Developing a Section 504 Plan for Eligible Students,
Implementation, and General Compliance
When a student is determined eligible for a Section 504 Plan, the Section 504/I&RS Team is responsible for developing the student’s Section 504 Plan. A Section 504 Plan is a legally binding document that outlines the accommodations to meet the unique needs of a student as a result of his or her physical or mental impairment as determined during the evaluation meeting. The Section 504 Plan represents what NHRHS will provide to the student.
Membership of the Section 504/I&RS Team
Section 504 requires that decision making under Section 504 is made by a “group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and placement options.” Membership of Section 504/I&RS Teams can be flexible and may vary based on the purpose of the meeting and the impairment under consideration.
Preparation for Developing the Section 504 Plan
For an annual review or reevaluation meeting the student’s teachers shall complete the Section 504 Progress and Accommodation form. This information will assist the Section 504/I&RS Team in determining eligibility under Section 504 as well as any adjustments necessary for the accommodations, if appropriate.
Writing the Section 504 Plan
The Section 504/I&RS Team completes the Section 504 Plan form. The Section 504 Plan form is completed for both the initial Section 504 Plan as well as for revisions at each annual review.
Identifying Information: Complete the student’s demographic information. Identify the student’s case manager.
Reason for Section 504/I&RS Meeting: Check the box for either “Initial Section 504 Plan” or “Annual Review of Section 504 Plan.”
Physical or Mental Impairment and Major Life Activity: The record of a physical or mental impairment(s) as well as the major life activity substantially limited by the identified impairment that were identified through the Section 504 eligibility meeting will be recorded, as long as the eligibility items are completed on Section 504 Eligibility form is completed.
Specific Accommodations: Accommodations ensure the student receives an equal opportunity to receive FAPE as adequately as the needs of individuals without disabilities. Accommodations are intended to reduce or even eliminate the effects of a student’s disability; they do not reduce learning expectations. Determining and providing accommodations allows for a comparative standard. The Section 504/I&RS Team determines what the school must do in order to ensure the student with a disability has an opportunity equal to that of his or her nondisabled peers to learn (or otherwise perform or participate, depending on the disability). Any recommended accommodations should:
- Relate to the area of impairment
- Reflect the unique needs of the student
- Enable the student with a disability to receive an equal opportunity to participate in all educational programming as his/her nondisabled peers; be reasonable for the student to have equal access to the curriculum and equal opportunity to demonstrate achievement
- Be specific enough in description to indicate when and where it will be implemented
Accommodations are designed to meet individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of nondisabled peers. The need for a specific accommodation must relate to the area of the identified impairment and is based on data to support the need for the accommodation. In cases where an accommodation is requested without adequate data to support the need for the accommodation, the Section 504/I&RS Team may agree to collect the necessary data and convene again to determine the need for the accommodation based on a review of data.
Accommodations should be clearly written and specific. For example, if a student’s Section 504 Plan includes “preferential seating” as an accommodation, write whether that means that the teacher should seat the student near the door, out of direct light, closer to the teacher, etc.
Requested accommodations should be thoroughly considered before they are deemed unreasonable. Accommodations may not result in a material alteration of the program. For example, a requested accommodation of “no penalty for spelling errors” could materially alter a language arts class if that class were specifically teaching spelling skills.
Remember that the purpose of Section 504 is to level the playing field. If the Section 504/I&RS Team ties each accommodation to data from the evaluation, showing where a disability has impacted negatively on the child’s ability to access or benefit from the school’s programs, it can dramatically reduce the problem of over-accommodation. Where there is no disability-related need, there is no accommodation required by a nondiscrimination law.
Related Services: Under Section 504, students are entitled to a free, appropriate public education, which may include related services. Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 does not list specific related services.
Dates: The effective date and the most recent evaluation date will display when the Section 504 Plan form is printed. The projected re-evaluation date (three years from the Section 504/I&RS Team meeting where eligibility for the Section 504 Plan was determined) and the projected annual review date will display on the Section 504 Plan when printed. There is also a termination date for students who, through the reevaluation process, are determined no longer eligible under Section 504.
Participating Team Members: The name and title of each Section 504/I&RS Team meeting participant is recorded on the Section 504 Plan.
Parent/Guardian Consent: Obtain the parent/guardian’s consent (signature) at the end of the Section 504 Plan form for initial plans. If the parent refuses to sign the initial Section 504 Plan, it cannot be implemented. The parent/guardian is provided with a copy of the Section 504 Plan within five (5) business days of the Section 504/I&RS Team meeting.
Parental Rights Document: The Section 504 Parental Rights document, Notice of Procedural Safeguards Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, outlines a parent’s rights in the Section 504 process. Parents have a right to address disputes through the grievance process as outlined in this manual.
Least Restrictive Environment
Section 504/I&RS teams must ensure the student with a disability remains in the general education environment. It would be extremely rare for a student with a Section 504 Plan to require placement outside the home school.
After the Section 504/I&RS Team meeting the case manager is responsible for distributing copies of the Section 504 Plan to all persons responsible for implementing the accommodations. All individuals who provide or may implement Section 504 Plans must be made aware of the student’s disability and accommodations. This includes substitute teachers if they will have implementation responsibilities. The privacy of the student shall be protected to the maximum extent appropriate under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. Access to student records will be limited to those NHRHS employees who have a legitimate educational need to know the student’s Section 504 status.
Teachers and employees implementing the Section 504 Plan collect data on the use and success of the accommodations. This data will be reviewed at the annual review, any interim reviews, and reevaluation meetings.
All NHRHS staff will implement the Section 504 Plan and required accommodations as written. No individual staff member has discretion or authority to alter/otherwise interpret the Section 504 Plan or deny any accommodations granted to the student. NHRHS will routinely take steps to ensure staff members are trained in Section 504 rules and procedures. The Office for Civil Rights of The U.S. Department of Education has jurisdiction to enforce Section 504 if the school has discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against anyone based on disability.