This section of the Manual addresses important steps in the Section 504 process including: referral, evaluation, eligibility determination, development of the Section 504 Plan, review, and reevaluation.
A student who, because of a suspected disability, is believed to need services under Section 504 is typically referred for a Section 504 evaluation by a parent, guardian, teacher, other certified school employee, the student if 18 years of age or older, or other concerned adult individual. Upon the receipt of a referral:
· The referral should be reduced to writing. (Form B)
· The parent should be provided written notice of the referral, and be asked to provide written consent to a Section 504 evaluation. (Form D)
· The parent should be provided with a copy of "Section 504 Notice of Procedural Safeguards" (Form C) with notice of the referral.
Once the District has received parent consent to evaluate, the District may begin the evaluation process. If a parent refuses to consent to an initial evaluation, the District may, but is not required to, use due process hearing procedures to seek to override the parent's refusal to consent to the evaluation. Additionally, if a parent refuses to consent to an evaluation that is necessary for a determination of eligibility, the 504 Team may determine that the student is not eligible under Section 504.
The evaluation is the starting point for determining whether a student is an eligible student under Section 504. The District is required to conduct an evaluation before providing Section 504 services. The nature and extent of the information needed to make a Section 504 eligibility decision is determined on case-by-case basis by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of evaluation data, and the placement options, i.e., the Section 504 Team. Information obtained through the evaluation process must be documented and all significant factors must be considered. The District may, but is not required to, use the same evaluation process used to evaluate students under the IDEA. The evaluation must draw upon information from a variety of sources and may include:
Where formal testing is determined to be necessary, the evaluation procedures must ensure that:
1. 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.
2. Tests and other evaluation 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.
3. Tests are selected and administered so as best to ensure 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 when those skills are the facets that the tests purport to measure).
A medical diagnosis of a physical or mental impairment does not, in and of itself, determine Section 504 eligibility. As mentioned above, Section 504 requires the District to draw upon information from a variety of sources in making its eligibility determination. A medical diagnosis is only one source of information. Additionally, the District may request, but cannot require a parent to provide a medical statement or authorize the release of the student's medical information as part of the evaluation process. If the District determines, based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case, that a medical assessment is necessary for an appropriate evaluation, the District must ensure that the child receives this assessment at no cost to the parents. If alternative assessment methods meet the evaluation criteria, those methods may be used in lieu of a medical assessment. If a parent refuses to consent to a medical assessment and alternative assessment methods are not available, the 504 Team must proceed to make an eligibility determination based on the information it has on hand.
Absent extenuating circumstances, the District's evaluation and the development of a Section 504 Plan, if necessary, should be completed no later than 30 school days following the District's receipt of the parent's consent to evaluate. If an extension of time is required, the parent must be notified in writing of the extension, the reason for the extension, and the expected date of completion of the process.
The eligibility determination must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of evaluation data, and placement options and must be documented in writing. The parent of the student should be given a meaningful opportunity to provide input into identification, evaluation, and placement decisions for his/her child. Therefore, the parent should typically be included in this process.
Where a student is found to be eligible under Section 504, the need for a Section 504 Plan must be determined. (Form K). The Section 504 Team, which should include the parent, will be responsible for determining the services that are needed to provide the student a FAPE. The Plan should specify how services will be provided and by whom.
The Section 504 Plan shall be signed by the Section 504 Coordinator/Designee, indicating the District's intent to implement the plan. A copy of the Plan, along with the Section 504 Notice of Procedural Safeguards (Form C), must be provided to the parent.
If a Section 504 Plan is developed for a student,
all school personnel with implementation responsibilities
The teacher or other person(s) designated by the Section 504 Team shall monitor the student's progress and the effectiveness of the student's Plan. The teacher or other designated person will contact the parent (in person or by phone) at least annually to discuss whether the 504 Plan continues to be appropriate or whether any changes are necessary. If changes are to be considered, the Section 504 Team must be convened.
In addition, the Section 504 Team should be convened and the student's 504 Plan updated whenever the student's situation warrants a review (e.g., during natural transition periods, when a teacher or parent raises concerns, or when the student's performance changes).
A reevaluation should be completed at least once every 3 years to redetermine eligibility under Section 504 and before any significant change in the student's placement.