SECTION 504 PROCEDURES
Section 504 is technical in nature and directs all employees as to the minimum actions required to address the needs of the individuals that are protected under this law. Information is provided here to remind each employee of his/her responsibility and the responsibility of each district to establish policies, training and implementation practices that meet these mandates. Each agency with 15 or more employees is required to designate a Section 504 Coordinator. Each employee should be able to identify the Section 504 Coordinator and be familiar with 1) district policy for Section 504 and 2) the district's grievance procedures. The SELPA is available to provide assistance to the district in the development of both policies to meet minimal requirements and to implement best practices with student and parents.
The parent's role under Section 504 procedures is limited, however it is always best practice to consistently communicate with parents and encourage their participation in all meetings. The limitations in the law exist to assure the ability of the employee to implement the law, not to restrict the parent's role. Employees are encouraged to develop relationships with parents that would make them partners in the education of student.
Expectations for best practice include:
Protection under 504
It should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for the purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more of the major life activities. It is also important to note that the impact of the student's disability must be global in nature, affecting all aspects of a major life activity such as learning. Each district policy should address what constitutes a substantial limitation of a major life activity.
An evaluation for Section 504 purposes may include information gathered informally and may include some testing (review of records, teacher/parent/student interviews, etc.) The information typically considered comes from several sources: physician reports, parents, teachers, school records, observations or interviews by school personnel, etc. The Section 504 team/Student Study Team may include the student services director or designee, psychologist, guidance counselor, nurse, teachers, parent, and/or student. Unlike IDEA, Section 504 does not give specific timelines for conducting the evaluation, but the district is expected to conduct any evaluation in a timely manner.
Based upon the information, decisions are made regarding whether or not the student has a temporary or permanent mental or physical impairment that substantially limits his/her learning.
Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD): A student may be eligible for Section 504 if the student is educationally impacted and substantially limited, depending on the severity of the condition. ADD/ADHD is something that does not necessarily have to be diagnosed by a doctor. If a school site team is concerned about a student's attention, they can consult with their school psychologist who has the means to determine if the student does have an attention issue.
If the student is found eligible, a Section 504 plan is developed.
In general, parents are responsible for obtaining medical diagnoses and treatment for their student. When a medical condition is suspected as constituting a significant impairment of the major life activity of learning, school personnel have the responsibility for reviewing the medical diagnostic reports and determining whether or not the medical condition does, in fact, substantially limit learning. If so, the school personnel then have the responsibility for determining what accommodations are needed in a Section 504 plan.
A general education classroom with modified instruction, curriculum accommodations, and/or the use of supplementary materials/equipment, is the appropriate setting for students who are determined disabled under Section 504. Adjustments in academic and/or behavioral (and discipline) requirements and expectations may be necessary to accommodate the needs of individual handicapped students to enable them to participate and benefit from general education program and activities. However, the student is entitled to receive any special education services the Section 504 Team decides are necessary for the student to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
Section 504 requires that schools design an individualized plan to meet the student's needs.
The Section 504 Plan must address the five following areas:
Should the Section 504 team determine a student requires more intense services than can be provided in the general education classroom, written documentation should include:
Summary of Section 504 Procedures
When specific questions regarding Section 504 policies or procedures arise, contact the 504 Coordinator at your school and/or district office.
Key Definitions of Section 504
Physical or mental impairment " (A) 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; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; skin; and endocrine; or (E) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities." (34 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104.3)
Major life activities " functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working." (34 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3)
Has a record of such impairment " has a history of, or has been classified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity." (34 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3)
Regarded as having an impairment "
(A) has a physical or mental
impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but
is treated by a recipient as constituting such a limitation: (E) has a
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities
only as a result of the attitudes of others towards such impairment; or
(C) has one of the impairments defined but is treated by a recipient as
having such an impairment." (34 Code of Federal Regulations Part