R2418 SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973 –
It is the policy of the Board of Education that no qualified student with a disability will, solely on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity sponsored by this Board. The Board will also comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act through the implementation of Policy 2460 and Regulations 2460 through 2460.16.
- “Accommodation” means a change in the educational setting, instructional strategies, materials, and/or supplementary/related aids and services that does not significantly alter the content of the curriculum or level of expectation for a student’s performance, but which allows the student to access the regular general education curriculum.
- “Act” means the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- “Aids and Services” means aids and services designed to meet the individual student’s educational needs to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met. 34 CFR §104.33
- “Board” means the Board of Education of this school district.
- “Complainant” means the Board of Education of this school district.
- “Day” means either calendar or working day, as specified in the Act.
- “Disability” means, with respect to an individual, that the individual meets one or more of the following three prongs:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
- A record of such an impairment; or
- Being regarded as having such an impairment.
- “District” means this school district.
- “District 504 Coordinator” means the district official responsible for the coordination of activities relating to compliance with the Act.
- “FAPE” means free appropriate public education. FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the educational needs of a student with a disability to the same extent as the needs of non-disabled students are met.
- “Grievance” means an unresolved problem concerning the interpretation or application of law and regulations regarding discrimination by reason of a disability by an officer or employee of this district.
- “Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act” (IDEA) identifies eligible children and young adults who have specific types of disabilities and, thus, require special education and related services. If they qualify, students receiving services through IDEA may also be eligible for services under Section 504 and ADA.
- “Major life activities” means those of central importance to daily life and include, but are not limited to, functions such as: caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, eating, sitting, writing, standing, reaching, lifting, sleeping, bending, speaking, breathing, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, learning, and working. Major life activities” also include physical or mental impairments that substantially limit the operation of a major bodily function, including, but not limited to: functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, reproductive systems, and the operation of an individual organ within a body system. 28 CFR §35.108; 28 CFR §36.105
- “Mitigating measures” means steps taken to eliminate or reduce the symptoms or impact of an impairment. “Mitigating measures” include, but are not limited to: medication; medical equipment/appliances; mobility devices; low vision devices (not including ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses); prosthetics (including limbs and devices); hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other implantable hearing devices; oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; the use of assistive technology; reasonable modifications or auxiliary aids or services; learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications; and psychotherapy, behavioral, or physical therapies. 42 U.S.C. 126 §12102
- Mitigating measures, must not be used when determining whether an impairment is a disability except for the use of corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses. Mitigating measures may be considered in assessing whether someone is entitled to reasonable accommodation or poses a direct threat.
- “Physical or mental impairment” means any physiological disorder or condition such as, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculosketal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. 28 CFR §35.108(b)(2) and 28 CFR §35.105(b)4
- Physical or mental impairments may include, but are not limited to: contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions; orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy; epilepsy; muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis; cancer;; heart disease; diabetes; intellectual disability; emotional illness; dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic); tuberculosis; drug addiction; and alcoholism.
- Physical or mental impairments do not include: transvestism; transsexualism; homosexuality or bisexuality; gender identity disorders; sexual behavior disorders; pedophilia; exhibitionism; environmental, cultural, and economic disadvantages; pregnancy; physical characteristics; personality traits or behaviors; normal deviations in height, weight, or strength; compulsive gambling; kleptomania; pyromania; and psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs.
- An impairment that is episodic or in remission may be considered a “disability” if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
- Not all impairments are disabilities.
- “Qualified student with a disability” means a student with a disability at the preschool, elementary, or secondary level, who is: (1) of an age at which students without disabilities are provided educational services; (2) of an age at which it is mandatory under State law to provide educational services to students with disabilities; or (3) a student to whom a State is required to provide a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- “Record of such an impairment” means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- “Regarded as having an impairment” means the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to a prohibited action because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, whether or not that impairment substantially limits or is perceived to substantially limit a major life activity.
- For this prong only, the public entity must demonstrate the impairment is or would be both transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor to show an individual is not regarded as having such an impairment. 42 U.S.C. 126 §12102(3)(B)
- A public entity is not required to provide a reasonable modification to an individual meeting the definition of “disability” solely under the “regarded as” prong.
- “Section 504” means Section 504 of the Act.
- “Student” means an individual enrolled in any formal educational program provided by the school district.
- “Substantially limits” means the extent to which the impairment limits a student’s ability to perform a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population, whether or not an individual chooses to forgo mitigating measures. 42 U.S.C. 126 §12102(4); 28 CFR §35.108(d); 28 CFR §35.105(d). The rules of construction when determining whether an impairment substantially limits a student in a major life activity include:
- That it is broadly construed in favor of expansive coverage, to the maximum extent permitted under the Act.
- That it does not demand extensive analysis.
- That it substantially limits one major life activity, but not necessarily other major life activities.
- That it may be episodic or in remission, as long as the disability would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
- That it need not prevent, or significantly or severely restrict, an individual from performing a major life activity.
