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Special Services - 504

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Wenonah School District provides you, as the parent or guardian, with the following procedural safeguards in relation to your child.
Section 504 is a federal law which protects the rights of persons with qualifying disabilities.  It requires that recipients of federal funds make their programs and activities accessible to all persons with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 protects persons from discrimination based upon their disability status.  A person is considered to have a disability within the definition of Section 504 if he or she:
  • has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities;
  • has a record of such impairments; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.
In general terms, this means that without modifications and/or interventions, the student would not  have a comparable opportunity to an appropriate education.
A free appropriate education is one provided by the public school that (1) is designed to meet the individual educational needs of persons with a disability as adequately as the needs are met of persons without disabilities, and (2) is based upon adherence to evaluation, placement and procedural safeguard requirements.
“Major life activities” include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.  When a condition does not substantially limit a major life activity, the person does not qualify under Section 504.
School staff might consider possible 504 evaluations for students diagnosed as having HIV, drug rehabilitation, Tourette’s Syndrome, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), depression, heart malfunctions, communicable diseases, urinary conditions, blood disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, school phobia, respiratory conditions, blood/sugar disorders, post-traumatic disorders, pregnancy (with health issues that affect ability to learn), epilepsy, cancer, repetitive motion syndrome, birth defects, tuberculosis, and children placed in psychiatric facilities by their parents, etc.  This list is not all-inclusive.
If there is reason to believe that, because of a qualifying disability, a student needs accommodations, the school district must accurately assess the nature and extent of the disability, its effect on major life activities and recommended services, and develop and implement an accommodation plan for the delivery of any needed services.  Requirements for the Section 504 evaluation and placement process are determined by the type of disability believed to be present and the type of services the student may need.  
In assessing whether a student is eligible for accommodations under a Section 504 qualifying disability, information should be gathered from multiple sources to better understand the difficulty and needs of the student.  Relevant information could include:
  • information gathered from school records, observations, interviews, medical or hospital records, rating scales, permanent products that the student has produced and curriculum-based measurement probes.
  • interviews with the student’s teacher(s), parents and medical or mental health professionals who have evaluated the student.
  • educational records and permanent products such as standardized test scores, attendance records, disciplinary records, hearing or vision screening results, samples of daily work.
  • direct observations of the student.
Understanding how a student functions in different settings can be important in formulating ideas for accommodations and services.  Critical to the determination is that a condition be present across several settings.
Only when the disability substantially limits the student in a major life activity are they considered eligible under Section 504 for accommodation.
An evaluation is also required prior to any significant change in placement.  Re-evaluations must also be conducted on a “periodic basis.”  It is recommended, but not required, that the re-evaluation be conducted every three years, the same as special education requirements.
An appropriate education for students eligible under Section 504 may consist of education in general education classes with the needed accommodations being made and/or the use of supplementary services/programs designed to meet the unique needs of a particular student.
Adjustments in academic requirements and expectations may be necessary to accommodate the needs of an individual student with a disability to enable him/her to participate in the general education program.
  • Accommodations must be individualized.
  • Accommodations should be designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of other students are met.
  • Modifications can be made to general education programs or the provision of different program may be necessary.
Section 504 requires a plan describing placement and services, commonly referred to as an accommodation plan.  Placement decisions must be based upon information drawn from a variety of sources and all information must be documented as considered.  Although a formal IEP is not required, the eligibility and accommodation decision must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the child, the disability, the meaning of the evaluation data, and about placement options.
While parental consent is not mentioned in Section 504, it is preferable to seek parental support for the evaluation of the student, as well as for implementation of the accommodation plan.
As a parent, you have the right to:
  • examine, copy and request amendments to the student’s educational record;
  • participation of your child in school district programs and activities, including extracurricular programs and activities, to the maximum extent appropriate, free of discrimination based upon the student’s disability and at the same level as students without disabilities;
  • a receipt of free educational services to the extent they are provided to students without disabilities;
  • receipt of information about your child and your child’s educational programs and activities in your native language;
  • notice of identification of your child as having a qualifying disability for which accommodations may need to be made;
  • notice prior to evaluation and placement of your child;
  • periodically request a re-evaluation of your child;
  • inspect and review your child’s educational records including a right to copy those records for a reasonable fee; you also have a right to ask the school district to amend your child’s educational records if you feel the information in the records is misleading or inaccurate; should the school district refuse to amend the records, you have a right to a hearing and to place an explanatory letter in your child’s file explaining why you feel the records are misleading or inaccurate;
  • hearing before an impartial hearing officer if you disagree with your child’s evaluation or placement; you have a right to counsel at the hearing and have the decision of the impartial hearing officer reviewed. (OCR website: )
  • an impartial hearing regarding the school district’s decisions;
  • a further review of the impartial hearing officer’s decision