The School Board of Miami-Dade County
Bylaws & Policies
Unless a specific policy has been amended and the date the policy was revised is noted at the bottom of that policy, the Bylaws and Policies of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools were adopted on May 11, 2011 and were in effect beginning July 1, 2011.
 

2260.01 - SECTION 504 PROCEDURES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

The School Board shall not discriminate in educational programs and activities and will strive to provide equal opportunity for all as required by law.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (hereinafter "Section 504"), is Congress' directive to schools receiving any Federal funding to provide students with opportunities for participation in educational programs and activities without discrimination on the basis of disability. It states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the 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 (2009))

The District has established and implemented standards and procedures for the identification, evaluation, placement, and provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) program for students with disabilities pursuant to Federal law.

A student is entitled to FAPE and may be entitled to Section 504 accommodations if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one (1) or more major life activities.

Definitions of Section 504 Terms

 A.Individual with a Disability:
  Any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one (1) or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment.
  An individual meets the requirement of being "regarded as" having an impairment if the individual establishes that s/he has been subjected to an action prohibited under the Act because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. "Regarded as" does not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor, expected to last six (6) months or less.
  The student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one (1) or more life activities is entitled to FAPE and may be entitled to Section 504 accommodations. The student who has a record of having impairment, or is regarded as having impairment is considered disabled under Section 504 for purposes of anti-discrimination protection.

 B.Physical or Mental Impairment:
  A physical impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one (1) or more of the body systems. A mental impairment is any mental or psychological disorder.

 C.Substantial Limitation:
  A person is substantially limited when s/he is limited as to the condition, manner, or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity, as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity.

 D.Major Life Activity:
  Major life activities under Section 504 include, but are not limited to, caring for oneís self, seeing, breathing, walking, hearing, speaking, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and performing manual tasks.

 E.FAPE:
  FAPE means receiving regular or special education and related aids and services that are (1) designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met and (ii) based upon adherence to procedural safeguards. FAPE includes the right to be educated with students who are not disabled to the maximum extent appropriate (i.e. the student's education will be provided in the regular education classroom unless it is demonstrated that education in the regular environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily).

The Section 504 standard of what is appropriate differs from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) appropriate standard which requires the District to design a program reasonably calculated to confer educational benefits. Section 504 requires that no discrimination occur against a student solely because of his/her disability. Students with disabilities who qualify for Section 504 services must be provided with aids, benefits, or services that are comparable to those provided non-disabled persons. Students with disabilities who meet eligibility for an IEP are protected by Section 504ís prohibition against discrimination on the basis of a disability. However, some students with disabilities who do not require an IEP may still be eligible for a Section 504 plan and are also entitled to protection against discrimination on the basis of a disability.

Section 504 Requirements

 A.Notice
  Parents must receive notice of the Section 504 meeting and be invited to attend. Parents must also receive a copy of the Section 504 Procedural Safeguards (Notification of Rights and Due Process Procedures).

 B.Monitoring
  If additional information is presented to school personnel by the parent or other interested party, or the person(s) responsible for implementing the plan are not satisfied that the plan is working, (e.g., the student has not demonstrated improvement or progress) the Section 504 team should reconvene to consider modifying the current plan or to determine other options. Section 504 plans and eligibility should be reviewed annually, or sooner, if requested by either District personnel or parent.

 C.Evaluation
  Section 504 evaluation means review of existing information from a variety of sources, such as teacher observations, standardized test scores, report cards, information from parents and medical providers, and/or administration of formal test instruments. Formal test instruments and other standardized evaluation materials must be validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and must be administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by their producer. Tests materials include those tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those which are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient. Tests are selected and administered so as best to ensure that, when a test is administered a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the test results accurately reflect the studentís aptitude or achievement levels or whatever other factor the test purports to measure.

 D.Change in Placement
  Section 504 requires that the parent is notified prior to any significant change in placement. Examples of significant change in placement are: expulsion, repeated suspensions which exceed ten (10) days in a school year, graduation from high school, and a significant change in the delivery of education.

 E.Discipline
  School staff must review information about students with Section 504 services prior to suspending or expelling them for more than ten (10) days. A team of persons knowledgeable about the student must convene to complete a manifestation determination form (FM 3918), and to consider if other strategies, interventions, or assessments are appropriate. This procedure for reevaluation meets the Section 504 requirement.