- That it requires an individualized assessment which does not create an “inappropriately high level of limitation” and is based upon the conditions, manner, or duration under which the individual can perform the major life activity 42 U.S.C . 12102(4)(B).
- That it generally will not require scientific, medical, or statistical evidence (although such evidence can be required where appropriate – evidence that can be considered may include statements or affidavits of affected individuals and school records).
- That the determination is made without regard to ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, except for the use of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error. Non-ameliorative effects, such as the negative side effects of medication or a medical procedure, may also be considered.
- That the effects of an impairment lasting or expected to last less than six months can be substantially limiting for establishing a disability under the first two prongs: “actual disability” or “record of”.
- District 504 Coordinator – 34 C.F.R. §104.7(a)
- The District 504 Coordinator will be responsible for the initial evaluation of all allegations, reasonable accommodations (if required), and re-evaluations.
- The District 504 Coordinator will comply with the mediation and due process requirements pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.6 and 6A:14-2.7 where applicable in cases arising from Section 504.
- Educational Program
- The Board will not, on the basis of a disability, exclude a student with a disability from a program or activity and will take into account the needs of such student in determining the aid, benefits, or services to be provided under a program or activity.
- Identification for special education services under IDEA and accommodations under Section 504 are not mutually exclusive.
- Students not otherwise eligible for special education programs and/or related services pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1 et seq. may be referred to the District 504 Coordinator by the parent or staff member.
- The Board will provide reasonable accommodation(s) to students with disabilities notwithstanding any program and/or related services required pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1 et seq.
- Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) – 34 CFR §104.33
- FAPE must be provided without cost to the student’s parent, except for those fees imposed on a parent of a non-disabled student.
- The district may place a student with a disability in or refer such student to a program other than one it operates as its means of carrying out the provisions of this Regulation.
- The district will continue to maintain responsibility for ensuring the requirements of the Act are met in respect to any student with a disability so placed or referred.
- The district will ensure adequate transportation to and from the program, provided at no greater cost than would be incurred by the parent if the student were placed in a program operated by the district.
(1) The administration will consider the proximity of any alternative setting to the student’s home.
(2) If a public or private residential placement is necessary to provide FAPE to a student with a disability, the placement, including non-medical care, room, and board, shall be provided at no cost to his/her parent.
- Evaluation and Placement – 34 CFR §104.35
- The Board will establish standards and procedures for initial evaluations and periodic re-evaluations of students who need or are believed to need special education and/or related services on the basis of disability.
- Section 504 evaluations may encompass record and work sample review; direct observation in the natural setting; interviews with the student, parent, and school personnel; and/or administration of assessment measures. They do not include independent evaluations.
- It may be determined that additional data is required, including the administration of formal standardized instruments and data on conditions in remission or episodic in nature. Tests and other evaluation materials must meet the following criteria:
(1) Validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and administered by trained personnel;
(2) Tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those designed to provide a single intelligence quotient; and
(3) Accurately reflect aptitude or achievement or whatever else the tests purport to measure, rather than the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (unless the test is designed to measure these particular factors).
- In interpreting evaluation data and in making placement decisions, the district will:
- Draw information from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to: aptitude and achievement tests, medical evaluations, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior;
- Establish procedures to ensure that information obtained from all such sources is documented and carefully considered;
- Ensure that placement decisions are made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, and placement options; and
- Ensure that placement decisions are made in conformity with this Regulation and 34 CFR §104.34.
- The District 504 Coordinator will establish timelines for re-evaluations of students receiving reasonable accommodation(s). A parent may request a re-evaluation at any time upon written request to the District 504 Coordinator.
- Copies of requests for evaluation and related documents will be maintained in a designated Section 504 file folder placed in the student’s cumulative record.
- Section 504 and Special Education
- A student who qualifies for Section 504 services may not qualify for special education under IDEA; likewise, a student who qualifies under IDEA may not qualify under Section 504.
- A referral for a Section 504 evaluation may be made concurrently with a pending special education evaluation. In such instances, the Section 504 evaluation should be conducted during the same timeline utilized for the special education assessment. Generally, the Section 504 evaluation should be conducted in less than sixty days.
- If a student is found eligible under Section 504 prior to the special education team’s findings, a Section 504 Accommodation Plan will be developed pending the special education team’s findings. If the student is then found eligible for special education, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed and the IEP team can incorporate into the IEP any accommodations/services provided in the Section 504 Accommodation Plan.
- A separate Section 504 team meeting will be convened when a student is identified as eligible for special education and no longer requires accommodations/services under Section 504.
- When an IEP team determines a student is not eligible or no longer eligible for special education, there may be circumstances when a Section 504 referral for evaluation may be appropriate and should be considered. The IEP team may document the student is being referred for a Section 504 evaluation, and the eligibility evaluation shall be addressed in a separate Section 504 team meeting.
