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504 Procedure Manual
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), as amended, is designed to eliminate discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 requires that no qualified student who demonstrates a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., self-care, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, learning, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, operation of a major bodily function, and communicating) shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subject to discrimination in any program or activity offered by Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS). An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it substantially limits a major life activity when it is active.
The determination of impact to one or more major life activities must be made without regard to any ameliorative effects of mitigating measures (i.e., medication, medical supplies, equipment, low-vision devices, prosthetics, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies).
FCPS shall offer a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability. Services provided to qualified students are not required to produce identical results or level of achievement with nondisabled peers. Services must be designed to offer an equal opportunity to gain the same benefit within the most integrated setting appropriate.
A student who does not have a disability, but has a record of, or is regarded as, having a disability is protected under Section 504 insofar as an alleged discriminatory action based on that history or perception. The fact that a student has a “record of” or is “regarded as” having an impairment is insufficient by itself to require accommodations.
FCPS has a responsibility to locate, identify and evaluate those students who are believed to qualify as students with disabilities under Section 504.
When there is reason to suspect that a student has a disability and is in need of accommodations, modifications, and/or services within the general education classroom, a referral shall be made to the local screening committee (LSC) for review.
Referrals can be made either orally or in writing; both types of referrals are documented in EdPlan®.
If parents make a referral to a teacher, the parent should be directed to the principal or designee selected to receive referrals. Whether provided orally or in writing, the date the referral is received must be noted in EdPlan® and begins the 10 business day timeline for scheduling the local screening committee meeting as provided below.
The LSC must convene within ten business days following the receipt of a referral.
The LSC shall consist of at least three (3) persons, but more as needed:
- school administrator/designee (Chair);
- the child’s general education teacher(s);
- specialist as appropriate for the nature of the referral question;
- The school nurse if medical concerns are to be addressed; and
- The parents/guardians will be invited to participate and their attendance is highly desirable. The parent must be provided a copy of Section 504 Procedural Safeguards.
The parents must be invited to the LSC meeting in writing by way of a Section 504 Meeting Notice. The parents must be notified of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to participate; however, the meeting must be held within ten business days of the referral date. If parents cannot attend the meeting, school staff members should consider alternative ways for the parents to participate, i.e., conference call.
During the LSC meeting, the committee should review information from a variety of sources.
The information reviewed should pertain to the student’s functioning in the school environment and should include, as available: educational records such as aptitude and achievement tests, report cards, and/or teacher recommendations; oral or written observations; evaluations of adaptive behavior; social and cultural background; medical, psychological, and/or other specialty reports; and parent information.
The following options are available to the committee:
- Request evaluations: The LSC may decide that additional information is required to determine whether or not a student is eligible under Section 504/ADA. In that case, the committee must decide specifically what additional information is needed. The meeting is then tabled until the assessments are completed.
- Parental permission must be obtained by the LSC prior to the initiation of any formal assessments/evaluations.
- Once parental permission is obtained, the LSC chair will assign the assessments/evaluations to appropriate staff.
- Assessment/evaluations are to be completed and the LSC meeting reconvened within 65 business days of the initial referral to consider assessments/evaluations and determine eligibility of the student under Section 504.
- Determine the student eligible: The LSC may decide that sufficient documentation exists to determine whether the student qualifies for protection under Section 504/ADA and requires a Section 504 Plan. If the student is found eligible, a Section 504/ADA Plan must be prepared within 30 calendar days of the eligibility determination.
- Refer case to the Child Study Team: The committee may determine that the student may be eligible for special education services under the IDEA. In that case, the committee shall refer the student to the Child Study Team and notify the parents of this decision. All appropriate special education procedures will apply. During this time period, a Section 504/ADA plan may be developed if the student is found eligible under 504/ADA and implemented in conjunction with the Child Study recommendations.
- The LSC may meet as many times as are required to meet the student’s needs.
- The parents shall be invited to attend all meetings through the 504 meeting invitation form (located in EdPlan).
- A copy of the meeting minutes and a copy of Section 504 Procedural Safeguards shall be provided to the parents at the meeting. Prior Written Notice shall be provided within ten business days of the meeting. If they did not attend, all documentation is to be forwarded to them.
- All original documentation is to be maintained in student’s file (Scholastic Record).
If the student qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504, a committee of people knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data and the placement options shall develop a 504 plan. Typically, the knowledgeable committee is made up of staff members who work directly with, or supervise, the student in the educational setting. The 504 plan is a statement of the required accommodations, modifications, and/or services that FCPS will provide to the student.
The knowledgeable committee must include the following people:
- Principal or designee;
- Teacher(s) who are, or will be, working with the student. (Whenever possible, the committee should include those persons who will be responsible for implementing the proposed accommodations, modifications, and/or services.)
- Other committee members such as the school psychologist, school nurse, school social worker, or school counselor may be included as appropriate to the needs of the student.
- Parents must be invited to the Section 504 meeting.
