Shoreline School District Student Services SHORELINE, WASHINGTON SECTION 504 PROCESS

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1 Shoreline School District Student Services SHORELINE, WASHINGTON SECTION 504 PROCESS SECTION 504 TEAM A Section 504 Team should include individuals knowledgeable about a student's disability, the meaning of evaluation data, and district programs and options. The Section 504 Team composition will vary depending upon situations. It is recommended that the Section 504 Team be composed of: a building Administrator, the Section 504 Case Manager, at least one of the studentʼs general education teachers, a Counselor, at the secondary level the studentʼs parents/guardians, and the student, when appropriate The Section 504 Team convenes to: review Section 504 evaluation results, determine Section 504 eligibility, document Section 504 Team decisions in writing, develop and periodically review Section 504 Plans, track the progress of the Section 504 eligible students in a building, and conduct periodic Section 504 reevaluations. SECTION 504 REFERRAL PROCESS Parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, or other staff bring a concern about a student to the building Section 504 Team. Interventions and strategies are put in place over time and the effects of those are tracked and discussed at subsequent Section 504 Team meetings. If the interventions and strategies are not successful, the building Psychologist initiates a Section 504 Referral. That would be done when there is reason to suspect that the student has a disability that substantially limits their ability to participate in or benefit from school, and requires accommodations, special instruction, and/or services under Section 504 in order to participate in and/or benefit from school as adequately as their nondisabled peers. The IEP On-Line paperwork system would be used for this process. The School Psychologist is the Case Manager for Section 504 Referrals in both elementary and secondary buildings. 1

2 DETERMINING WHETHER TO EVALUATE The Section 504 Team reviews the studentʼs school file in order to obtain academic, social, and behavioral information. It also consults with teachers, parents/guardians, and any other individuals knowledgeable about the student. If the Section 504 Team determines that an evaluation is needed, parent consent for that evaluation will be sought. If the Section 504 Team determines that an evaluation is not needed, parents will be provided with a notice of that decision and a copy of their procedural rights. The IEP On-Line paperwork system would be used for this process. The School Psychologist is the Case Manager for Section 504 Evaluations in both elementary and secondary buildings. SECTION 504 EVALUATION PROCESS Upon receipt of signed parental permission, the Section 504 Team conducts an evaluation in the specific areas of educational need to determine whether or not the student has a disability which substantially limits their ability to benefit from and/or participate in school. The IEP On-Line paperwork system would be used for this process. If Section 504 eligibility is met, the Section 504 Team documents any needed accommodations, instruction, or services. There are no specific tests or procedures required for a Section 504 evaluation. The evaluation procedures used to determine eligibility under Section 504 may include some, or all of the evaluation procedures that are used for evaluating students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]. Section 504 evaluation procedures must ensure that assessments and other evaluation materials: are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory; are administered in the studentʼs primary mode of communication; are valid and reliable; are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and are administered in conformance with the instructions provided by the test publishers. There is no automatic right to an independent evaluation at public expense under Section

3 SECTION 504 ELIGIBILITY PROCESS Once an evaluation has been completed, the Section 504 Team meets to determine eligibility. All three parts of the following test for eligibility must be met for a student to qualify as a student with a disability under Section 504. DECISIONS TO BE MADE: Does this student have a mental or physical disability as defined by Section 504? Does the disability substantially limit their ability to participate in and/or benefit from school as adequately as their nondisabled peers? Does the student, because of the disability, require accommodations, special instruction, and/or services in order to participate in and/or benefit from school as adequately as thier nondisabled peers? If YES, the student is eligible under Section 504: Complete a written Section 504 eligibility report Proceed with the development of a Section 504 Plan If NO, the student is not eligible under Section 504: Discuss recommendations and interventions that may be appropriate to address the referral concerns. Complete a written Section 504 eligibility report Provide notice of the decision to parents NOTE: A disability by itself does not qualify a student for protection under Section 504. It is essential to consider all parts of the test for eligibility listed above. For example, a student may have a disability, but may have developed compensatory skills that correct for or reduce the impact of the disability. An example is a student with an attention deficit disorder who has developed study habits and memory strategies so that they are able to earn average or above average grades in general education classes. A disability exists, but the studentʼs ability to participate in and benefit from school is not substantially limited. Therefore, the student is not deemed disabled nor eligible for Section 504 accommodations. Similarly, a medical diagnosis does not automatically qualify a student for services under Section 504. The medical condition must substantially limit the studentʼs ability to participate in and/or benefit from school. CONSIDER ALSO AT THIS TIME: Does this student also appear to have a disability under one of the IDEA eligibility categories? If YES: Refer the student to the building Student Study Team If the student is eligible for services under both IDEA and Section 504, the former takes precedence. Accommodations would then be delivered through an Individualized Education Program [IEP]. If NO: This completes the eligibility determination process. Proceed with the Section 504 process for eligible or ineligible students as outlined above. 3

