Decatur County Community Schools
Administrative Guidelines
 

2260.01A - SECTION 504/ADA PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BASED ON DISABILITY

The Superintendent establishes these administrative guidelines for the identification, evaluation, and educational programming and placement of students with disabilities who qualify under Section 504/ADA. These guidelines, along with AG 2260.01B, further fulfill the Board's directive to adopt a system of procedural safeguards that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging violations of Section 504/ADA.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations ("Section 504") prohibit discrimination against qualified persons with a disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. No discrimination against any qualified person with a disability will be knowingly permitted in any of the programs, activities, and/or practices in the Corporation.

Building principals shall serve as Building Section 504/ADA Compliance Officers (Building Compliance Officers).

A person with a disability is anyone who:

 

A.

has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities ("actual disability" when mitigating measures or reasonable accommodations are not in place;

   
 

B.

has a record of having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or

   
 

C.

is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but is treated by the Board as constituting such a limitation, or has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitude of others toward such impairment, or has none of the physical or mental impairments recognized by Section 504 but is treated as having such an impairment).

Major life activities include, but are not limited to, functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, sitting, reaching, interacting with others, and working.

Major life activities also include the operation of a major bodily function, including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal and reproductive functions. The operation of a major bodily function includes the operation of an individual organ within a body system.

Physical or mental impairment means:

 

A.

any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems:

   
 

1.

neurological;

   
 

2.

musculoskeletal;

   
 

3.

special sense organs;

   
 

4.

respiratory, including speech organs;

   
 

5.

cardiovascular;

   
 

6.

reproductive;

   
 

7.

digestive;

   
 

8.

genito-urinary;

   
 

9.

hemic and lymphatic;

   
 

10.

skin;

   
 

11.

endocrine;

     
 

B.

any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

While the determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major activity is an individualized one that is case specific, given the inherent nature of the following impairments, as a factual matter, they will virtually always be found to impose a substantial limitation, at a minimum, on the major life activity indicated: deafness substantially limits hearing; blindness substantially limits seeing; an intellectual disability substantially limits brain function; partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair substantially limits musculoskeletal function, autism substantially limits brain function; cancer substantially limits normal cell growth; cerebral palsy substantially limits brain function; diabetes substantially limits endocrine function; epilepsy substantially limits neurological function; Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection substantially limits immune functions; multiple sclerosis substantially limits neurological function; muscular dystrophy substantially limits neurological function; and major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia substantially limits brain function.

Physical or mental impairments that are episodic in nature or in remission may constitute a disability for the purposes of Section 504/ADA if the impairment would substantially limit a major life activity when active, such as asthma, allergies, or cancer.

The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity must be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as medication, medical supplies, equipment or appliances, low-vision devices (not including ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics (including limbs and devices), hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, oxygen therapy equipment or supplies, assistive technology, reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.

Individual with a disability does not include the following (i.e., Section 504 specifically excludes):

 

A.

individuals who are currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs, when the Board acts on the basis of current rather than past use;

   
 

B.

an individual on the basis of homosexuality or bisexuality

   
 

C.

an individual on the basis of:

   
 

1.

transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairment, or other sexual behavior disorders;

   
 

2.

compulsive gambling, kleptomania, or pyromania; or

   
 

3.

psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs.

Individual with a disability includes an individual who:

 

A.

has successfully completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program and is no longer engaging in the use of illegal or unprescribed prescription drugs; or has otherwise been rehabilitated successfully and is no longer engaging in such use;

   
 

B.

is participating in a supervised rehabilitation program and is no longer engaging in such use; or

   
 

C.

is erroneously regarded as engaging in the illegal use of drugs, but is not engaging in such use.

Notwithstanding the preceding, for purposes of programs and activities providing educational services, the Board may take disciplinary action pertaining to the use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol against any student who is an individual with a disability and who currently is engaging in the illegal use of drugs or in the use of alcohol to the same extent that such disciplinary action is taken against students who are not individuals with disabilities.

The Board will not discriminate against otherwise qualified students with disabilities (i.e., students who otherwise meet eligibility criteria e.g., age for participation in the educational program and/or activities) in the provision of its educational programs and activities. The Board further will provide a free appropriate public education to qualified students with disabilities. Said education shall entail the provision of regular or special education and related aides and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. This includes providing academic and non-academic services to students with disabilities in the same setting as their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. In addition to its provision of educational services, the Board will not discriminate against otherwise qualified students with disabilities in its provision of non-educational academic and extra-curricular services and activities such as counseling services, physical-recreational athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the Board, referrals to agencies that provide assistance to persons with disabilities, and employment of students, and will provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in such services and activities. Qualified students with disabilities will be afforded accommodations/modifications/interventions to the Board's non-academic and extra-curricular services and activities, unless such accommodations/modifications/interventions would impose an undue financial burden, or would alter the fundamental nature or purpose of the service or activity. A determination that a particular accommodation/modification/intervention would constitute an undue burden must be made by the Superintendent or his/her designee after considering all resources available for use in the funding and operation of the service or activity, and must be accompanied by written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. In the event the Superintendent or his/her designee determines that an undue burden would result, the Board will take any other action that would not result in such burden but would still allow, to the maximum extent possible, individuals with disabilities to receive the benefits of the Board's non-academic and extra-curricular services and activities on an equal basis as individuals without disabilities.

