Section 504: Policies

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Legacy Traditional School complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by identifying, evaluating, and accommodating students with disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 is a civil rights statute, intended to eliminate obstacles to full educational participation by students with disabilities. The goal of Section 504 is the equal educational opportunity for all students.

Section 504 requires that [n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United Statesshall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. See 20 U.S.C. 794(a).

Definition: Eligible Student

In order to be qualified for assistance under Section 504, the student must be between the ages of three (3) and twenty-one (21) years of age and meet the definition of handicapped.

A student is handicapped if he/she:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  2. has a record of such impairment, or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment. [34 CFR 104.3(j)]

Definition: Physical or Mental Impairment

A physical or mental impairment means (A) a 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; hermic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine; or (B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities. [34 CFR 104.3(i)]

Definition: Substantially Limits

Section 504 regulations do not define substantially limits, but has stated that the determination must be made on an individual basis.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides three factors to characterize the term substantially limits:

  • Nature and severity of the impairment
  • Duration or expected duration of the impairment
  • Permanent, long-term impact or expected impact of the impairment

The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures. These include medication, medical supplies, equipment or appliances, low-vision devices, prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies. Further you cannot consider the use of assistive technology, reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids or services, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications. Ordinary eyeglasses and contact lenses are not included in this provision. [ADA II-2.4000]

Definition: Major Life Activity

Major Life Activities are functions such as caring for ones self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Major life activities can also include major bodily functions such as immune system function, bowel function, neurological function, circulatory function, normal cell growth, bladder function, respiratory function, endocrine function, digestive function, brain function, and reproductive function. [34 CFR 104.3(ii)] It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all potential major life activities.

Definition: 504 Multidisciplinary Team

Evaluations are completed by a group of people, and will include the following: persons knowledgeable about the student, persons knowledgeable about the placement options, and persons able to interpret the meaning of evaluation data. [34 CFR 1404.35(c)].

Referrals

Any parent, guardian, teacher, counselor, or other school staff member who believes a student may need accommodations for a qualified mental or physical impairment can request an evaluation for 504 eligibility. The School must have parental consent before conducting an evaluation.

Eligibility Determination Process

The decision to qualify a student for 504 services is made by a multidisciplinary team, including individuals knowledgeable about the student and the placement options. This team may include parents, guardians, teachers, school psychologists, administrators, and others as determined by the referral for eligibility consideration. The family may also invite any relevant outside person(s).

In addition to the information provided by the parents, the following information may be reviewed at the meeting:

  • Standardized achievement tests
  • Medical information including hearing, vision, medications, and any relevant developmental history
  • Academic grades and transcripts
  • Primary language (home and student)
  • Discipline records
  • Attendance
  • School history
  • Teacher reports/observations

Evaluations under Section 504 are not limited to formal evaluation instruments. Because the disabilities that may fall under Section 504 are broader than the specific disabilities listed in IDEA, evaluative information for a student may come from a number of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, the students physical condition, the students social or cultural background, or the students adaptive behavior.

Evaluations are completed by a group of people, and will include the following: persons knowledgeable about the student, persons knowledgeable about the placement options, and persons able to interpret the meaning of evaluation data. [34 CFR 1404.35(c)].

After reviewing the relevant information, the team will determine whether the student is a student with a disability that significantly impacts a major life activity. In order to be eligible to receive legal protections under 504, the students ability to perform a major life activity, must be substantially limited and the definition of substantially limited must be more broadly construed and generally applied than severely restricted. The purpose of 504, as stated by Congress, is to provide broad coverage of individuals under this Act, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this Act. Notwithstanding, the fact that a student has a diagnosed physical or mental impairment does not automatically mean s/he will qualify for an accommodation plan under 504.

If the team determines that the student is eligible for 504 protections, the team will develop a Section 504 Accommodation Plan.

504 Accommodation Plans

The 504 Multidisciplinary Team determines what accommodations are needed to achieve equality/comparability of access to educational activities for the student with a disability. In addition to the normal and usual academic and school activities, students must also be given the opportunity to participate in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities, such as recreational and athletic activities, and school-sponsored clubs, events and activities. Participation in such non-academic activities may require accommodations. 34 CFR 104.34(b)]

The accommodations for the student are documented in the Section 504 Accommodation Plan.

Implementation

All of the professional staff who work with the student will have access to a copy of the students Section 504 Accommodation Plan. Paraprofessional staff who work with the student should also be thoroughly familiar with any accommodations that the student requires to receive an appropriate education. Staff shall implement the Section 504 Accommodation Plan fully and in a timely manner in alignment with the plans initiation date.

Accommodation Plan Review

On a periodic basis, the team will reconvene to review the plan. At the meeting, the following questions will be asked:

  • Is the student still eligible for a 504 plan?
  • Is there new information that needs to be considered?
  • Are the current accommodations working?
  • Do any changes need to be made to the plan?

Based on the answers to the above questions, the team may decide to continue the same 504 plan, make changes to the plan, or discontinue the plan because the student is no longer eligible.

Re-evaluation

Before any significant change in placement, including long-term suspensions and expulsions, a reevaluation must be completed along with notice to parents. A reevaluation of the students disability status must also be conducted every three years or more often, if needed.

