Section 504 Resource Office
- Section 504
- Parent Information and Resources
- Section 504/Dyslexia Assessment Information
- Section 504/Bulletin 1903 Implementation and Information Review
- EQUAL OPPORTUNITY - Section 504 Compliance & Grievance Processes
Section 504 which was included in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed by Congress prohibits discrimination against persons with a handicap in any program that receives federal financial assistance. The Act defines a person with a disability as anyone whom:
- has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (major life activities include activities such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working);
- has a record of such an impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment;
In order to fulfill its obligation under Section 504, the Tangipahoa Parish School District recognizes a responsibility to avoid discrimination in policies and practices regarding its personnel and students. No discrimination against any person with a disability will be permitted in any of the programs and practices in the school system.
The school district has specific responsibilities under Section 504, which include the responsibility to identify, evaluate, and if the child is determined to be eligible under Section 504, to afford access to appropriate educational services.
If the parent or guardian disagrees with the determination made by the professional staff of the school district, he/she has a right to a hearing with an impartial hearing officer.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) also specifies rights related to educational records. This act gives the parent or guardian the right to: (1) inspect and review his/her child's educational records, (2) make copies of these records, (3) receive a list of all individuals having access to these records, (4) ask for an explanation of any item in the records, (5) ask for an amendment to any report on the grounds that it is inaccurate, misleading, or violates the child’s rights, and (6) a hearing on the issue if the school refuses to make the amendment.
Note: Should a parent disagree with the evaluation and/or Accommodation Plan, contact Deondra Warner Section 504 Coordinator, at (985) 748-2477 to intervene and determine if grievance procedures or due process procedures need to be initiated.
TPSS - 504 and SBLC School Chairperson Contacts
A Section 504 assessment should be initiated due to the following:
- Parent Request-written parent request for an assessment, - or -
- SBLC/504 suspects that a student has characteristics of dyslexia, which is supported by the Dyslexia Screening Checklist, - or
- SBLC/504 suspects that a student may qualify for Other Section 504 services. Information from a teacher(s) and qualified professional gives evidence that the student has a disability which is substantially limits his/her ability to learn. If it is a medical condition, appropriate documentation and implications from a qualified physician or practitioner should support this. The school nurse should be consulted and could make recommendations.
Individual Accommodation Plans
Teachers who will be responsible for the implementation of the plan must participate in its development and/or have the opportunity to review with SBLC/504. Every year all teachers of the student should review and sign the Teacher Verification Form indicating that they have a copy of the plan and agree to implement it.
The Individual Accommodation Plan is reviewed annually to determine if the student is still eligible and if the accommodations continue to be appropriate; however, the parent or school personnel could request a review at any time.
The principal or designee should sign the plan along with other SBLC/504 members. Parent signature is encouraged but is not necessary.
1. Section 504
• federal legislative act /law (civil rights legislation) that is designed to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities
• component of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
• applies to entities that receive federal funds
2. American Disabilities Act (ADA)
• civil rights law for persons with disabilities passed in 1990
• applies to every entity in the country with the exception of churches and private clubs
3. The Louisiana Law for the Education of Dyslexic Students
• law for identification and services within the regular education program for students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia
• all students in LA are screened before the end of 3rd grade, if parent gives permission, by using Bulletin 1903
4. Bulletin 1903 Screening
• Five step process for the evaluation and determination of programs for students suspected of having characteristics of dyslexia or other related disorders according to the Louisiana Law for the Education of Dyslexic Students
5. Definition of Disability under Section 504
• has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working)
6. Substantial Limitation
• unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform (not the optimal performance level for a person, but the average)
7. Specific Requirements for Schools regarding Section 504:
• annually identify children with disabilities
• provide a “free appropriate public education”
• educate with nondisabled students to the maximum extent
• establish procedural safeguards to enable parents to participate in decisions
• afford children an equal opportunity to participate in all services and activities
• can be made by anyone - usually teachers and parents
• referral should be put in writing
• SBLC and/or Section 504 committee reviews all information about student and determines if student is likely eligible
• evaluation determines if there is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity - and if so, what types of accommodations
• determine types of accommodations
• Re-evaluations are conducted every three years on or before anniversary date, unless needed sooner
10. Individual Accommodation Plan
• interventions/accommodations for environment, teaching strategies, materials, time, behavior concerns
• teacher must receive and sign for copy of accommodation plans (Teacher Receipt of Section 504 Documents)
• teacher must implement the accommodations on the plans
• teacher should document implementation of the accommodation - examples: write on student’s paper - Test Read Aloud, date, and initial or document in grade book
• I.A.P.’s are reviewed annually
• teacher should have input on I.A.P.
