians and relevant school staff Responsible for data collection in preparation for meetings Maintain school level 504 files for each student Submit necessary paperwork to Zenobia Ealy in a timely manner

5 What is Section 504? The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as “Section 504,” is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of their disability by institutions that receive federal assistance. Section 504’s purpose is, among other things, to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students. If a student is covered by Section 504, South Carolina Public Charter School District Schools must provide protection and accommodations as are necessary to ensure that the eligible student has equal access to services, programs or activities offered by our schools.

6 Section 504 is NOT Special Education
IDEA Student must have a disability that falls into a defined qualifying area and adversely affect educational performance Must need specially designed instruction Requires a comprehensive evaluations, including screenings, psycho-educational evaluations and intervention data Criteria of exclusion/narrow eligibility Works well with RTI Defined IEP team members Parent consent required Strict and specific timelines Section 504 Student must have* physical or mental impairment that sub- stantially limits a life function. Prevents discrimination, insures equal access with accommodations and services Requires relevant information from a variety of sources Broadened eligibility Does not work well with RTI Decision by group of “knowledgeable persons”. Parent consent recommended “Reasonable” timelines NOT modifications or special instruction - have, has a records of, is regarded as having the impairment Substantial Limitation: After the existence of the impairment is documented, how does it substantially limit a major life activity? Pervasive across learning environments? Significantly impairs access Life function Not just learning – there’s a long list and you’ll see it on the eligibility form No unreasonable delays

7 Can’t Have Both… It should be noted that students who qualify for special education services under the IDEA Act are automatically protected under Section 504. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) satisfy the requirements of an accommodation plan. Not the other way around. Any due process complaint or law suit under IDEA can (and almost always does) include charges of violation of 504 (monetary awards). IDEA = due process; 504 = discrimination

8 Who Can Refer a Student? Section 504 Referrals can come from:
A parent/guardian Eligible Adult Student School Staff (Teacher, Nurse, Administrator, Special Area Teacher, or *RTI Team) …who believes the student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. *A student should NOT go through the RTI process if they are being referred for a 504.

9 When Should a School Refer?
When someone thinks the students has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits 1 or more life functions Receive a doctor’s note or medical report Student returns after a serious illness or injury Student is suspected of having an impairment Student exhibits signs of a chronic health problem/has absences due to illness

10 Who Should Serve on a 504 Team?
School Level 504 Coordinator (required for initial) Parent/Adult Student Relevant School Staff Persons knowledgeable of the child Persons knowledge of meaning of evaluation data, Knowledgeable of accommodations/placement options School Psychologist

11 Eligibility Requires Evaluation
Specific criteria ARE NOT required! Evaluation does not necessarily mean TEST; formal testing is not required! Requires data from a variety of sources Not just a note from a doctor or 1 discipline report (etc.) Failing grades are not required What does the 504 team need to “identify the specific nature of the disability and identify the services necessary”? Not like qualifying for ID (IQ scores, Adaptive Behavior scores, etc.) Don’t stall or spend time waiting for parents to get something from the doctor – won’t fly in an OCR case. If we think we need it, we’ll have to pay for it and get it – within a reasonable time! This should not be hard!

12 Common Sources of Evaluation Data
Student grades, disciplinary referrals, health information, parent information, test scores, teacher comments, Special ed. assessments and data The amount and the “weight” is determined by the 504 team, given the student’s individual circumstances Screenings (vision, hearing, S/L, health) are NOT required No medical diagnosis is absolutely required (if you have other data…) In fact, if the school wants a medical diagnosis, we CAN’T put the burden on the parents – we will have to pay for it! The 504 Team may conduct the evaluation with out a medical diagnosis if it believes it has other effective methods of determining the existence of a physical or mental impairment. Parent SAYS the kids has ADHD but no report. Do you have data indicating the problems? Observations, grades, discipline reports, etc.?

