Posted on 03/12/2019 at 01:57 PM by Blog Experts
There are times I hear from individuals, family members, counselors, administrators, or teachers that the district does not support providing Section 504 Plans. These plans are not optional for public districts or private schools who receive any funding through federal or state dollars (which often occurs through the lunch program). If a student is being provided with accommodations by teachers or staff within the district, they are being treated as if a student has a disability. It is not wise for districts to have a policy, or even an understanding, of not offering Section 504 plans if they are already providing some forms of support within the general education programs. This position would open the school up to a non-compliance issue with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) if a complaint would be filed.
Guidance in Section 504 is very clear about this standard for eligibility. If a student has a disability or is treated as if they have a disability that causes a significant limitation when compared to the peers, the school should conduct a team meeting to determine eligibility and, if found eligible, develop a plan. It is important for district leadership to:
- ensure students are not placed in classrooms with a disability label
- have opportunities to participate in all courses and/or programs in which all other students may participate
- remember the least restricted environment (LRE) requirement of the law as reported, “Schools are required to educate students with disabilities with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the students with the disability” (34 CFR 104.34).