- Section 504 Accommodation Plan
- The District 504 Coordinator will assist in organizing a team of individuals responsible for receiving referral documents; securing evaluation information; and determining eligibility and appropriate accommodations, related aids or services for eligible students with disabilities. The team must be comprised of people who:
- Are knowledgeable about the student;
- Understand the meaning of evaluation data; and
- Are familiar with placement options.
- The District 504 Coordinator, based on the evaluation of the student eligible for services under Section 504, will prepare a Section 504 Accommodation Plan which may include as relates to the student:
- Date of birth;
- Current educational placement;
- Name of the District 504 Coordinator preparing the Section 504 Accommodation Plan;
- Disabling condition;
(1) Major life activity impaired;
(2) Educational impact; and
(3) Impact on related educational progress.
- Accommodation (as appropriate):
(1) Physical and learning environment;
(5) Medical; and/or
(1) List of individuals participating in the development of the plan, along with their titles and the date(s) of their participation.
(2) Certification by the student’s parent that he or she has participated in the development of the plan and provided consent to its implementation.
(3) A waiver of the fifteen days’ notice prior to the implementation of the plan by the parent if the plan is to be implemented sooner than the fifteen days.
- A Section 504 Accommodation Plan should not:
- Modify the curriculum;
- Exempt a student from a course or subject required for graduation;
- Alter the level of expectation for a student’s performance;
- Provide an extended time accommodation only for standardized testing when it is not required as part of the regular program of evaluation;
- Include any testing accommodations unless authorized by the testing agency; and
- Assign responsibility for implementing Section 504 accommodations to another student.
- A Section 504 Accommodation Plan should:
- Directly relate to a student’s identified needs;
- Be specific, measurable, and tailored to meet students’ identified needs to allow for consistent implementation;
- Be written to incorporate specific symptoms, behavior, or triggers that elicit implementation of the accommodation or service if required only occasionally; and
- Clearly state how much extended time is required based upon a student’s identified needs, if the Section 504 team determines such an accommodation is appropriate.
- Students needing medication:
- Not all students needing medication administered by school staff will require a Section 504 Accommodation Plan. It is not necessary to qualify a student as having a disability that substantially limits a major life activity under Section 504 in order to provide a service that schools perform for all general education students.
- A Section 504 referral with the potential for a subsequent Section 504 Accommodation Plan is appropriate when a student is found to have a disability that substantially limits a major life activity and needs medication administered on a systematic basis to receive equal access to the educational program.
- Nonacademic/Extracurricular Services – 34 CFR §104.37
- Nonacademic and Extracurricular Services may include counseling, physical recreational athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or school clubs, and/or referrals to agencies which provide assistance to students with disabilities and student employment.
- The Board and administration will ensure that students with disabilities are not counseled toward more restrictive career objectives than are nondisabled students with similar interests and abilities.
- The Board will provide to students with disabilities equal opportunity as afforded nondisabled students for participation in physical education courses, athletics, and similar programs and activities.
- The district may offer students with disabilities physical education and athletic activities that are separate or different from those offered to nondisabled students only if the separation or differentiation is consistent with the requirements of 34 CFR §104.34 and only if no student with a disability is denied the opportunity to compete or to participate.
- Grievance Procedure – 34 CFR §104.7(b)
- This grievance procedure shall apply to a student with a disability alleging discrimination under the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- The parent who believes his or her child has a valid basis for a grievance under Section 504 shall file an informal complaint in writing with the District 504 Coordinator stating the specific facts of the grievance and the alleged discriminatory act.
- The District 504 Coordinator will make reasonable efforts to resolve the matter informally by reviewing the grievance with appropriate staff including, but not limited to: the Principal, Child Study Team staff, and/or classroom teacher(s).
- The District 504 Coordinator will investigate and document the complaint including dates of meetings, dispositions, and date(s) of dispositions. The District 504 Coordinator will provide a written decision of the complainant within seven working days of the written complaint.
- If the complainant is not satisfied with the District 504 Coordinator’s written decision, the complainant may appeal the decision in writing, setting out the circumstances that give rise to the alleged grievance. This written appeal must be filed with the District 504 Coordinator within three working days of the complainant’s receipt of the written decision. The written appeal must state the basis for the appeal and the remedy sought by the complainant.
- The District 504 Coordinator will appoint a qualified hearing officer within seven working days of the receipt of the written appeal. The hearing officer will conduct a hearing within seven working days of receipt of the written appeal. The hearing office will give the parent a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised under the initial grievance. The parent may, at his or her own expense, be assisted or represented by individuals of their choice, including legal counsel. The hearing officer will present a written decision to the District 504 Coordinator and aggrieved individual within seven working days of the hearing.
- The complainant may file a written appeal to the Board if not satisfied with the hearing officer’s decision provided the written appeal is submitted to the Superintendent within three working days of the complainant’s receipt of the hearing officer’s written decision. The Board may, but is not required to, conduct a Board hearing on the appeal.
- The complainant may request mediation and due process in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.6 and 2.7 if unsatisfied with the written decision of the Board. If specifically requested by the parent, the aforementioned N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.6 and2.7 grievance procedures must be followed.
Adopted: February 2017