4 DEVELOPING A SECTION 504 PLAN A Section 504 Plan is developed by a Team that may include the same individuals who were involved in the determination of Section 504 eligibility. While not mandated, a similar team composition is recommended. The IEP On-Line paperwork system would be used for this process. The Section 504 Team will determine what accommodations, special instruction, and/or services the student requires in order to participate in and/or benefit from school as adequately as their nondisabled peers. Written parental consent is only required for initial Section 504 Plans. Although not required for subsequent Plans, the Section 504 Team is strongly encouraged to involve parents in the development of those Section 504 Plans, and to have them sign those Plans. A copy of completed Section 504 Plans is always provided to parents. IMPLEMENTING A SECTION 504 PLAN A Case Manager is designated to: monitor the implementation of a Section 504 Plan; track student progress; ensure that appropriate staff are aware of the Section 504 Plan; ensure that the Section 504 Plan transitions with the student through classes, staff changes, and building changes. The School Psychologist is the Case Manager for Section 504 Plans in elementary buildings. The School Counselor is the Case Manager for Section 504 Plans in secondary buildings. PERIODIC REVIEW OF A SECTION 504 PLAN Section 504 Plans should be reviewed at least annually, and revised as necessary. Completing this review in a meeting with the parents is recommended, but not required. The School Psychologist initiates Section 504 Plan reviews in elementary buildings. The School Counselor initiates Section 504 Plan reviews in secondary buildings. Section 504 Plans should be reviewed: during the reevaluation process, when data suggests the need for a change, and before any significant changes in placement. Examples of significant changes in placement include, but are not limited to: disciplinary actions that exclude a student from school for more than 10 consecutive days in a school year; disciplinary actions that are each 10 school days or fewer in duration that create a pattern of exclusion due to the length of each suspension, the proximity in time of the suspensions, the total amount of time of the suspensions, and the similarities of the behaviors that led to the suspensions); significant changes in the number or type of accommodations, special instruction, and/or services in the studentʼs Section 504 Plan. The Section 504 Team should review the contents of the Section 504 Plan, and discuss whether the Section 504 Plan is meeting the studentʼs identified needs, if additional evaluation information is needed, and whether or not the Section 504 Plan needs revision. 4

5 SECTION 504 REEVALUATION PROCESS Section 504 requires a periodic review or reevaluation, but specifies no time frame for that. The reevaluation will be in compliance if it is conducted: at minimum every three years, and prior to any significant change in placement, (e.g., initiating or discontinuing a service, significantly increasing or decreasing the amount of a service, and certain disciplinary removals from school such as long-term suspension and expulsion). Questions that should be addressed by the reevaluation include: Is the Section 504 Plan meeting the studentʼs identified needs; Is there a need for additional assessment information; Does the student continue to be eligible for Section 504 accommodations; and Is there a need to revise the contents of the Section 504 Plan? It is recommended that the Section 504 Team include the parents in the reevaluation process. However, this is not mandated by Section 504 regulations. Section 504 requires notice to parents prior to reevaluation. The School Psychologist is the Case Manager for Section 504 Reevaluations in both elementary and secondary buildings. TRANSITIONS Each Section 504 Plan must be reviewed periodically, and must be reviewed when significant changes occur. Examples of significant changes that may require a review and possible revision of the Section 504 Plan include: changes in classes at semester or trimester; and a move to another building,such as a move from an elementary school to a middle school, or from a middle school to a high school]. The Section 504 Team needs to have a procedure in place that guarantees that Section 504 Plans are discussed with new staff during the school year (e.g., at semester change, or after moves to a new building). The Section 504 Case Manager should ensure that this information is forwarded to the appropriate staff and buildings. For more complete information, see PERIODIC REVIEW OF A SECTION 504 PLAN on the preceding page. 5