If a parent disagrees with a determination made by the Board's professional staff concerning the identification, evaluation, or placement of a student with a disability, the parent may request a hearing before an impartial hearing officer that is not employed by the Board (see AG 2260.01B).

Alternatively, the parent may file an internal complaint. A parent does not need to first exhaust the internal complaint process in order to file a request for a due process hearing. In fact, a due process hearing may be requested at any time and the parent does not waive that right if s/he first opts to try to resolve his/her dispute through the internal complaint process.

Procedures Applicable to Section 504 Referrals/Evaluations Plans (Students)

Annually the Board will undertake to identify and locate every qualified person with a disability residing in the Corporation who is not receiving a public education, and notify the person and their parents or guardians of the Board's duties and responsibilities under Section 504.

Referral

Referrals may be made by anyone (e.g., parents, teachers, or other knowledgeable professionals). Referrals shall be made on the Suspected Disability Referral Form (Form 2260.01A F4) and submitted to the Building Compliance Officer. Referrals may be made at any time. Parents may request a referral form by contacting the Building Compliance Officer or a Corporation Compliance Officer.

Generally, a staff member should refer a student for an evaluation under Section 504 if s/he suspects that the student not only has a mental or physical impairment but also suspects an impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities. Examples:

 

A.

A teacher knows only that a student has asthma, without any other information. Refer? No.

   
 

B.

A teacher knows that a student has asthma and has an inhaler that is kept in the nurse's office that the student occasionally uses, without any other information. Refer? No.

   
 

C.

A teacher knows that a student has asthma, uses an inhaler in school, is frequently absent for asthma-related illnesses, and is having trouble in gym. Refer? Yes.

Assessment/Evaluation

Upon receipt of a Suspected Disability Referral Form, the Building Compliance Officer will notify the appropriate 504 Case Manager who will collect all relevant information on the student (e.g., medical reports, grade cards/report cards, school history, disciplinary action, etc.) to assist in documenting whether the student has a physical and/or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The 504 Case Manager should contact school staff who perform assessments and have them review existing pertinent information and determine whether additional assessments are needed. If an evaluation is needed, written parental consent shall be obtained within thirty (30) calendar days of the referral for an evaluation and a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form2260.01A F3) sent to the parents.

The evaluation must be sufficient to accurately and completely assess the nature and extent of the disability, and the recommended services and/or accommodations. Evaluations that are more limited than a full special education evaluation may be adequate in some circumstances. The evaluation or review of assessment information should include consideration of any behaviors that interfere with the otherwise qualified student's regular participation in the educational program and/or activities.

If the Corporation does not suspect that a student has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and therefore determines not to evaluate, it will notify the parents/guardian of that decision through the issuance of a prior written notice (Form 2260.01A F18) and provide them with a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights.

Before any action is taken with respect to Section 504 accommodations for a student with a disability, an evaluation shall be conducted or assessment information reviewed to determine if the student is disabled under Section 504. Parents will be afforded the opportunity to meaningfully participate and provide input in the evaluation process. The assessment information may include, but will not be limited to, medical reports that document a physical/mental impairment, aptitude and achievement test scores, teacher observations and recommendations, and other data, including information on social or cultural background and adaptive behavior. The information obtained from all such sources shall be documented and carefully considered. Additionally, if an evaluation is conducted, the Building Compliance Officer, in conjunction with the designated 504 Case Manager is responsible for verifying that:

 

A.

tests and other evaluation materials have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and are administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by their producer;

   
 

B.

tests and other evaluation materials include those tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those that are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient; and

   
 

C.

tests are selected and administered so that, when a test is administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the test results accurately reflect the student's aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factor the test purports to measure, rather than reflecting the student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where those skills are the factors that the test purports to measure).

Re-evaluations

Re-evaluations are not required at specific intervals; however, assessments will be updated so that eligibility and accommodation planning is based on information that accurately defines the student's disability and reflects the student's current strengths and needs. At least every three (3) years appropriate school staff should determine whether updated evaluations are needed. A re-evaluation will be completed prior to a significant change in placement. When a re-evaluation is needed, parents will be sent prior notice (Form 2260.01A F18) and a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights. Consistent with initial evaluations, parents will be afforded the opportunity to meaningfully participate and provide input in the re-evaluation process.

