What is 504? The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a one-sentence civil rights law that prohibits agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating against persons with disabilities on the basis of that disability.
What does that mean for schools? Main emphasis in schools is equal educational opportunity, which is mainly accomplished by providing appropriate classroom accommodations to eligible students with disabilities that are not severe enough to qualify for special education, but which are substantially limiting their learning or other major life activities.
Who is considered to have a disability? A person has a disability within the standards of Section 504 if he or she: has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.
What are physical or mental impairments? Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. Some of these are addressed in an IEP; therefore, these students that qualify for special education services do not need a 504. A student will NEVER have an IEP AND a 504! The accommodations that would be made with a 504 are written into an IEP.
What are major life activities? Self-care Manual tasks Walking Seeing Hearing Speaking Breathing Standing Thinking Concentrating Reading Learning Sleeping Working Bending Communicating Reproducing Normal cell growth Immune system function Digestive system Bowel function Bladder function Neurological function Brain function Respiratory function Circulatory function Endocrine function
Do we look at mitigating measures when determining if a student is disabled? The U.S. Supreme Court has said “looking at the act as a whole, it is apparent that if a person is taking measures to correct, or mitigate, a physical or mental impairment, the effects of those measures must be taken into account when judging whether that person is ‘substantially limited’ in a major life activity and thus ‘disabled’ under the act”. So…….this meant that in the past we considered if the student was on medication or used other corrective measures when looking at eligibility. If we had a student with ADHD that was on medication and successful in the classroom, we would NOT have qualified that student as “disabled”; therefore, the student would NOT have been eligible for 504 Services. BUT………..all that has changed……
New ADA Amendments Act of 2008 The new act overturns the Supreme Court decision to consider mitigating measures. The law now states that when making a determination about whether an impairment meets the definition of a disability, is should be done “without regard to the positive effects of mitigating measures,” which include: Medication; Medical devices; Equipment or appliances; Low-vision devices ( which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses); Prosthetics including limbs and devices; Hearing aids, cochlear implants and other implantable hearing devices; Mobility devices; Oxygen therapy equipment and devices; Assistive technology; Reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services; and Learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
And again….what does this mean for schools? Get ready for a lot of 504 meetings!!!
What is a 504 accommodation plan? The 504 accommodation plan describes the accommodations that must be implemented to guarantee that the disabled student has equal access to educational opportunities. The plan is developed by the 504 team when a student is determined to meet the classification as a qualified disabled individual under Section 504 standards and is deemed to need an accommodation plan to address specific needs.
Can a student qualify as being disabled but not qualify for an accommodation plan? Students may qualify as being disabled under the 504 standards BUT may be able to function in the school setting without limitations; thus, the student would not be eligible for an accommodation plan but will need to be monitored to make sure the student continues to be successful. A health plan is written to address dietary and medical needs for students that may not need an accommodation plan. YES
What are the limitations of a 504 accommodation plan? A 504 plan does not address issues of placement nor does it prescribe services. A 504 plan does not modify curriculum or standards……….
NOT the disability the standards Accommodate Modify
The 504 Process Step 1 Identify students that may have disabilities. Who is responsible? Administrators, Teachers and Staff In most cases, parents will contact school to request 504 meeting. It is the school’s responsibility to identify a student that may have a disability. This is part of the Child Find law that also pertains to Special Education. If you have a student and you know that he/she has a diagnosis and is on medication, you must report that information to your building 504 coordinator for further review.
Step 2 Parent must complete medical release. Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator The school can not move forward without a release from the guardian. If the building coordinator can not get a release signed, the case should be turned over to the county-wide coordinator for assistance.
Step 3 Fax medical release and questionaire to physician for medical diagnosis and recommendations. Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator There is a specific form that we use that asks physicians to identify condition and limitations to school performance. It also asks for recommendations, but it is important to remember that the 504 Team determines what accommodations are appropriate for the specific school setting, not the physician.
Step 4 Collect pertinent student information for review – attendance records, discipline records, test scores, teacher observation, and samples of student work. Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator, Teachers and Attendance Secretary Without this information, the 504 team can not write an effective accommodation plan for the student. It is a teacher’s responsibility to cooperate with the building coordinator to share accurate, viable information and assist in the process.
Step 5 Schedule eligibility meeting. Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator Contact parent and schedule meeting to discuss all information to determine eligibility status. The meeting should include the building coordinator, the designated 504 Team, and the teacher(s) that currently has the student. If the meeting is being held to determine future placement, the teacher of the new placement should be included in the meeting. For example, if the meeting is being held at the end of the year to discuss accommodations for the following year, the administrator should go ahead and assign the student to a teacher for the following year and include that teacher in the meeting.
Step 6 Eligibility Meeting Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator, 504 Team, and Teachers At the meeting, the 504 team will consider all data to determine whether the student is disabled according to 504 standards. If the team determines the student is disabled according to 504 standards, the team will then determine if the student needs an accommodation plan and/or health plan to address concerns. The accommodation plan and/or healthplan are written if it is determined that they are deemed necessary for the educational success for the student.
Step 7 Distribution of Information Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator 504 building coordinator will distribute the 504 Eligibility Report and Accommodation Plan / Health Plan to all teachers and staff that work with the student.
Step 8 Annual Review Who is responsible? 504 Building Coordinator and 504 Team Although a 504 plan is legal for up to three years, our policy is to review every 504 Accommodation Plan annually. This is done to ensure that we have the most updated medical information for our students. The process will start all over, but the previous plan will remain in place until the new meeting is held and the accommodation plan can be amended.
What if it is not working? If the student is not being successful and the teacher IS following ALL accommodations in the plan, then the teacher needs to contact the building coordinator to schedule a review of the plan. There can be many meetings a year to address the student’s needs. Do not feel as though you have to wait until the annual meeting to make changes to the plan. This can happen at anytime necessary.
IT is the LAW! As a teacher, you are required to follow ALL accommodations on the plan. If you have an issue with an accommodation, you must take your concerns to the building coordinator for discussion. You can add accommodations you feel would be beneficial in your class, but you can not deny any that are on the plan. You are required to follow all accommodations until the plan is amended.
504 Building Coordinators BRES – Kim Turner HMMS – Dave Burk LES – Sonja Saylor MES – Lisa Carter SCES – Bryan Shoffner UCHS – Chris Robbins