6 DISCIPLINE: MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION Students with disabilities are protected from being improperly excluded from school for disciplinary reasons resulting from misconduct. Disciplinary exclusions that constitute a significant change in their educational placement cannot be implemented until the District has satisfied the procedures outlined below. Prior to any disciplinary action which constitutes a change in placement, a team will conduct a Manifestation Determination, and notify parents of the decision. The IEP On-Line paperwork system would be used for this process. To complete a Manifestation Determination, the Team should review evaluation findings, obtain information relating to the behavior in question, obtain staff input about the student, and review the Section 504 Plan developed for the student. Misconduct is a manifestation of a disability if it arises from the disability, is caused by the disability, has a direct and substantial relationship to the disability, or if a disability significantly impairs the studentʼs behavioral controls. Misconduct is not a manifestation of a disability if it bears only a weak relationship to the studentʼs disability. A categorical determination that misconduct is or is not a manifestation of a disability cannot be based on a studentʼs diagnosis or Section 504 eligibility category. The Team must respond AGREE or DISAGREE to the following, with regard to the behavior subject to discipline: The conduct in question had a direct and substantial relationship to the disability. The conduct in question was a direct result of the failure to implement the Section 504 Plan. If the Team AGREES with either or both of the above, the behavior must be considered a manifestation of the disability regular disciplinary action cannot be pursued a review of the studentʼs Section 504 Plan needs to be made any needed changes to the Section 504 Plan must be made a reevaluation should be conducted in order to consider a change of placement or other interventions If the Team DISAGREES with both of the above: regular disciplinary procedures can be used, including suspension and/or expulsion there is no requirement to continue to provide an educational program following exclusion as long as this consistent with District policy for nondisabled students who have been excluded for similar offenses 6

7 STUDENTS WITH DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTIONS Alcohol and drug addictions are disabilities covered by Section 504. There are differences in protections afforded to drug addicted versus alcohol addicted students. There are also differences in protection for students considered currently using and students not currently using. DRUG ADDICTED ALCOHOL ADDICTED Currently Using In Recovery Currently Using In Recovery Can this student be considered disabled under Section 504? No. The district is not obligated to evaluate regardless of the educational impact of the drug addiction. A student currently using drugs may be treated as a nondisabled student. Yes, if the drug addiction is substantially limiting the studentʼs ability to participate in and/or benefit from school, and the student meets the other criteria for Section 504 eligibility. Yes, if the alcoholism is substantially limiting the studentʼs ability to participate in and/or benefit from school, and the student meets the other criteria for Section 504 eligibility. Does Section 504 protect a disabled student who engages in drug or alcohol related misconduct at school, or at school functions? Does Section 504 require a manifestation determination for a student disabled under Section 504 who engages in drug or alcohol related misconduct at school? Can the parent challenge, under Section 504, the decision regarding the disciplinary action? Define illegal use of drugs. No. A district may discipline a disabled student for the illegal use of, or the possession of drugs or alcohol at school or at school-sponsored functions in the same manner and to the same extent as it disciplines nondisabled students. No. The procedures at 34 CFR [regarding manifestation determinations] and [regarding procedural safeguards] are not required for such disciplinary actions. Yes/No. A parent or guardian may challenge the regular education issues raised by the disciplinary action (e.g., whether the student did what he was charged with doing) at a regular education discipline hearing. But, they do not have a right to challenge the disciplinary action under Section 504. In other words, the parent has no right to challenge the disciplinary action by asserting the studentʼs drug or alcohol-related misconduct was disability related. The use of illegal drugs, and the illegal use of prescription drugs (e.g., using Ritalin without a prescription]) Define use. Use that occurred recently enough to justify a reasonable belief that the use is current, or that continuing use is a real and ongoing problem. 7