Discipline

Some disciplinary procedures which apply to students with disabilities under IDEA also apply to 504 students. A Manifestation Determination must take place when 10 days of suspension have been assigned to a student, either cumulative or consecutive, in a school year. In the Manifestation Determination, the 504 Multidisciplinary Team must determine if the behavior that violated the school discipline code is related to the students physical or mental impairment.

If the team determines that the behavior is caused by the disability, the Team should review the students Accommodation Plan, Behavior Plan, and placement to determine if they were appropriate and were being implemented as written. If they are no longer appropriate, some or all of these documents must be revised to ensure that they remain appropriate to the students needs. If they were not implemented appropriately, this must be corrected immediately. The Team may also want to consider if any other changes need to be made to better meet the needs of the student. It is also important for the Team to decide if the student needs a Functional Behavior Assessment or a Behavior Plan, if one is not already in place.

The School may discipline a student with a disability under 504 who is currently using illegal drugs or alcohol to the same extent as action taken against non-disabled students. In such cases, 504 due process procedures, namely evaluation and manifestation determination, are not required. Special procedures also apply in the discipline of students with disabilities for possession of firearms.

When the discipline consequences that a student is to receive would constitute a change of placement (i.e., 10 days of suspension, either consecutive or cumulative, in one school year, long-term suspension, or expulsion), whether or not a manifestation determination is conducted, the 504 Multidisciplinary Team is required to conduct an evaluation of the students needs and the appropriateness of his current accommodation plan. In most cases, this will be accomplished by the plan review process described above in this section. Students with disabilities under 504 who have been expelled do not have to be provided with educational services following expulsion, and there is no stay put requirement under 504.

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural safeguards include:

  • Notice
  • Opportunity to examine the students relevant records
  • Impartial hearing with the opportunity for participation by the students parents or guardian and representation of counsel
  • A review procedure

Complaints

It is the policy of Legacy Traditional Schools to not discriminate on the basis of disability. The District will investigate complaints and provide for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints that allege any action prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 504 Coordinator will receive written complaints from parents. If school staff or administrators who learn of complaints in other forms, including but not limited to verbal, phone message, or email, they shall notify the 504 Coordinator without delay. Once a complaint has been received, the 504 Coordinator and 504 Compliance Office will study the complaint, conduct an investigation, determine a prompt and equitable resolution, and notify all parties of findings and any necessary correction action.

Examination of Records

Parents or guardians have the right to examine all educational records of the student, including the students 504 records. In general, only those persons with a legitimate educational interest, or need to know, have access to confidential information concerning the students disability and education.

Due Process

504 requires that school districts have a procedure for conducting impartial due process hearings with the opportunity for participation by the students parents or guardian and representation by counsel. Either the parent or the school district may request a hearing.

A due process hearing is a legal procedure, which is conducted by an Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO).

Parents requesting a hearing should submit a written request to the 504 Coordinator and include the following information:

  • The name of the child and the person making the request;
  • The address of the residence of the child;
  • The name of the school that the child is attending;
  • In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)) available contact information for the child, and the name of the school that the child is attending;
  • A description of the nature of the problem relating to alleged discrimination under 504, including facts relating to the problem;
  • A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time;
  • A suitable time for the hearing;
  • Two possible dates for the hearing; and
  • Indication of whether the hearing will be closed or open to the public.

The Impartial Hearing Officer must conduct the due process hearing and render a decision no more than 45 days from the date that the District received the parents request for the hearing. The Impartial Hearing Officer may grant a continuance at the request of one of the parties, if the both parties agree.

During The Hearing

  • Parents and the District may be represented by legal counsel or some other professional who may be knowledgeable about the child (if allowed by the Impartial Hearing Officer).
  • The District and the parents may present evidence, and question and cross-examine witnesses who know about the childs disability.
  • The child may be present at the hearing.
  • After the Impartial Hearing Officer has heard the case, s/he will give a written decision.
  • The Impartial Hearing Officer is impartial, and is not an employee of any school district. S/he will be well trained and understand what the law requires for children with special needs.

After The Hearing

  • The parents will, upon request, receive an audio recording of all that was said at the hearing at no cost to them.
  • A copy of the Impartial Hearing Officers decision will be given to both the District and the parents. The Impartial Hearing Officer must render a decision within 45 days after the Districts receipt of the request for a 504 Due Process Hearing. This can only be delayed if the District and the parents agree to the delay or the Impartial Hearing Officer has granted a continuance at the request of one of the parties.
  • The decision made by the Impartial Hearing Officer is final unless the parents or the District appeal the decision to the appropriate state or federal court.

Amy Sundeeen

504 Coordinator
(602) 689-8954
Maricopa, Casa Grande

Amanda Kekic

504 Coordinator
(602) 689-4218
Chandler, Avondale, Laveen

Sarah Haight

504 Coordinator
(602) 489-9194
Gilbert, Queen Creek, NW Tucson

Amanda Buda

District Special Education Director / 504 Compliance Officer
3201 South Gilbert Rd.
Chandler AZ, 85286
(480) 270-5438