• parents are invited; however, if they do not show, the meeting is held and a copy sent
11. Due Process
• procedural safeguards are in place and parent/student rights are distributed at all meetings
• parents have right to examine and obtain copies of all school records
• same procedure as Special Education students
• expulsion or suspensions of 10 or more days are considered a change in placement and require a manifest determination (unless student needs to be removed because of extreme circumstance)
• manifest determination shows if there is a relationship between the behavior and the disability - if there is, then the school must consider the current placement and consider changes - if there is no relationship between the behavior and the disability, then the student can be disciplined as any other student
• drug and alcohol abuse are not protected under Section 504
13. POINTS TO REMEMBER
• Section 504 does not ensure remediation. It provides an “even playing field” through accommodations.
• Multisensory Reading Programs (Project Read/Wilson Reading) are to be provided for children that qualify under the Louisiana Dyslexic Law and meet the criteria of program eligibility
• Accommodations will be routinely provided as designed.
• Teachers should inform the principal or SBLC Chairperson in writing of any student that appears to have an educational, social, or emotional problem.
• All information concerning students is confidential.
• Teachers should create a paper trail documenting accommodations. Legally teachers are responsible.
• Dyslexia is a difficulty with language. It is characterized by problems with expressive or receptive, oral or written language. Intelligence is not the problem.
• 504 is a civil rights law that protects disabled individuals from discrimination.
• Parents cannot refuse IDEA (Special Education) and elect to have Section 504 accommodations. When the parent rejects IDEA services, the parent essentially rejects what is offered under Section 504.
• Notice must be given to parents under Section 504 before an evaluation is completed. Section 504 does not contain any consent requirements; however, OCR (Office of Civil Rights) has taken the position that parental consent is necessary before initial evaluation. Tangipahoa Parish adheres to this policy.
• Placement decisions concerning Section 504 and students must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options.
• An accommodation is not to be “if needed”. Either the accommodation is given or not. On standardized tests, accommodations are to be the same as on the classroom test.
WHAT IS SECTION 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the subsequent American with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, is intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination against persons with disabilities. In essence, Section 504 was enacted to “level the playing field.” This legislation protects the civil rights of people with disabilities, i.e., physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. It prohibits organizations that receive federal funds from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals on the sole basis of a disability. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is enforced under guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
WHAT IS THE INFORMAL GRIEVANCE LADDER?
504 STUDENT/PARENT/GUARDIAN INFORMAL GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
The purpose of this procedure is to secure, at the most immediate level possible, an equitable solution to a grievance under Section 504. Grievances filed and all communications, both oral and written, shall be confidential unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
A grievance under this Section shall be limited to issues involving a qualifying disability under Section 504, including but not limited to, the identification/misidentification of a qualifying disability under Section 504, placement decisions related to a qualifying disability, intervention decisions related to a qualifying disability, accommodations related to a qualifying disability, or related services decisions regarding a qualifying disability.
A student/parent/guardian must first contact the teacher or school personnel with whom the problem arises. It is recommended, but not required at Level One, that the grievance be communicated in written form with a request for a conference with the teacher or school personnel. The conference shall be held within five school (5) days of receipt of the grievance.