8 What is meant by drug or alcohol related misconduct at school? This means engaging in the use, sale, or possession of illegal or controlled substances at school or at school functions. REMOVAL IF STUDENT IS A DANGER TO SELF OR OTHERS The District may significantly change a studentʼs placement, by removing the student, when it is believed the student poses a danger to self or others. Prior to removal, a manifestation determination must be accomplished. The Team should involve the appropriate building administrator and the situation should be referred to the Director of Student Services. REMOVAL FOR WEAPONS If a student possesses or uses a weapon at school or a school function: they may be removed from school and placed in an interim alternative educational setting for up to 45 calendar days DUE PROCESS: MEDIATION FILING A COMPLAINT DUE PROCESS HEARING Parents or guardians who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of their children are encouraged to attempt to resolve their disputes through mediation. Mediation can be requested through the Shoreline School District Director of Student Services. There are, in addition, several other options open to parents/guardians, including: filing a complaint through the Director of Student Services, requesting an impartial due process hearing through the Director of Student Services, filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights [OCR], U.S. Department of Education, and filing a complaint in Federal Court. Parents are not required to file a complaint prior to initiating a Due Process Hearing. (Note that this differs for students eligible under IDEA.) Hearings can be requested by the District or by parents. Decisions by Hearing Officers are binding on both parties. Parents have the right to: participate in a Hearing, be represented by an Attorney, have an impartial Hearing Officer, and request review of the Hearing Officerʼs decision. 8

9 Shoreline School District Student Services SHORELINE, WASHINGTON RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SECTION 504 CASE MANAGER (Elementary Buildings) Psychologist: Maintains compliance documentation for Section 504 students Coordinates the Section 504 process from Referral through implementation of Section 504 Plans: Coordinates referrals Facilitates Section 504 meetings, ensuring that minutes are kept Completes Section 504 paperwork using IEP On-Line Facilitates Section 504 evaluation determinations Coordinates the development and implementation of Section 504 Plans shares with appropriate staff Coordinates reviews of Section 504 Plans, and Section 504 Reevaluations Facilitates a review of Section 504 Plans at least annually Facilitates Section 504 reevaluations at least every 3 years, and prior to significant changes Ensures that Section 504 paperwork transitions with students to new buildings and to new schools Advises the Building Administrator and other staff regarding 504 issues, including discipline 9

10 Shoreline School District Student Services SHORELINE, WASHINGTON RESPONSIBILITIES OF SECTION 504 CASE MANAGERS (Secondary Buildings) Psychologist: Helps maintain compliance documentation for Section 504 students Participates in the Section 504 process Completes Section 504 Referral and Evaluation paperwork using IEP On-Line Assists in the development of Section 504 Plans Coordinates Section 504 Reevaluations Facilitates Section 504 reevaluations at least every 3 years Ensures that Section 504 paperwork transitions with students to new buildings and to new schools Advises the Building Administrator and other staff about Section 504 issues, including Manifestation Determinations Counselor: 1. Helps maintain compliance documentation for Section 504 students 2. Participates in the Section 504 process Facilitates Section 504 meetings, ensuring that minutes are kept Completes Section 504 Plans using IEP On-Line 3. Coordinates the implementation of Section 504 Plans shares with appropriate staff Facilitates a review of Section 504 Plans at least annually 4. Ensures that Section 504 Plans transition with students to new buildings and to new schools 5. Advises the Building Administrator and other staff regarding 504 issues 10

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