13 Section 504 Eligibility (3 Part Process)
You will see the area of Major Life Activities on our Eligibility Form Answer YES to all 3 parts for eligibility. Non-disabled peer = “Average Student” = C

14 Had Enough? Let’s look at the process
It really rather simple! All Necessary Paperwork for Section 504 is Located on in the DropBox (SCPCSD 504 Documents)

15 Section 504 Referral Procedures
Step 1 – Parent Request If a parent/guardian or adult student requests 504 consideration, he/she is directed to the school’s 504 Coordinator. The school’s 504 Coordinator : Completes the Referral for Section 504 form in an interview with the parent/adult student Provides the parent/guardian/adult student with a copy of Section 504 Rights Schedules a meeting with the parent/adult student and relevant school staff*, then sends the parent/adult student a Section 504 Meeting Invitation. The 504 Coordinator coordinates data collection in preparation for the meeting. Discuss Relevant School Staff 504 Coordinator required to attend initial meeting

16 Section 504 Referral Procedures
Step 1 – School Staff Request If a school staff member wants to request 504 consideration for a student the staff member contacts the school’s 504 Coordinator. The 504 coordinator does the following: Completes the Referral for Section 504 form with the referring staff member. Schedules a meeting with relevant school staff* and parent/guardian, then sends the parent a Section 504 Meeting Invitation. The student’s parent is also sent a copy of Section 504 rights. The 504 Coordinator coordinates data collection in preparation for the meeting. Relevant school staff includes persons knowledgeable of the child, knowledgeable of meaning of evaluation data, and/or knowledgeable of accommodation/placement options.

17 Step 2 – Initial Mtg Held An initial 504 meeting is held. At the initial 504 team meeting: The Referral for Section 504 form and available data are reviewed by the team. The team determines if additional information is needed to help determine 504 eligibility. The Parent Permission for 504 Evaluation form is completed by the team, and signed by the parent, if in attendance.

18 Step 2 – Additional Data Not Needed
If additional data or information is not needed, the meeting continues and the 504 team completes: The Section 504 Initial Evaluation & Periodic Re-Evaluation form A Section 504 Plan, if applicable. Ensures 504 Parental Rights have been provided to the parent, guardian, or adult student.

19 Step 2 – More Data Needed If additional data or information is needed, this initial meeting ends. The additional data is collected then the team reconvenes. The 504 Coordinator will schedule the meeting and send the parent/guardian a Section 504 Meeting Invitation. At this follow-up meeting, the team completes: The Section 504 Initial Evaluation & Periodic Re-Evaluation form A Section 504 Plan, if applicable Ensure 504 Parental Rights have been provided to the parent, guardian, or adult student.

20 What is Substantially Limits?
“Substantially Limits” is not clearly defined. The decision must be made on a case by case basis by a school team. Teams should err on the side of inclusion/eligibility. A disability is not substantially limiting if the student is as successful as typically developing students in the major life activity. A disability may be considered substantially limiting if it prevents the student from participating in the same activities as other students.

21 Don’t Forget: Mitigating Measures
School districts must consider “mitigating measures” used by a student in determining whether the student has a disability under Section 504. Mitigating measures are devices or practices that a person uses to correct for or reduce the effects of that person’s mental or physical impairment. Examples include corrective eyeglasses and medications. A person who experiences no substantial limitation in any major life activity when using a mitigating measure does not meet the definition of a person with a disability and would not necessarily require accommodations under Section 504. However, if a student’s needs require storage and administration of medication during the school day, such accommodations may be required for purposes of providing access to school activities (IHP)

22 Section 504 Referral Process
Step 3 – Accommodations Plan (if eligible) Develops the accommodation plan, that includes statewide testing accommodations. The accommodations provided should allow for the child to have the same equal access as their non-disabled peers. Do not treat accommodations like a buffet.

23 Step 4 – After the Meeting
Meet with school staff who interact with the student and provide them with a copy of the accommodations plan. (Remind them of Confidentiality) All school staff who will interact with the student must: Receive a copy of the accommodations plan Sign the receipt of accommodations form (This indicates they have received a copy of the accommodations/actions and will provided what is necessary to meet the student’s needs. This will also serve as an additional form of documentation.)