 F.Non-academic Services
  Students with Section 504 services must be provided with an equal opportunity to participate in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities. Non-academic and extracurricular services and activities may include counseling, recreational activities and athletics, transportation, health services, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the District, referrals to agencies which provide assistance to persons with disabilities, and employment opportunities.

Section 504 Procedures

 A.Referral and Evaluation
  Students experiencing difficulty in the classroom and/or are suspected of having a disability should initially be referred to the School Support Team (SST).
  The SST shall determine whether it is appropriate to refer the student for an evaluation and possible Section 504 services. All areas of educational need should be considered and established procedures for SST should be followed.
  Students with obvious physical or health needs that require accommodations need not go through the SST process in order to be referred for Section 504 eligibility determination.
  A student who does not meet eligibility for IDEA is not automatically provided with Section 504 services. However, the SST must consider whether the studentís documented disability requires Section 504 services in order for the student to receive FAPE. Section 504 eligibility is based on whether or not a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one (1) or more life activities.

 B.Section 504 Teams
  Section 504 Eligibility Determination teams and Section 504 teams that convene to write Section 504 plans should consist of persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options. Though special education personnel may be requested to provide support at a Section 504 meeting, the Section 504 process is the responsibility of general education staff.
  Parents must receive notice of the Section 504 meeting and be invited to attend. Parents and students should be encouraged to attend the meeting and provide input that would help the team in making decisions. The parents' attendance, however, is not required.
  The Section 504 team must draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, standardized test scores, teacher observations and recommendations, report cards, physical condition, social or cultural background, adaptive behavior, and information from parents and medical providers.
  The Section 504 team must consider the studentís functioning and any substantial limitation to a life activity without consideration of the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures that the student might use to alleviate the effects of the disability.
  A studentís grades and/or test scores should not be the only criteria that the team uses to determine that she/he does not require a Section 504 plan. The team must consider the studentís overall functioning.

 C.Documenting Section 504 Needs & Services
  The school principal must assume responsibility as Section 504 coordinator or assign a designee who is responsible for proper implementation of Section 504 regulations. In interpreting evaluation data, creating Section 504 plans, and making placement decisions, the Section 504 team must draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement, tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior and ensure that information obtained from all such sources is documented and carefully considered.
  Not every student who meets eligibility for Section 504 protection due to a documented disability automatically requires Section 504 services. The Section 504 team must consider whether the student needs Section 504 services. Services, including accommodations, should be evidence-based.
  Implementation of Section 504 services should be documented and if services or accommodations become ineffective they should be modified or removed.

Section 504 Grievance Procedures

Parents or students who have a disagreement involving a Section 504 plan are entitled to the following grievance procedures:

 A.appeal to the District Section 504 Compliance Officer, 1501 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Suite 407, Miami, Florida 33132, Phone: 305-995-1735, Fax: 305-995-1760.

 B.request mediation; and/or

 C.request a hearing.

Mediation and hearing requests should be made to the Clerk of the Board, 1450 N.E. Second Avenue, Suite 311, Miami, Florida, 33132, Fax: 305-995-1448.

All students, including students with disabilities shall be treated with respect. The Board intends that all students be provided equal access, opportunity, and treatment in the provision of educational programs and activities. The Board strives to provide an educational environment that is free from discrimination and harassment and school personnel shall strive to ensure that all students receive equal access to all educational opportunities.

For grievances based upon a record of a disability or the fact that school personnel are treating a non-disabled student as disabled, or for a complaint of discrimination or harassment that does not relate to the identification, eligibility, evaluation, or educational placement of the student, a local grievance must be filed according to the grievance procedures in Board Policy 5517.02. The complaint should be made directly to the principal and/or the Office of Civil Rights Compliance, 155 NE 15th Street, Suite P104E, Miami, Florida, 33132, Phone: 305-995-1580, Fax: 305-995-2047.

F.S. 1000.05
29 C.F.R. Part 1630
34 C.F.R. Part 104
29 U.S.C. 794, Section 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Revised 3/15/17

© Miami-Dade 2017