Use the Notice of Section 504 Meeting form to invite the parents to the meeting.
The knowledgeable committee reviews the specific needs of the student in the educational setting and completes a Section 504 Plan in EdPlan®. The 504 Plan includes accommodations, modifications, and/or services necessary to provide the student an equal opportunity to access programs and activities and to demonstrate achievement. The accommodations, modifications, and/or services shall:
- Reflect the unique needs of the student.
- Relate directly to the area of impairment.
- Address only what is necessary to ensure that the student has the opportunity to access programs and activities provided by the school division.
- Be specific enough to clearly indicate when and where the accommodations, modifications, and/or services will be provided during the school day and during school-related and/or sponsored activities.
The focus of the plan shall be on what is necessary for the student as a result of the impact his/her disability has on one or more major life activities. The knowledgeable committee shall determine whether the student who qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504 requires classroom testing accommodations and whether those accommodations or modifications should be provided for any state and/or district-wide assessments. These decisions shall be recorded on the appropriate 504 Plan Accommodations. Testing accommodations should be consistent with the classroom instruction accommodations that are already included in student’s 504 Plan.
If the knowledgeable committee considers the read aloud or calculator accommodations, use the Read Aloud Criteria form and/or the Calculator Criteria form to determine whether the student meets the criteria to utilize the specific accommodations on the SOL tests.
The knowledgeable committee shall determine whether the student that qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504 should be considered for the Virginia Grade Level Alternative (VGLA) or Virginia Substitute Evaluation Program (VSEP). The appropriate VGLA or VSEP criteria form shall be completed to determine if the student meets the state criteria for participation in the alternative assessment program.
A copy of the Section 504 Plan shall be provided to the parents following its completion. Parental consent is not required prior to the implementation of a 504 Plan for a student. Parents are to be provided with a Prior Witten Notice within ten business days of the meeting.
The principal is responsible for adherence to the overall procedures and implementation of 504 Plans. Each individual working with or supervising the student shall be provided access to the 504 Plan and will comply with the applicable components.
The Plan remains in effect as specified until either a new plan is developed at least annually or the knowledgeable committee determines through reevaluation that the student no longer qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504.
The principal or designee is responsible for ensuring that 504 Plans are reviewed at least annually or more frequently as circumstances warrant. The purpose of this review is to determine the appropriateness of the Plan and to make any needed modifications. The participants in the annual meeting should be those individuals relevant to the discussion of the student’s accommodations, modifications, and/or services. At minimum, the committee must consist of at least one of the student’s teachers and a principal or designee. Use Section 504 Meeting Invitation in EdPlan® to invite the parents to the meeting. Update the Section 504 Plan as appropriate.
The knowledgeable committee shall convene to assess whether the behavior requiring disciplinary action was caused by a qualified student’s disability when the following is true:
- A decision is made to remove a Section 504-qualified student from school for more than ten consecutive school days in a school year.
- The Section 504-qualified student is subjected to a series of removals during a school year that accumulates to more than ten school days and constitutes a pattern.
Parents should be notified with sufficient time to allow them the opportunity to attend, participate, and provide input at the causal hearing. The school may use the Section 504 Meeting form to notify the parent of the meeting.
The knowledgeable committee shall complete a Manifestation Determination form and forward it to the Superintendent’s hearing officer when there is a recommendation for expulsion or exclusion for more than ten days:
- If a student is qualified under Section 504 and the disability caused the behavior resulting in disciplinary action, the committee shall determine whether the student’s educational program should be modified.
- If a student is qualified under Section 504 and the disability did not cause the behavior resulting in disciplinary action, the student may be disciplined in the same manner as a nondisabled student, including the cessation of services.
If a student qualified under Section 504 is receiving disciplinary action based on the illegal use and/or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol, and the individual is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs or alcohol, a committee of knowledgeable persons is not required to convene, reevaluate the student, or determine whether the behavior was caused by the disability.
When a student transfers into a school and is qualified as a student with a disability under Section 504, a knowledgeable committee in the receiving school shall review the existing 504 Plan to determine the Plan’s appropriateness to the current educational setting. The knowledgeable committee may decide to transfer the Plan that was received onto FCPS forms, write a new Plan more appropriate to the current educational setting, or reevaluate the student in order to consider if the student no longer qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504.
The knowledgeable committee shall conduct a reevaluation of each student’s qualification as a student with a disability under Section 504:
- Every three years;
- More frequently if circumstances warrant.
The date of the student’s initial or most-recent reevaluation of qualification as disabled under Section 504 is documented on the 504 Plan. The reevaluation date is then calculated by adding three years to the initial or most recent reevaluation review date. Prior to the reevaluation review date, information should be collected from teachers and other school staff members who work with the student for review at the reevaluation meeting. The Teacher Report on Student Performance form can be used to collect this information.
The knowledgeable committee shall convene a reevaluation meeting with the purpose of reviewing evaluation information and determining if the student continues to qualify as disabled under Section 504.
