Section 504-Rehabilitation Act of 1973
A Section 504 Plan is an educational plan for a student which describes what accommodations, special services, or related aids and services will be provided to meet an eligible student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met. Although a written plan is not required by federal regulations, it is advised. It makes good sense that the plan be in writing. Parents should be notified and a copy of parental rights provided to them.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973/Public law 93-112 is a comprehensive law that addresses the rights of persons with disabilities and applies to all agencies that receive federal financial assistance. The regulation makes it clear that the failure to provide a free, appropriate public education to a student with disabilities covered by a Section 504 is discrimination which violates the law.
Eliminating barriers to education programs and services, increasing building accessibility, and establishing equitable employment practices are thoroughly and specifically addressed in Section 504 regulations. Section 504 states: No otherwise qualified handicapped individual shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The regulation makes it clear that the failure to provide a free appropriate public education to a student with disabilities covered by Section 504 is discrimination which violates the Act.
A parent's or guardian's rights under Section 504 are not the same nor as extensive as those provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The school district must make parents aware of their rights.
In 1973, when the Rehabilitation Act was passed, "handicap" was the acceptable term for a mental or physical impairment. Today, the term "disability" is preferred and promoted.
Under the provisions of Section 504, either term refers to a person who
- Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
To qualify for protection under the law, the individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working. Examples include Tourettes Syndrome, epilepsy, sickle-cell anemia, asthma, or a serious long-term illness or injury, if there is a resulting impact on a major life activity such as learning.
Student referrals begin at the local school level and are made to the school's 504 coordinator. After the response to intervention process has been followed and a determination is made that a student is unable to progress, then a 504 team is convened to determine whether the student is eligible for a 504 accommodation plan.
To qualify for protection under Section 504, an individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning or working.
There are three questions to consider in determining whether a person's impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities:
- What is the nature and severity of the impairment?
- How long will it last or is expected to last?
- What is its permanent or long-term impact or expected impact?
Temporary, non-chronic impairments that do not last for a long time and which have little or no long-term impact usually are not considered to be disabilities.
The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for the enforcement and investigation of compliance with Section 504. Federal financial assistance to a local school district is contingent on compliance with Section 504 and other civil rights laws. The Office for Civil Rights may determine that federal funds should be withheld from local school systems that are not in compliance with civil rights legislation.
For Bulloch County Schools, Jeff Tysinger, Ph.D., the executive director of the school district's Compliance & Program Evaluation Department, is the Student Program Accessibility/Section 504 and Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator.
Address questions, concerns or complaints relating to the school district's equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination policies and practices to one of the following officials: Bulloch County Schools, 150 Williams Road, Suite A, Statesboro, GA 30458, (912)212-8500:
- Allissa Baxter, Chief Human Resources Officer - Equal Opportunity Coordinator for Employees; Title IX Coordinator for Employees
- Kelly Spence, Executive Director of Academic Support – Title IX Coordinator for Students;
- Jeff Tysinger, Ph.D., Executive Director of Compliance & Program Evaluation – Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator;
- Bethany Gilliam, Director of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education; or
- Michael Powell, Federal Programs Director
When a school is informed that a student has Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the school is required to utilize appropriate educational strategies.These strategies can be documented through the use of the Response to Intervention model. This is a model in which a student with academic or behavioral difficulties is provided one or more research-based interventions. The student's progress is monitored frequently to evaluate whether or not interventions are sufficient to assist the student in making progress. If, after a determined period of time, the student does not progress in spike of the interventions, referral to a 504 team to determine eligibility will be made.
For example, if behavior is the manifestation of the condition, then the successful development of a behavior management plan that meets the school's obligations under the federal law. If the student is manifesting attention problems, which are affecting learning, the school can develop strategies to address those within the regular classroom. In cases in which the ADD results in behavior or attention problems which are so severe that they cannot be accommodated within the regular classroom, Section 504 requires the school to provide special services which will enable the student to benefit from an educational program. Students with ADD or ADHD might qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as a student suffering from another health impairment (OHI). The school should determine if a referral to special education for consideration of OHI eligibility is appropriate.