Posted on 04/05/2019 at 10:34 AM by Blog Experts
There have been a number of examples of parents providing a letter from the doctor stating that a student is eligible for a Section 504 plan. It can be shared through a medical report or prescription note, or other type of order. At times, they may even list the types of accommodations districts “must” provide. When the parents share this information with the district, schools may want to review their process and procedure in determining eligibility for Section 504 and that, while the doctor may be very good intentioned, it is a district’s Section 504 Team responsibility to evaluate and determine if a student is eligible and, if found eligible, what accommodations are needed to meet the needs of the student.
These accommodations cannot be dictated by the doctor or other medical/mental health professional. As a plan is developed for those students who are found eligible, it is important to be specific about accommodations. Understand that a similar diagnosis does not dictate either eligibility or “standard” accommodations, as these are both determined on an individual basis determined by student performance and/or needs. The doctor’s recommendation is just one of the pieces of evidence that can be used to document the possible need, but it is not the only piece. A diagnosis, itself, is not required nor does it guarantee a student’s eligibility for Section 504. Often times, this is misunderstood as well. “While it’s true that districts must consider the doctor’s recommendations, they aren’t required to agree with and implement every outside recommendation. See, Michael P. and Elizabeth G. v. Department of Education., State of Hawaii, 57 IDELR 123, 656. F. 3rd 1057, 1066 (9th Cir., 2011)” (LRP Publications, February 2018, Vol. 21. Iss. 12, p.3).
The district needs to demonstrate diligence in evaluating the student’s needs, what has been experienced by the student/teachers/staff throughout the course of the student’s school experience (academic, extra-curricular, other), and are there accommodations being made in their general education classrooms on a regular basis to meet the needs of the student. This is an important part of preparing your team for all of their meetings, planning, and the development of policies and procedures that help guide this work.