Eligibility Determination

Within a reasonable period of time (generally no more than sixty (60) calendar days), the Building Compliance Officer will convene an Intervention Assistance Team ("IAT") Conference. The student's parents will be sent a letter inviting them to attend and participate in the IAT conference (Form 2260.01A F9). The letter to the parents should be sent at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the Conference. Parents will also be sent a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information Rights. The IAT shall be composed of persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options, and should at a minimum include the Building Compliance Officer, the designated 504 Case Manager, and the parents. The IAT may also include general education teacher(s), student, guidance counselor, school psychologist, the Corporation's Health Coordinator, school nurse, Director of Pupil Services/Special Education, and other persons with knowledge of the student or the suspected disability, and any other individual the parents may wish to bring to the Conference. The purpose of the Conference is to discuss the information gathered, determine whether the student has a disability that makes him/her eligible for specialized services and/or accommodations/modifications/interventions under Section 504 (i.e. review the impairment and determine whether it substantially limits one or more major life activities), and, if so, determines whether the student requires specialized services and/or accommodations/modifications/interventions in order to receive a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") and to access the Corporation's programs and activities on an equal basis to students without disabilities.

The Building Compliance Officer will serve as the Chairperson of the IAT Conference. The Chairperson has the following responsibilities:

 

A.

at each IAT Conference, to verbally explain and offer a written copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form 2260.01A F3)

   
 

B.

gather information

   
 

C.

organize the presentation of the data

   
 

D.

coordinate the deliberation of Section 504 eligibility (see Form 2260.01A F11):

   
 

1.

Does the student have a physical or mental impairment?

   
 

2.

Does that impairment "substantially limit one or more major life activities"?

   
 

3.

Does the team have the data to justify a disability determination?

   
 

4.

Is the student a qualified individual with disabilities within the meaning of Section 504?

At the IAT Conference, the IAT will determine the needs, accommodations/modifications/interventions, services and placement for the student, which may include, but are not limited to:

 

A.

adjusting testing procedures;

   
 

B.

individualize classroom assignments, homework;

     
 

C.

provide staff interventions;

   
 

D.

utilize assistive technology;

   
 

E.

provide a buddy to take notes;

   
 

F.

provide an interpreter (for students or adults);

     
 

G.

modify materials;

   
 

H.

modify the student's day;

   
 

I.

facilitate or modify parents/student/teacher/staff communication;

   
 

J.

modify school procedures (e.g., provide additional time for passing between classes, adjust transportation, or approve early dismissal);

   
 

K.

develop and implement appropriate medical plans (e.g. emergency, asthma, seizure, or allergy plans) for eligible students whose physical or mental impairment impacts a major life activity other than learning.

   
 

The accommodations/modifications/interventions will be individualized to meet the needs of the student.

In interpreting data and making placement decisions, the Corporation will draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, teacher observations and recommendations, medical reports that document a physical/mental condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior. The information obtained from all such sources shall be documented and carefully considered.

Possible Outcomes of the IAT Meeting

 

A.

Student is eligible for a Section 504 Plan (Form 2260.01A F13). The IAT documents this determination on the Section 504 Summary Evaluation Report (Form 2260.01A F10). Section 504 Plan is developed by the IAT. Parents will be given a copy of the Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form 2260.01A F3).

   
 

B.

Student is ineligible for a Section 504  Plan. The IAT documents this determination on the Section 504 Summary Evaluation Report (Form 2260.01A F10). Parents will be given a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form 2260.01A F3).

   
 

1.

The IAT determines if the student needs interventions pursuant to a RtI Plan. If RtI is determined to be appropriate, the IAT will develop strategies to provide necessary interventions. The interventions should be documented on RtI paperwork. A copy of the RtI plan should be filed in the student's cumulative record folder. A copy of the RtI plan is NOT required to be sent to the Corporation Compliance Officer.

   
 

2.

Student will be served appropriately in the regular education program without written interventions.

     
 

C.

The IAT determines that it needs to collect more information before making an eligibility determination.

The Summary Evaluation Report (Form 2260.01A F10) shall reflect the determination on the issue of whether the student has been identified as disabled under Section 504. This document should be reviewed periodically.

