Workshop Organization - Defining Section 504 - A school’s obligations under Section 504 - Qualifying for Section 504 - Services available under Section 504 -Section 504 comparison with IDEA -Section 504 and college/work - Procedural Safeguards
What is Section 504? Part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 National civil rights law Grants equal access to qualified persons with disabilities to all programs and activities receiving federal funding
What Section 504 Says… “No qualified person with a disability shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal assistance.” Section 504(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
What does Section 504 mean for kids with disabilities in school? Almost all public schools receive federal funding. Section 504 is often used in school to ensure that kids with disabilities can fully participate just like kids without disabilities. * Each year districts are required to sign a document that they are in compliance with Section 504.
Under Section 504, a school district cannot: Discriminate on the basis of disability Deny accommodations and modifications Deny access to programs, facilities or services Provide programs or services that are not “equal”
Under Section 504, a school district also cannot: Provide programs or services which aren’t as effective as programs or services for students without disabilities Provide different or separate services (unless necessary to provide equal opportunity)
Schools Must… HAVE IN PLACE: A written assurance of non- discrimination in student/parent handbook A designated 504 Coordinator Grievance procedures to resolve complaints DO THE FOLLOWING: Provide parent/guardian with procedural safeguards Annually identify & locate all students with disabilities
Children are eligible for protection under Section 504 if: 1.They have a physical or mental impairment, (or record of an impairment, or are regarded as having an impairment), which 2. Substantially limits one or more major life activities.
1 st Requirement: Impairment -have a physical or mental impairment OR - record of an impairment OR -are regarded as having an impairment
2 nd Requirement: Substantially Limit” Substantial is not defined in Section 504 **Key question to remember: Does the student have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from his / her education compared to non-disabled peers?
2 nd Requirement: “Major life activities” Walking Seeing Hearing Speaking Breathing Learning Working Caring for one’s self Performing manual tasks
How are Kids Identified & Evaluated under Section 504? Identify: Any child who needs, or is believed to need, special accommodations, related services or programs under Section 504 may be referred to the Section 504 Committee for evaluation. Evaluate: Similar evaluation requirements as IDEA
For evaluations, districts must: Establish standards & procedures Conduct evals before initial placement & do periodic re-evaluations Assess all areas of need Make evals non-discriminatory Administer them by trained personnel Use of a multidisciplinary team Use info from a variety of sources (aptitude & achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social & cultural background, adaptive behavior)
Determinations The student’s parents shall be notified of an upcoming Section 504 Committee meeting at least 10 days prior to the meeting and invited to participate in it. The Committee will determine whether the student is disabled under Section 504
Section 504 Accommodation Plan If the child qualifies under 504, a written educational plan is developed which describes what accommodations, services or programs will be provided to meet the student’s needs.
FAPE & Section 504 A public school is required to provide FAPE (free & appropriate public education) to each child that qualifies under Section 504. FAPE can include regular education, special education, and related aids & services.
Services under Section 504 Services must be individually designed & provided so they meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. Services should be designed so that students with disabilities have the same access to all programs as students without disabilities.
Examples of Modifications & Accommodations: Modifying Teaching Strategies Adjusted test procedures Individualized homework assignments Calculator, computer, tape recorder, word processor/AlphaSmart Teaching at student’s instructional level Pairing verbal & visual directions Assignment notebook/other personal organization system
More Examples… Modifying Health & Safety Procedures Administer meds Special diets Plan for emergency needs Elevator key Staff training Transportation
Examples of Related Services Physical therapy Counseling Assistive technology Speech & language
Civil rights law No federal $$$ No consent required No labels Evaluations “Periodic” re-eval FAPE 504 Plan Placement/LRE Discipline Educational Law Federal/State $$$ Consent required Labels of disability Evaluations Re-eval every 3 yrs. FAPE IEP Placement/LRE Discipline SECTION 504IDEA SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON
Section 504 & Life After High School… Once a student exits high school either by graduating or aging out, IDEA no longer applies. Only Section 504 is available at college or in the workplace.
Entitlement vs. Eligibility Entitlement (high school/IDEA) = You have a right by law to services or programs. If a student has an IEP, they are “entitled” to the services in their IEP. Eligibility (college, work/Section 504) = You must meet certain requirements in order to receive services or participate in programs. Services and accommodations are not a given.
Section 504 & college students The ADA gives college students the right to have equal access to: –Courses, Programs & Activities –Services –Jobs –Facilities The ADA gives college students the right to have equal opportunity to: –Work and Learn –Receive reasonable, effective and appropriate accommodations and modifications
Section 504 & the world of work Employers can’t refuse to hire or promote because of a disability – as long as you are qualified for the job. Employers can ask about your ability to perform a job, but prior to offering you a job they cannot inquire if you have a disability. Employers need to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities. Employers do not need to provide accommodations that impose an undue hardship on business operations.
Remember… There are no IEP’s in college or in the workplace. The only way to get accommodations, is to ask! Self-advocacy skills are critical.
Procedural Safeguards A child with a disability that is under an IEP has more protections and remedies than a child under a 504 Plan. District is required to have written procedures for resolving conflicts with Section 504. Ask the Section 504 Compliance Person at the District for a copy.
What can you do if there is a problem? 1.Section 504 requires districts to conduct impartial hearings for parents who disagree with identification, evaluation, or placement. 2.File a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. For more info and to obtain a complaint form. http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/qa- complaints.html 3.Pursue legal action in Federal Court.
Contacting the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) The regional OCR office that oversees Wisconsin is located in Chicago, Illinois. Office of Civil Rights US Department of Education 111 N. Canal Street, Suite 1053 Chicago, IL 60606-7204 312-886-8434 TDD: 312-353-2540 OCR_Chicago@ed.gov