Section 504

Sallie Sutherland, Director, x5206

Policy
It is the policy of the Monroe City School System to provide a free appropriate public education to all handicapped students within its jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the handicap.

Students who are handicapped consistent with documented data fulfilling the definitions set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 will be identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate educational accommodations or services.

Due process rights of the handicapped students and their parents under Section 504 will be enforced.

Overview
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are major federal legislative acts that are designed to protect the civil right of individuals with disabilities. Both of these two federal laws prohibit any form of discrimination for persons with disabilities. Section 504 applies to all entities that receive federal funds, while the ADA applies to virtually every entity except churches and private clubs. Included in the U.S. Department of Education regulations for Section 504 is the requirement that disabled students be provided with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). These regulations require identification, evaluation, provision of appropriate services, and procedural safeguards in every public school in the United States.

School districts have an obligation to avoid discrimination in policies and practices regarding their personnel and students under Section 504. NO discrimination of any person with a handicap will knowingly be permitted in any of the programs and practices of the district. School districts have specific responsibilities under the ACT, which include the identification, evaluation, and if the child is determined eligible under Section 504, to afford access to appropriate educational services.


Disability Definitions

A Handicapped person is defined under Section 504 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 706(8)) as any person
  • who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity,
  • who has a record of such an impairment, or
  • who is regarded as having such an impairment.
The phrase “physical or mental impairment” has been defined to include physiological conditions that affect body systems as well as mental or psychological disorders. Some examples include epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, drug addiction, HIV disease (symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, alcoholism and orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments. Simple physical characteristics such as left-handedness, skin color, or age, or uncomplicated pregnancy do not constitute physical impairments and therefore cannot be considered disabilities under 504. Similarly, disadvantages attributable to environment, cultural, or economic factors are not the type of impairments covered by 504. The definition also does not include common personality traits such as poor judgment or a quick temper, where these are not symptoms of a mental or psychological disorder.

The parent or guardian must be provided with notice of actions affecting the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student and are entitled to an impartial hearing if there is a disagreement with the district decisions in these areas. Handicaps covered by Section 504 and not IDEA must provide a Section 504 hearing if requested. The Parent/guardian does not necessarily have to sign the Individual Accommodation Plan (IAP), but it is best to document at least two different attempts to meet with the parent to discuss modifications in the regular classroom.

Section 504 is NOT an aspect of special education.

Each school has a school 504 coordinator that is trained by the district 504 coordinator. Every school is provided professional development about 504 during the first six weeks of school.