Section 504 is federal civil rights law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It provides protection against discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Students in school settings fall under the civil rights protection of Section 504. The law and regulations prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability from all school programs and activities in both public and private schools receiving direct or indirect federal funding. Section 504 accommodations could be available to identified students with disabilities, who qualify for a Section 504 plan. Section 504 is designed to provide equal access and fairness in general education to students with disabilities.
Section 504 plan is a plan to provide fairness and equal access to education. The student must qualify and meet the Section 504 identification criteria. A student is entitled to a Section 504 Plan if they have been identified and the documented evidence shows that the individual has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This determination is made by a team of knowledgeable individuals, including the parents, who are familiar of the student and his/her disability.
Procedure One: Written Assurance
Wayne County Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability.
Procedure Two: Section 504 Coordinator
Wayne County Public Schools 504 district coordinator is Sherry Montague. The contact information is 919-580-3666. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Each school has a designated 504 chairperson who is knowledgeable of the 504 process in Wayne County Public Schools.
Procedure Three: Grievance Procedures
If any person believes that a Wayne County Public School or any of its staff have inadequately applied the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, he/she may initiate a grievance with the school’s Section 504 chairperson and/or Wayne County Public Schools 504 district coordinator. In addition, the person filing the grievance can also make a complaint to the regional office of U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) without going through the Wayne County Public Schools grievance procedure. The grievance procedures are meant to provide for a prompt and equitable resolution of a complaint.
Please refer to Wayne County Public Schools Policy Code: 1730 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities.
Federal Complaint Procedures (Formal)
The complainant may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at any time before, during or after the local grievance procedures. The contact information for the regional office is as follows:
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
(800)421-3481 TTD (877)521-2172
Due process is defined as an opportunity to resolve a dispute between parents and schools over the decisions made and/or procedures used by the school under Section 504. Wayne County Public Schools ensures a Section 504 due process hearing may be called at the request of the school or a parent, guardian, or surrogate parent of the student. Wayne County Public Schools will notify parents or guardians of their right to request a hearing regarding a dispute over the identification, evaluation or educational placement of student with disabilities being served or considered for Section 504.
Procedure Four: General Notice to Students, Parents, Employees and Other Individuals (34 CFR, 104.8)
Wayne County Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, age, or disability in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities.
Any person having inquiries concerning the district’s compliance with the regulations implementing Section 504 is directed to contact the following individual who has been designated by Wayne County Public Schools to coordinate efforts to comply with the regulations regarding nondiscrimination:
Name: Sherry Montague
Title: Wayne County Public Schools District 504 Coordinator
Procedure Five: Child Find (34 CFR, 104.32(a))
Wayne County Public Schools maintains an ongoing program to find unserved children who might qualify for a Section 504. This is known as Child Find.
Procedure Six: Notice to Parents and Individuals with Disabilities (34 CFR, 104.32(b))
Wayne County Public Schools adheres to the programs for Students with Disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit discrimination against persons with a disability in any program receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 defines a person with a disability as anyone who…
Has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sleeping, standing, lifting, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, helping, eating, bending, or operation of a bodily function.
Wayne County Public Schools has the responsibility to provide accommodations and services to eligible individuals with disabilities. Wayne County Public Schools acknowledges its responsibility under Section 504 to avoid discrimination in policies and practices regarding its personnel and students. No discrimination against any person with a disability shall knowingly be permitted in any program or practice in the school.
Procedure Seven: Parent and Student Rights under Section 504 (34 CFR, 103.36)
Wayne County Public Schools recognizes student and parent rights under Section 504. The intent of the law is to keep students and parents fully informed concerning decisions about the student and inform parents of their rights if the parent disagrees with any part of the Section 504 plan. The following are student and parent rights Wayne County Public Schools provides.
•Have your child take part in and receive benefits from public education programs without discrimination based on a disability.
•Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, program or placement of your child.
•Have your child receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This includes the right to be educated with other students to the maximum extent appropriate. It also includes the right to have the school make reasonable accommodations to allow your child an equal opportunity to participate in school and school-related activities.
•Have your child educated in facilities and receive services comparable to those provided for students without disabilities.
•Have evaluation, educational and placement decisions made based upon a variety of information sources and by individuals who know the student, disability, evaluation data and placement options.
•Give your child an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities offered by the school.
•Examine all relevant records relating to decisions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, educational program and placement.
•File a local grievance with your school if you feel your child is being discriminated against because of their disability.
•Request a due process hearing to help resolve issues with the school.
•File a formal complaint with the regional Office for Civil Rights. The office is part of the U.S. Department of Education. The regional office is located at 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-1100.
Procedure Eight: Self-Evaluation (34 CFR, 104.6(b))
Wayne County Public Schools completes a self-evaluation to determine possible discrimination involving a school facilities, programs, activities and policies as a requirement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
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.