Parent Overview of 504 & Frequently Asked Questions
SECTION 504 PROCEDURES FOR COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education. The Columbia Missouri Public School District is a recipient of federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education and, therefore, is covered by Section 504.
Parent and Students Rights Under Section 504: Section 504 Procedural Safeguards
Section 504 Compliance Manual: Section 504/Title II Compliance Manual
Parent/Guardian/18-Year-Old Student Notification to Audio Record Section 504 Meeting: For more information related to the process, please review the following link: Frequently Asked Questions Related to Audio Recording Meetings
Frequently asked Questions:
How does Section 504 work in schools?
Section 504 requires schools to meet the needs of students with disabilities as well as it meets the needs of non-disabled students and prohibits the school district from discriminating against students with disabilities. In Columbia Public Schools, this is done by writing a plan which details the accommodations and/or modifications legally required for the student with a disability to receive equal access to the educational environment.
Who is covered under Section 504?
In the public school system, any student that is 3-21 years of age and has a qualifying disability is covered under Section 504.
What does “disability” mean under Section 504?
A disability is any physical or mental condition that substantially limits a “major life activity.” Major life activities include but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating or working. A major life activity may also include the operation of a major bodily function including functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive.
Who can refer a child for consideration for evaluation under Section 504?
Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504. The key to referral is whether the school district staff suspects that the child is suffering from a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and is in need of either regular education with accommodations and/or modifications or special education and related services.
What information is used in doing an evaluation under Section 504?
Under Section 504, no formalized testing is required. The 504 team should look at grades, teacher reports, information from parents or other agencies, state assessment scores, discipline records, attendance records, and health information. A single source of information cannot be the only information considered. Schools must be able to assure that all information submitted is documented and considered.
What is a 504 plan?
If a student meets the eligibility criteria AND accommodations and/or modifications are needed, a 504 Plan is written. The 504 plan is an individualized plan created by the team that outlines the student’s disability and needs. The accommodations and/or modifications that are to be implemented to meet the student’s needs are also spelled out. The 504 plan is reviewed on an annual basis by the knowledgeable team but can be reviewed at any time upon request. Every three years, or earlier if necessary, a re-evaluation is held to determine if the student continues to be a student with a disability under Section 504.
Can my child be given a Section 504 plan without my knowledge?
Parents must always be given notice before their child is evaluated and/or given accommodations or modifications under Section 504. Parents must also be given a copy of their child’s Section 504 accommodation plan if the team determines that the child is eligible under Section 504.
What should you bring to a 504 meeting?
As the parent, it is important that you attend the meetings and that you bring any type of information that you want to have the team consider. This would include current grades, medical diagnoses, recent evaluations, or anything else you consider important to the education of your child.