If the matter is not resolved at Level One, the grieving party shall have a right to appeal and request a conference with the designated Section 504 Chairperson at the school site. The request shall be in writing or via e-mail. The request should state the nature of the problem giving rise to the grievance. When possible, the School Principal or his/her designee will attend the Level Two conference. The parties will endeavor to resolve the issues when possible. Any resolution shall be reduced to writing and signed by all parties. In the event that a resolution is not reached at Level Two, the 504 Chairperson shall state the reason(s) for denial of the grievance in writing to the grieving party. This written statement of denial shall be mailed to the grieving party within five (5) school days of the Level Two conference.
If the matter is not resolved at Level Two or school personnel fails to timely meet with the grieving party, the grieving party shall have a right to appeal and request a conference with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board Section 504 Coordinator. Any resolution shall be reduced to writing and signed by all parties. In the event that resolution is not reached at Level Three, the Tangipahoa Parish School System Section 504 Coordinator shall state the reason(s) for denial of the grievance in writing to the grieving party.
Deondra Warner, Section 504 Coordinator
Tangipahoa Parish School System
59656 Puleston Road, Amite, Louisiana 70422
Office: (985) 748-2477
Fax: (985) 748-2455
HOW DO I FILE A FORMAL GRIEVANCE UNDER SECTION 504 AND TITLE II RELATED TO ACCESSIBLITY?
SECTION 504 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board has adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by the Office of Civil Rights regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 USC 794.) Section 504 states, in part, that "no otherwise qualified disabled individual ... shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance..."
Complaints shall be addressed to:
Section 504 Coordinator
Tangipahoa Parish School System
59656 Puleston Road
Amite, LA 70422
The Section 504 Coordinator has been designated to coordinate Section 504 compliance efforts.
1. A complaint shall be filed in writing, containing the name, address and telephone number of the person filing it as well as that person's relationship with the School Board (i.e., employer, parent, student, etc.), and briefly describing the alleged violation of the regulations. If the person filing is different from the complainant, the name of the individual who is the subject of the alleged Section 504 violation shall be given, the person's address and telephone number, and the identification of the school the individual is associated with shall be part of the descriptive narrative.
2. A complaint must be filed within thirty (30) calendar days after the complainant, or the individual formally filing said complaint, becomes aware of the alleged violation, otherwise the complainant waives his/her right of action. The only exception would be if mitigating circumstances exist such as, lack of knowledge, fraud, or duress, in which case an equitable amount of time shall be allowed on a case by case basis.
3. An investigation, as may be appropriate, shall follow a filing of complaint. The investigation shall be conducted by the Section 504 Coordinator. These rules contemplate informal but thorough investigations, affording all interested persons and their representatives, if any, an opportunity to submit written evidence relevant to complaint. All written evidence, whenever received, shall be stamped as of the date received and shall be made available to all parties to the complaint.
Under the Office of Civil Rights regulations, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board need not process complaints from applicants for employment or from applicants for admission to post-secondary educational institutions.
4. A written determination as to the validity of the complaint and a description of the resolution, if any, shall be issued by the Section 504 Coordinator and a copy forwarded to the complainant no later than fifteen (15) working days after its filing.
5. The Section 504 Coordinator shall maintain the files and records of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board relating to the complaints filed.
6. The complainant can request a reconsideration of the case in instances where he or she is dissatisfied with the resolution. The request for reconsideration shall be made within fifteen (15) working days to:
Tangipahoa Parish School System
59656 Puleston Road
Amite, LA 70422
The Assistant Superintendent shall render a written decision within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the complete file. The STANDARD OF REVIEW for the appeal shall be that of arbitrary and capricious, that is, the review officer shall not take new evidence, but shall judge the initial hearing officer's decision only as to whether or not he/she had a valid objective reason for his/her decision and that his/her decision was fairly arrived at considering all equal protection ramifications.
7. The right of a person to a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint filed hereunder shall not be impaired by the person's pursuit of other remedies such as the filing of a Section 504 complaint with the responsible federal department or agency. Using this grievance procedure is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies.
8. These rules shall be construed to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, meet appropriate due process standards and assure that the Tangipahoa Parish School Board complies with Section 504 and its implementing regulations.
Ref: 29 USC 794 (Nondiscrimination under Federal Grants and Programs)
Board minutes, 11-17-92
Tangipahoa Parish School Board