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Section 504 Services for Students

Section 504 Ensures Equal Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

504 and IDEA

 

Overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Congress prohibited discrimination against persons with disabilities in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in a segment most often referred to simply as “Section 504.” This was a broadly worded prohibition that covers both children and adults. It applies to programs that receive any federal financial assistance, including public schools. Students in the school system who qualify for services under Section 504 may receive special services and accommodations, including accommodations on state- and district-mandated assessments, such as the Georgia Milestones and the EOPA tests given at the high school level. In some cases, students may receive accommodations on exams given through the College Board.

 

As defined by Section 504 and ADAAA, the basic definition of disability includes three prongs:

1. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;

2. A record of such an impairment; or

3. Being regarded as having such an impairment

 

The presence of one of these conditions in itself does not qualify an individual for 504 protection. The impairment must also cause a substantial limitation of a major life activity. The second and third prongs of the definition do not provide accommodations to the individuals. These prongs simply afford the individual with protection from discrimination.

Major life activities include but are not limited to:

Caring for one's self Performing Manual tasks Walking
Seeing Hearing Speaking
Breathing Working Eating
Sleeping Standing Reaching
Lifting Bending Learning
Reading Concentrating Thinking
Communicating Interacting with Others*  

*Included in regulations proposed by the EEOC

Major life activities also include major bodily functions, such as:

 

Functions of the immune system Normal cell growth Digestive
Bowel Bladder Neurological
Brain Circulatory Respiratory
Endocrine Hemic Lymphatic
Musculoskeletal Special sense organs and skin Genitourinary
Cardiovascular Systems Reproductive functions  

 

Referring for a 504 Evaluation or Questions

To determine if a student has a disability under Section 504, the 504 Team at the school meets to review all available information, including outside information such as medical reports provided by the parents. After a Disability Determination has been made and the team recognizes the presence of a disability, which meets the criteria set forth in Section 504, an Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP) is developed if one is needed. Parents are notified about these meetings with an invitation to attend.

If you suspect that a student may have a disability covered under Section 504, contact the Section 504 Coordinator at the school about your concerns and questions.

Additional Questions and Concerns about 504:

If you have additional questions or concerns, contact the 504 Coordinator at your child's school* or contact the Ware County School System’s District 504 Director as follows:

Dr. Donna H. McClain
Ware County Schools
1301 Bailey Street
Waycross, GA 31501
(912) 287-2306
Fax: (912) 287-2207
Email: dmcclain@ware.k12.ga.us

District Level Coordinator:

Mrs. Brittany Peacock
Ware County Schools
1301 Bailey Street
Waycross, GA 31501
(912) 287-2306
Fax: (912) 287-2207
Email: bpeacock@ware.k12.ga.us

 

 

School Level Coordinators:

Ruskin-Mrs. Lisa Crosby, Counselor

Williams Heights- Mr. William Epps, AP

Memorial Drive- Mrs. Tiffany Warren, Counselor

Waresboro-  Mrs. Misty Burchette, Counselor

Wacona- Mrs. Jeri Ray, AP

Center- Mr. LeVar Garner, AP

Ware Middle- Mr. Lamar Smallwood, AP

Waycross Middle- Mr. Clarence Thomas, Counselor

Ware County High School- Loretta Coar, Jewel Sharpe, Bess Davis, Sarah Penland- Counselors

 

Additional information and forms:

Ware County School System 504 Procedures: A Brief Guide

Ware County School System: Section 504 Rights for Parents and Students

Ware County School System: Section 504 and Discipline

Ware County School System: Complaint Process Flowchart

Ware County School System Section 504 Request for Due Process Form

 

Office of Civil Rights Section 504 Complaints
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaints-how.html

Office of Civil Rights Section 504 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html

Section 504 Overview (Georgia Department of Education)
http://archives.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/Overview%20of%20Section%20504%20of%20the%20Rehabilitation%20Act%20of%201973.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F68DE1A3CA1B2B57704127920BEF9AF7CD2CE7D63ACB777F91&Type=D

 

Section 504 Procedural Safeguards (Georgia Department of Education)
http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Student-Support-Teams/Documents/Model%20Procedural%20Safeguards%20under%20Section%20504.pdf

Section 504 Parent and Student Rights (Georgia Department of Education)
http://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Student-Support-Teams/Documents/Model%20Section%20504%20Student%20Rights.pdf

 

WARE COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM

Parent and Student Rights under Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as “Section 504,” is a nondiscrimination statute enacted by the United States Congress. The purpose of Section 504 is to prohibit discrimination and to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students.

Parents and/or students are provided with the following rights through the implementing regulations of Section 504 as set out in 34 CFR Part 104:

  1. Your child has the right to an appropriate education designed to meet his or her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students. 34 CFR 104.33.
  2. Your child has the right to free educational services except for those fees that are imposed on non-disabled students or their parents. Insurers and similar third parties who provide services not operated by or provided by the recipient are not relieved from an otherwise valid obligation to provide or pay for services provided to a disabled student. 34 CFR 104.33.
  3. Your child has a right to participate in an educational setting (academic or nonacademic) with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate to his or her needs 34 CFR 104.34.
  4. Your child has a right to facilities, services, and activities that are comparable to those provided for non-disabled students. 34 CFR 104.34.
  5. Your child has a right to an evaluation prior to a Section 504 determination of eligibility. 34 CFR 104.35.
  6. You have the right to not consent to the school system’s request to evaluate your child. 34 CFR 104.35.
  7. You have the right to ensure that evaluation procedures, which may include testing, conform to the requirements of 34 CFR 104.35.
  8. You have the right to ensure that the school system will consider information for a variety of sources as appropriate, which may include aptitude and achievement tests, grades, teacher recommendations and observations, physical conditions, social or cultural background, medical records, and parental recommendations. 34 CFR 104.35.
  9. You have the right to ensure that placement decisions are made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about your child, the meaning of evaluation data, the placement options, and the legal requirements for least restrictive environment and comparable facilities.
  10. If your child is eligible under Section 504, your child has a right to periodic reevaluations, including prior to any subsequent significant change of placement 34 CFR 104.35.
  11. You have the right to notice prior to any actions by the school system regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of your child. 34 CFR 104.36.
  12. You have the right to examine your child’s educational records. 34 CFR 104.36.
  13. You have the right to an impartial hearing with respect to the school system’s actions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, or educational placement, with opportunity for parental participation in the hearing and representation by an attorney. 34 CFR 104.36.
  14. You have the right to receive a copy of this notice and a copy of the school system’s impartial hearing procedure upon request. 34 CFR 104.36.
  15. If you disagree with the decision of the impartial hearing officer (school board members and other district employees are not considered impartial hearing officers), you have a right to a review of that decision according to the school system’s impartial hearing procedures. 34 CFR 104.36.
  16. You have the right to, at any time, file a complaint with the United State Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The address of the regional office is: Office for Civil Rights; Region IV; 61 Forsyth Street, Suite 1970; Atlanta, GA 30303.

If you have questions, need additional assistance, or want more information regarding Section 504, please contact Dr. Donna H. McClain, the Ware County School System’s 504 Director at the following address:

 

Ware County Schools
1301 Bailey Street
Waycross, GA 31501
(912) 287-2306
dmcclain@ware.k12.ga.us

PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS UNDER SECTION 504

WARE COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM
Section 504 Procedural Safeguards

1Overview: Any student or parent or guardian (“grievant”) may request an impartial hearing due to the school system’s actions or inactions regarding your child's identification, evaluation, or educational placement under Section 504. Requests for an impartial hearing must be in writing to the school system’s Section 504 Coordinator; however, a grievant’s failure to request a hearing in writing does not alleviate the school system’s obligation to provide an impartial hearing if the grievant orally requests an impartial hearing through the school system’s Section 504 Coordinator. The school system’s Section 504 Coordinator will assist the grievant in completing the written Request for Hearing.

2. Hearing Request: The Request for the Hearing must include the following:

a. The name of the student.
b. The address of the residence of the student.
c. The name of the school the student is attending.
d. The decision that is the subject of the hearing.
e. The requested reasons for review.
f. The proposed remedy sought by the grievant.
g. The name and contact information of the grievant.

Within 10 business days from receiving the grievant’s Request for Hearing, the Section 504 Coordinator will acknowledge the Request for Hearing in writing and schedule a time and place for a hearing. If the written Request for Hearing does not contain the necessary information noted above, the Section 504 Coordinator will inform the grievant of the specific information needed to complete the request. All timelines and processes will be stayed until the Request for Hearing contains the necessary information noted above.

3. Mediation: The school system may offer mediation to resolve the issues detailed by the grievant in his or her Request for Hearing. Mediation is voluntary and both the grievant and school system must agree to participate. The grievant may terminate the mediation at any time. If the mediation is terminated without an agreement, the school system will follow the procedures for conducting an impartial hearing without an additional Request for Hearing.

4. Hearing Procedures:

a. The Section 504 Coordinator will obtain an impartial review official who will conduct a hearing within 45 calendar days from the receipt of the grievant’s Request for Hearing unless agreed to otherwise by the grievant or a continuance is granted by the impartial review official.

b. Upon a showing of good cause by the grievant or school system, the impartial review official, at his or her discretion, may grant a continuance and set a new hearing date. The request for a continuance must be in writing and copied to the other party.

c. The grievant will have an opportunity to examine the child’s educational records prior to the hearing.

d. The grievant will have the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel at his or her own expense at the hearing and participate, speak, examine witnesses, and present information at the hearing. If the grievant is to be represented by legal counsel at the hearing, he or she must inform the Section 504 Coordinator of that fact in writing at least 10 calendar days prior to the hearing. Failure to notify the Section 504 Coordinator in writing of representation by legal counsel shall constitute good cause for continuance of the hearing.

e. The grievant will have the burden of proving any claims he or she may assert. When warranted by circumstances or law, the impartial hearing officer may require the recipient to defend its position/decision regarding the claims (i.e. A recipient shall place a disabled student in the regular educational environment operated by the recipient unless it is demonstrated by the recipient that the education of the person in the regular environment with the use of Supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. 34 C.F.R.§104.34). One or more representatives of the school system, who may be an attorney, will attend the hearing to present the evidence and witnesses, respond to the grievant testimony and answer questions posed by the review official.

f. The impartial review official shall not have the power to subpoena witnesses, and the strict rules of evidence shall not apply to hearings. The impartial review official shall have the authority to issue pre-hearing instructions, which may include requiring the parties to exchange documents and names of witnesses to be present.

g. The impartial review official shall determine the weight to be given any evidence based on its reliability and probative value.

h. The hearing shall be closed to the public.

i. The issues of the hearing will be limited to those raised in the written or oral request for the hearing.

j. Witnesses will be questioned directly by the party who calls them. Cross-examination of witnesses will be allowed. The impartial review official, at his or her discretion, may allow further examination of witnesses or ask questions of the witnesses.

k. Testimony shall be recorded by court reporting or audio recording at the expense of the recipient. All documentation related to the hearing shall be retained by the recipient.