Section 504‎ > ‎

Process For Determination

The Wachusett Regional School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation or disbility, in the operation of the educational programs, activities or employment policies, and no person will be excluded from or discriminated against in the admission to its poublic schools, or in obtaining advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public schools on account of race, color, sex, religion, age, mational origin, sexual orientation or disability.

Section 504 is a federal non-discrimination statue that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. 
"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability...shall, solely by reason of her or his 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...."   29 U.S.C. 794(a)

Definitions:
504 - protects all disabled students or employees, defined as having any physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities, including learning, but it is not an aspect of special education. The intent is to provide reasonable accommodations in order to achieve Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Regular educators are responsible for its implementation within systems. The Bureau of Special Education Appeals or OCR are the agencies charged with enforcement responsibility.

504 FAPE  -  Educational sevices that ensure that a student is not subjected to discrimination and is afforded equal access to education. (level the playing field)

Individual with a disability under Section 504  -  
a.  has a physical or mental impairment which significantly limits one or more major life activities
b.  has a record of such an impairment
c.  is regarded as having such an impairment

Significantly limits  -  An impairment is a disability within the meaning of this section if it "significantly limits" the ability of an individual to perfrom a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population. An impairment need not prevent, or significantly or severely restrict, the individual from performing a major life activity in order to be considered a disability.

Major life activity  -  Functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning and working.

Eligibility  -  Though every student with a disability is protected from active discrimination on the basis of disability, not every student with a disability is necessarily eligible for a 504 FAPE Plan. Rather, a student with a disability is eligible for 504 FAPE only if srvices are required to meet the student's educational needs as adequately as the educational needs of nondisabled students are met.

504 FAPE "Evaluation" Provisions  -  A school district is required to conduct a 504 FAPE "evaluation" (which may or may not consist of formal evaluation measures) of any student who needs or is believed to need special education or related services before it takes any action with respect to "placement" under Section 504. The evaluation can consist of any or all of the following: administrator / teacher observations, attendance records, discipline records, cumulative record, grade reports, physician reports, parent information, plan of action from the student support team, and any formal testing that has been conducted.

Referral for 504 determination: (accepted from parents, professional staff, students, and /or community agencies)
1. documentation of a physical or mental impairment which may significantly limit one or more major life    
   activities
2. documentation of the outcome of intervention strategies recommended by the school based support team
3. completion of a 504 referral form to accompany above mentioned documentation

Eligibility and Implementation: The team, minimally, an administrator or 504 coordinator, a counselor or psychologist, a teacher/s representing the student's academic areas of the greatest difficulty, the parent (not required bur preferred meets and analyzes the evaluation data to determine if the individual has a mental or physical impairment which "significantly limits a major life activity."
a.  If the student is determined to be eligible, the team will write a 504 Accommodation Plan with a list of 
     accommodations that will specifically target the impairment and allow the student to have equal access to the
     curriculum as the non-disabled student does.
b.  In some instances, a student meets the definition of disability, however, the disability does not impair his/her
     major life function in school. Under these circumstances, the 504 team may find the student eligible under 
     Section 504, but ineligible for a 504 Plan.

If the team determines that the student is eligible for a 504 Plan based on the evaluations and the various sources that were available at the meeting, the team will develop a plan that includes accommodations that will support the students in reducing the mimitations that impact his/her life activities.

The 504 team will review each 504 Accommodation Plan at least once a year to determine its effectiveness. Accommodations in the plan may be adjusted according to the evaluation data (see above) so that the student can have equal access to the curriculum and instruction as any other student that is considered non-disabled. If it is determined that a 504 Accommodation Plan will be terminated, a letter notifying the parent of the termination decision will be sent to the parent

The 504 team should reconvene three (3) months after a 504 Plan has been terminated to follow-up on the student's progress and to take further action if it is warranted.                                            reviewed and updated 8/9/16

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