Posted on 11/26/2018 at 02:39 PM by Blog Experts

There continues to be questions about eligibility determination in Section 504. This is a district team decision. The member of the team should include individuals who are familiar with the student in question and should include a building administrator, teachers, counselor, school nurse, parents or guardians, and other members as appropriate. It is always good to get feedback for individuals who are not able to attend if their experience with the student would provide insight and guidance to the team. Please see this past article, "Determining Eligibility: 504 Team Approach."

A team approach is the best practice in determining Section 504 eligibility for students. School districts want to establish nondiscriminatory evaluation and placement procedures to avoid the inappropriate education that may result from the misclassification or improper placement of students. Providing a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each student, regardless of disabilities means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of disabled persons as adequately as the needs of non-disabled persons are met, to the maximum extent as non-disabled students as appropriate. Eligibility is based primarily on the definition of disability. Section 504 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This is a critical element in determining eligibility and is a subjective decision made by a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the child. A team approach in this determination is significant for the district. Feedback and discussions with teachers, counselors, and parents regarding the severity and duration of the impairment are two factors that most likely determine whether or not an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.

Example: If it is a severe impairment, but only affects the student for two days, then a substantial limitation does not likely exist. Similarly, if an impairment if long term, but it is very mild, then a substantial limitation may not exist.

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