24 504 Files 504 Coordinators will maintain a 504 file for each student. This file should contain all forms, data, receipt of accommodations form, and reports. A copy of the most recent 504 Plan/evaluation/reevaluation needs to be sent to Zenobia Ealy. (fax)

25 Manifestation Procedures
Students with Section 504 plans also require manifestation determination meetings. All of these procedures apply except students with 504 plans do not qualify for AES services. If the behavior/incident is not a manifestation of the disability, appropriate disciplinary action can proceed and the student can be treated like any other non-disabled student. If the behavior/incident IS a found to be related to the disability, and the student will be over the 10 allowed days, the school may not discontinue educational services. This means that the student MUST be returned to the regular education program in which he/she was enrolled. In addition, a re-evaluation MUST be initiated to determine the need for additional accommodations under Section 504 (including a behavior plan) or evaluation for eligibility under IDEA. Current drug and alcohol use/sale automatically cancels 504 protections.

26 What do I need to do NOW? Meet with the 504 Coordinator in your building from last year Obtain all student files Review the list of students to ensure you have the files for all students in your building. Review the 504 plans to ensure you understand the needs of the students Meet with staff members who interact with students and provide them a copy of the accommodations plan. Also have them sign a receipt of accommodations form. Should have taken place prior to school starting

27 Annual Review/Reevaluation
Suggested Timeline All students with 504 Plans will have an annual review each year before the end of the first 9th weeks. Students who are 504 eligible had ever-changing needs and requirements and plans should be modified based on those needs. Changes (even if minor) document that the case has been reviewed and the student’s needs have been considered by the 504 team.

28 What Do I Need to Do . . .

29 Transfers Into the District
If a student has recently received, or is suspected of having recently received, Section 504 support out-of-district, then a referral for Section 504 services must be initiated. Pending the completion of an evaluation and final determination of the student’s need for an annual Section 504 Accommodation Plan, interim Section 504 services may need to be implemented for the student.

30 Transfers Step 1: Acquire all 504 records from previous school district Step 2: Hold Interim Planning Meeting to determine: (a) whether the student has an identified physical or mental impairment; (b) whether the student’s out-of-district accommodations are consistent with federal and district Section 504 standards, appropriate and sufficient, and can be implemented as written in this district; and (c) whether additional evaluation components need to be completed Team can determine to implement the out-of-district 504 Accommodation Plan as written (complete district evaluation summary and accommodation plan) Team can determine to modify the out-of-district 504 Accommodation Plan (complete the district evaluation summary and accommodation plan) Step 3: Within 30 calendar days, determine district/school eligibility (based on current data) Requires completion of evaluation summary/determination and accommodation plan

31 Reevaluations Prior to making any significant changes in a student’s accommodation plan or educational placement, a Section 504 reevaluation must be conducted to determine the student's educational needs. Significant changes also include “exiting.” Forms/Documentation: Notification of Meeting (with procedural safeguards) Evaluation/Reevaluation Form 504 Plan (if determined continued eligibility)

32 No Longer Eligible A student may only be exited from Section 504 support under the following circumstances: (a) a temporary impairment, which had educational implications for the student (e.g., injuries sustained in an accident), is no longer present, (b) the student's disability no longer substantially limits his/her major life activities, or (c) the student has been identified as eligible for receiving special education and related services. Sufficient documentation is required to complete the exiting process. See process for “reevaluation” to exit the child

33 Needs more than a 504 Plan If the student’s needs are so extreme as to require special education and related services, a referral to special education must be considered. A 504 accommodation plan should not be developed at this time. Remember a 504 Accommodation plan is the provision of a FAPE. If services under IDEA are needed to provide a FAPE, then a FAPE cannot be lessened to what a 504 can provide.

34 Grievance Step 1: Voluntary Grievance Review at the Building Level.
File a written complaint with the site 504 Facilitator and/or Principal detailing disagreement and request that the 504 team review the plan in an attempt to resolve the disagreement. The complaint shall be handled promptly, allowing no more than five working days to elapse before a written response is made by the 504 Coordinator or Head Administrator and presented or mailed to the person who issued the complaint.

35 Grievance Continued *Step 2: Grievance to the District’s 504 Compliance Officer *Step 3: Request Impartial Due Process Hearing *Step 4: File a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights *Although complainants are always encouraged to attempt to resolve concerns by other dispute alternatives, a complainant’s request for a grievance review under Steps 1 and 2, above, is optional and is not required before requesting an Impartial Hearing or before filing a formal complaint with the Office of Civil Rights

36 Questions? Robert Compton, 504 Compliance Officer
South Carolina Public Charter School District 3710 Landmark Drive, Suite 201 Columbia, SC 29204 (o) (c) (fax)

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