Section 504 Plan

If a student is identified as disabled pursuant to Section 504, and the IAT determines the student requires specialized services and/or accommodations/modifications/interventions in order to receive FAPE and to access the Corporation's programs and activities on an equal basis to students without disabilities, the IAT will develop and complete the Section 504 Plan (Form 2260.01A F13). Aside from the description of the student's disability and the special education or related services and aides needed, the Plan will specify how the student will be provided FAPE. The Plan will specify the accommodations/modifications/interventions necessary so that the student's needs are met as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students. The purpose of the Section 504 Plan is to provide the student with equal access to school activities, to remove barriers to educational opportunity, and provide, to the degree possible, a level playing field. The Section 504 Plan should be signed by the members of the IAT, including the parents. A copy of the Plan will be sent to the Corporation's Compliance Officer and the Building Compliance Officer as soon as possible. A copy of the Plan also will be placed in the student's cumulative folder and given to school personnel who work with the student. If the parents are present, the Building Compliance Officer will request written permission from the parents to implement the Section 504 Plan. For initial plans, parent consent is required prior to implementation by the Corporation. If the parents do not attend the meeting to develop a Section 504 Plan, the Corporation will make reasonable efforts to obtain parental input prior to finalizing the plan and (a) submitting the Plan to parents for consent or (b) implementing a subsequent Plan. After parents consent to the initial Section 504 Plan, the Corporation may implement subsequent plans without written parental consent, but the parents must be provided with a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form 2260.01A F3) that explains their right to challenge the Corporation's actions. Regardless of whether it is an initial or subsequent plan a copy of the Plan must be sent to the student's parents.

With respect to Section 504 Plans, the designated 504 Case Manager is responsible for:

 

A.

informing staff that the Section 504 Plan is a legal document;

   
 

B.

writing and distributing the Section 504 Plan;

   
 

C.

encouraging staff to request a 504 review if they are concerned about or unable to follow the Section 504 plan;

   
 

D.

ensuring that reviews of Section 504 plans are held annually by October 15th, and that the results of the annual review are sent to the Corporation Compliance Officer.

Upon completion of the Section 504 Plan, the Building Compliance Officer should follow the Additional Procedures Applicable to Students with Section 504 Plans (see below).

Additional Procedures Applicable to Students with Section 504 Plans

 

A.

Prior to the beginning of each school year:

   
 

1.

The Building Compliance Officer or his/her designee is responsible for identifying the students in his/her building who have had Section 504 Plans in the past and designating a 504 Case Manager.

   
 

2.

The designated 504 Case Manager or his/her designee is responsible for obtaining a copy of the previous school year's Section 504 Plans and distributing them to all appropriate staff members.

   
 

B.

Within the first two (2) months of the school year:

   
 

1.

The Building Compliance Officer must notify the student's parents that the IAT needs to meet to review the Section 504 Plan and to determine whether it is still necessary/appropriate for the new school year.

   
 

2.

The Building Compliance Officer must schedule an IAT meeting to formulate a Section 504 Plan for the student for the new school year. The Section 504 Plan Review form (FORM DSE-504E) must be completed at the meeting. The IAT, including the parents, is charged with deciding whether to continue the existing Plan, discontinue the current Plan, or develop a new Plan.

   
 

3.

If there is an "active" Section 504 Plan, a copy of the Plan needs to be forwarded to the Corporation Compliance Officer by October 15th of each school year and a copy of the Plan placed in the student's cumulative record folder.

   
 

4.

Updated copies of the student's Section 504 Plan will be distributed to all of the students' teachers after review by the 504 Case Manager.

   
 

C.

During the school year:

   
 

The Section 504 Plan can be reviewed by the IAT at any time if concerns develop as to the appropriateness of the specialized services and/or accommodations/modifications/interventions being used with the student. This review can be initiated by staff or parents.

   
 

D.

Procedural Safeguards:

   
 

Any time the written results of a IAT meeting are provided to a student's parents, they should also be offered a copy of the Notice of Section 504/ADA Procedural Information and Rights (Form 2260.01A F3).

Parents' Options If They Disagree with the Corporation's Identification, Evaluation and/or Placement of Their Child

The parents may challenge the actions of the IAT regarding identification, evaluation or placement of their child by filing a request for an impartial due process hearing. Alternatively, the parents may file an internal complaint. If the parents elect the former, the Board must provide a due process hearing before an impartial hearing officer ("IHO") that is not employed by the Corporation. See AG 2260.01B - Section 504/ADA Complaint and Due Process Procedures. A parent does not need to first exhaust the internal complaint process in order to file a request for a due process hearing. In fact, a due process hearing may be requested at any time and parents do not waive that right if they first opt to try to resolve their dispute through the internal complaint process. If a parent is not satisfied with the IHO's decision, s/he may appeal it to a Federal Court of competent jurisdiction.

The parents may also file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. The Office for Civil Rights, however, is not part of the Corporation's internal complaint process or the system of procedural safeguards, and, absent extraordinary circumstances, will not review the results of individual placement and other educational decisions so long as the Corporation complied with the "process" requirements of Section 504 (concerning identification and locations, evaluation, and due process procedures).

Facilities

With regard to accessibility of facilities, the Corporation will meet its obligations through such means as redesign of equipment, reassignment of classes or other services to accessible buildings, assignment of aides to beneficiaries, alteration of existing facilities and/or construction of new facilities, or any other method that results in making its programs and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. In choosing among available methods for meeting its obligations, the Corporation will serve persons with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate.

© Neola 2012