If it is determined that additional individual assessments are needed in order to determine if the student continues to qualify, the Parent Permission to Evaluate shall be completed and signed by the parents prior to the administration of any assessments. Upon completion of assessments, the knowledgeable committee will reconvene and consider continued qualification under Section 504.
Forms documenting the referral, evaluation, qualification, and 504 plan of a student under Section 504 should be maintained in the student’s scholastic record. If a student transfers to another school within FCPS, the student’s educational file, including all Section 504 information, is to be forwarded to the new school in accordance with regulations.
The student’s parents may examine their child’s educational record upon request. The principal or designee is responsible for keeping a record of those students for whom a 504 Plan has been developed, along with the anticipated review date for each student’s 504 Plan, and the date of each student’s reevaluation. The date of the 504 Plan shall be entered in the student information system for each qualified student. This information shall be reviewed and updated at the beginning of each school year.
FCPS or the parent or guardian of a student (or an adult student) with a disability as defined by Section 504 may request an impartial hearing to resolve any disagreement regarding the identification; evaluation; accommodations, modifications, and/or services; provision of FAPE; or causality determination of the student with a disability. Requests for a hearing that raise issues pursuant to both Section 504 and IDEA may, at the discretion of the hearing officer, be heard together through the IDEA hearing procedures provided by federal and state law, regulations, and FCPS policies.
Assistance will be provided to persons who may need it in order to comply with the requirements to file a written request for an impartial hearing.
Requests for an impartial hearing shall be made in writing and delivered to the Special Education Director at 430 E. Shirley Ave. Warrenton Virginia 20186. The request shall include the name of the student, the address of the residence of the student (or available contact information in the case of a homeless student), the name of the school the student is attending, a description of the nature of the problem with supporting facts, and a proposed resolution of the problem.
If the request does not include all of the required information, it may be returned to the parents within ten school days of receipt by the director with a request to provide the missing information within five additional school days. The remaining procedures will not proceed until the additional information is received from the parents.
A hearing must be requested within ninety (90) days of the dispute giving rise to the hearing.
FCPS will provide a written response to the request for hearing. The response will be delivered to both the parents and the hearing officer within 15 school days of receipt of a request for a hearing, which request includes all of the required information. If FCPS requests an impartial hearing, parents will have the same option to respond.
An impartial hearing officer will be appointed by the Special Education Director from the list of special education due process hearing officers maintained by the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The director will contact the Office of the Executive Secretary to request the name of a hearing officer within five school days of receipt of a request for a hearing that includes all of the required information for filing a request for a hearing, and will follow up as necessary until a hearing officer is appointed.
Prior to the hearing, the hearing officer shall:
- Convene a prehearing conference with the parties, unless the hearing officer determines such a conference is unnecessary.
- Identify the specific issues to be addressed during the hearing based on the request for hearing and any response provided by the other party.
- Schedule a hearing date and location with input from the parties, and notify the parties in writing of such information.
- Ascertain whether the parties will be represented by counsel.
- Ascertain from the parents whether the hearing will be open or closed.
- Ensure that the hearing will be accurately recorded by a court reporter, which is paid for his/her attendance by the school system.
- Have the authority to require that the student be evaluated.
- Require the parties to exchange a list of witnesses and any documents to be presented during the hearing at least five business days in advance of the hearing unless otherwise permitted by the hearing officer for good cause shown, with a copy provided to the hearing officer as well.
The parties have the following rights in the hearing:
- To be represented by counsel with each party being responsible for their own attorneys’ fees.
- To present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
- To request that the hearing officer prohibit the introduction of evidence or the testimony of a witness that had not been disclosed five business days in advance of the hearing.
- To obtain, at their own expense, a copy of the transcript of the hearing.
The hearing officer shall ensure the following in connection with the hearing:
- An atmosphere conducive to impartiality and that fairness exists.
- The issues raised in the hearing are limited to those identified in the request for a hearing and any response filed, or to any subsequent amendment to the request or the response when allowing such amendment is mutually agreed to by the parties or as otherwise permitted by the hearing officer for good cause shown.
- The parties and their attorneys, advocates, or advisors comply with the special education hearing officer's rules, and with relevant laws and regulations.
- Actions are taken to move the case to conclusion, including dismissing the pending proceeding if either party refuses to comply in good faith with the special education hearing officer's orders/directives.
- An accurate record of the proceedings is maintained.
- The party requesting the hearing has the burden of proof.
- The hearing is completed within 45 calendar days of receipt of the request for a hearing, unless an extension is granted at the request of either party for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.
The hearing officer shall issue a decision:
A written decision shall be issued to all parties setting forth findings of fact and conclusions of law based on evidence presented in the hearing. The decision shall be issued within 15 business days of the conclusion of the hearing. The decision is final and binding unless either party files a timely appeal in an appropriate court.
Any questions regarding these procedures should be directed to the Special Education Director.