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Questions & Answers

Where does the process start?

A student can be referred for a Section 504 by a parent, teacher, administrator and/or knowledgeable individuals who are familiar of the student and his/her suspected disability. When a student has not responded positively to research-based interventions in an intervention plan and/or has a suspected disability, the Section 504 team may determine that the student qualifies for a Section 504 plan.

Who makes up a Section 504 Team?

Responsibility for considering and developing a Section 504 plan consists of a core group that may include the school administrator, referring adult, teachers, school counselor, social worker, school nurse and parent(s) and the school 504 chairperson. There must be at least three adults in the Section 504 Team. The team must be familiar with the student in question.

Is Section 504 funded like other federal programs?

No. There is no federal or State funding provided to assist in complying with Section 504. All costs are the obligation of the general school district budget.

What are the requirements for Preschool, Elementary, Middle and Secondary Education?

Preschool, elementary, middle and secondary programs must take into account the needs of qualified persons with disabilities in determining the aid, benefits, or services to be provided under these programs or activities. Wayne County Public Schools must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities who are eligible under Section 504. For any student suspected of having a qualifying disability, a referral for identification should be made at the school level. The school 504 Team, including the parent(s), will meet to determine if the student qualifies for a Section 504 plan. If the student qualifies for a Section 504 plan, the educational services provided to the students with disabilities must be equivalent to the services provided to students without disabilities.

What is the responsibility of Section 504?

Section 504 falls under the management responsibility of general education. The school staff and parents should collaborate to help guarantee that students are provided with necessary accommodations and/or modifications in the classroom setting.

What is FAPE?

Section 504/ADA requires the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for students who are identified as having a disability.

The provision of an appropriate education is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that (i) are designed to meet individual needs of disabled persons as adequately as the needs of nondisabled persons are met and (ii) are based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the requirements of 104.34 (LRE), 104.35 (evaluation), 104.36 (procedural safeguards).

How does Section 504 relate to other relevant laws?

ADA- The ADA is federal law which provides civil rights protections to all individuals with impairments in our society similar to those provided to individuals on the bases of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services and telecommunications.

Section 504 – While Congress intended Section 504 to be consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 is more encompassing. Section 504 could cover students, parents, employees and other individuals with impairments. The Section 504 definition of an impairment is much broader, including any physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. One or more major life activity may include the following: learning, controlling one’s behavior, walking, sitting, reading, forming social relationships, concentrating, speaking, caring for oneself, performing manual task, hearing, seeing, working, breathing, eating, lifting, standing, bending, sleeping, communicating or thinking.

For public schools, Section 504 covers all students who meet this definition, even if they do not fall within an IDEA disability category. Students who qualify for Section 504 services do not automatically qualify for special education under IDEA. The identification for Section 504 services must be based upon documented evidence conducted by the school’s 504 team who are knowledgeable about the student.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)- This law defines eligible students as those having certain specific types of disabilities and who, because of those conditions, need special education (specially-designed instruction) and related services in to benefit from their education provided through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

How is a student identified for a Section 504?

Wayne County Public Schools follows the evaluation criteria for a student to receive accommodations or services under Section 504.

A person may be considered disabled under the definition of Section 504 if the individual has been evaluated and has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities.

One or more major life activity may include the following: learning, controlling one’s behavior, walking, sitting, reading, forming social relationships, concentrating, speaking, caring for oneself, performing manual task, hearing, seeing, working, breathing, eating, lifting, standing, bending, sleeping, communicating or thinking.

Has a record of such an impairment.
Is regarded as having such an impairment

What is the definition of Impairment and Disability according to Section 504?

There is a distinction between an “impairment” and a “disability.” The difference lies in the effect the impairment has on the person. If the impairment causes a “substantial limitation” of a “major life activity” then the person has a “disability.” If the impairment does not “substantially limit” the person, then it is just and impairment, not a disability.

How is “Substantial Limitation” determined for a Section 504?

The determination of substantial limitation must be made on a case-by-case basis with respect to each individual students. Wayne County Public Schools follows the Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35(c) requiring a group of knowledgeable persons draw upon information from a variety of sources in making a Section 504 determination. The term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendment Act of 2008. 42 U.S.C. 12102(4)(a)(4(B).

How does “Mitigation Measures” affect the determination of a Section 504 for a student?

The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the effects of mitigating measures such as:

Medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices(which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies

Use of assistive technology

Reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services

Learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications. 42 U.S.C. 12102(4)(a)(4)(E)(i).

Under the 2009 ADAA, students are disabled under Section 504 if they have a physical or mental impairment that would substantially limit then in a major life activity IF THEY WERE NOT taking advantage of mitigating measures.

What is the definition of Temporary Impairments under Section 504?

A temporary 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 major life activities for an extended period of time. The issue of whether a temporary impairment is substantial enough to be a disability must be resolved on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration both the duration and expected duration of the impairment and the extent to which it actually limits a major life activity of the affected individual.
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