Section 504: Notice of Rightsand Procedural Safeguards
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against disabled persons who may participate in, or receive benefits from, programs receiving federal financial assistance (in our case, public schools). Section 504 ensures that eligible students with a disability receive equal access to services that are provided to non-disabled students and provides protection from discrimination based on the disability.
Description of Section 504 and Applicable District Policies
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (“Section 504”), is a federal civil rights law that protects the rights of students with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Specifically, Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”
As an institution that receives Federal financial assistance, the Plano Independent School District (“Plano ISD” or “District”) maintains applicable Board of Trustees (“Board”) Policies related to Section 504. The relevant board policies include but are not limited to the following Board Policies:
All relevant Board Policies are available online.
General Rights and Procedural Safeguards
As an individual with disabilities, the following rights are provided to the parents, guardians, or the student upon reaching the age of majority in accordance with the Section 504 implementing regulations found at Title 34, Part 104 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“C.F.R.”):
The District has an obligation to identify and locate every qualified individual with a disability (“qualified individual”) residing in the District’s jurisdiction/boundaries who is not receiving a public education and must take appropriate steps to notify persons with a disability and their parents or guardians of the District’s obligation under Section 504 (34 C.F.R. § 104.32). This notice fulfills the District’s obligation under this paragraph.
The District has an obligation to provide all qualified individuals with a free appropriate public education (34 C.F.R. § 104.33).
An education is appropriate when a qualified individual receives the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of the qualified student and are based upon adherence to the procedures outlined in Section 504 and its implementing regulations.
All qualified individuals have the right to be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate based on the individual needs of the qualified student (34 C.F.R. § 104.34(a)).
All qualified individuals have the right to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities, including but not limited to recess, meals, counseling services, and athletics with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate based on the individual needs of the qualified student (34 C.F.R. § 104.34(b)).
All qualified individuals have the right to be educated in comparable facilities, services, and activities to their nondisabled peers (34 C.F.R. § 104.34(c)).
The District shall conduct an evaluation of all students suspected to need special education or related services prior to engaging in placement procedures (34 C.F.R. § 104.35(a)). Parents or guardians have the right to refuse the initial evaluation of a student suspected to have a qualifying disability.
The District must comply with evaluation procedures which ensure that tests and other formal evaluation materials are validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by their producer, and are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need, and accurately reflect a student’s aptitude when administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (34 C.F.R. § 104.35).
The Section 504 committee, in reviewing evaluation data and making placement decisions must:
Draw upon information from a variety of sources, including but not limited to aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior;
Establish procedures to ensure that information obtained is documented and carefully considered;
Ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of evaluation data, and the placement options; and
Ensure that the placement is in the least restrictive environment (34 C.F.R. § 104.35(b)).
Parents or guardians have the right to refuse placement/services.
The District must conduct periodic reevaluations of qualified students (34 C.F.R. § 104.35(c)). A reevaluation must occur at least every three years or when a significant change of placement occurs.
Parents or guardians have the right to receive notice of any actions related to the identification, evaluation, or placement of a qualified student (34 C.F.R. § 104.36).
Parents or guardians have the right to examine all relevant records of your child, including those related to the provision of Section 504 services to a qualified student (34 C.F.R. § 104.36).
The parent/guardian/adult student has been informed after five (5) years of inactive status or graduation, Section 504 records will be destroyed and will no longer be available.
At the age of majority (18), all rights provided herein will transfer to the adult student.
Parents or guardians have the right to an impartial due process hearing and the right to be represented by counsel throughout the impartial due process hearing. All requests for an impartial due process hearing should be directed to the District’s Section 504 Coordinator as indicated below.
Kimmie L. Conlon
Director of MTSS and Section 504
2700 W. 15th Street
Plano, Texas 75075
Upon receipt of a request for an impartial due process hearing, the District will promptly retain an impartial due process hearing officer and will notify you of the designation of a hearing officer, the time, date, and place of the hearing.
Parents or guardians also have the right to appeal the impartial due process hearing officer’s decision to federal/state court as provided by the law or in writing to the District’s Section 504 coordinator who will coordinate the appropriate review procedure.
Parents or guardians have the right to file a complaint of discrimination with the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) at the address below.
DIRECTOR, OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, REGION VI
1999 Bryan Street
Dallas, TX 75201-6810
Parents or guardians have the right to file a complaint through the District’s local grievance procedures pursuant to Plano ISD Board Policies FB (LEGAL), FFH (LEGAL), FFH (LOCAL), or other applicable policies. The District will comply with all procedures provided in the Board Policies when a complaint is received.
If you have any questions regarding the rights provided herein or how to access the complaint processes, please do not hesitate to contact the District’s Section 504 Coordinator.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as anyone who:
1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
2. Has a record of such impairment, or
3. Is regarded as having such an impairment
Limitation of Life Activities
For a student to qualify under Section 504, their physical or mental impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Examples of life activities that may be substantially limited include, but are not limited to:
- Bodily functions/systems
My child has a disability. What should I do?
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - Pre-Meeting
An evaluation under Section 504 is the collecting, gathering, and evaluation of the student's individual data. The Section 504 individualized evaluation for eligibility begins with the parent/guardian signing a Notice and Consent for Evaluation. Only after consent has been given for the 504 Evaluation can the gathering of the data begin.
Upon receipt of the signed Notice and Consent for Evaluation, the Campus 504 Coordinator gathers data from the child's:
- Physician, if applicable
- Work samples
- Achievement data
- Educational evaluations/assessments, if applicable
- Any other pertinent information
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - 504 Committee
Once the evaluation data has been gathered, the Campus 504 Coordinator will convene a 504 committee to evaluate the information.
By law, a 504 committee must consist of the following persons that are knowledgeable about:
1) The student
2) The evaluation data (i.e., if the suspected disability is a medical condition, the nurse would be most appropriate to review and make determinations regarding the evaluation data)
3) Placement on the campus (i.e., necessary aids, services, or schedules that can be provided in order to accommodate the student's diability and provide equal access to that of his/her general education peers)
By following the above guidelines, the committee will consist of at least three people. The parent/guardian(s) and student can only fulfill the category of "knowledgeable about the student," therefore, there must be at least two other campus personnel in the meeting. While the parent is not a required member of the 504 committee, it is Plano ISD's best practice to involve the parent to the greatest extent possible.
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - Protections and Services
During the initial evaluation meeting, the 504 committee will review the evaluation data to determine if the student is considered disabled under Section 504. If the committee determines that the student does meet the definition of disabled by demonstrating a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, then the student is eligible for Section 504 protections. Section 504 protections guarantee that, to the greatest extent possible, the student will have equal access to their general education as that of their peers.
The 504 committee then determines if, based upon the child's disability, the child is eligible for services, or accommodations, under Section 504 in order to equalize access. Accommodations are meant to equalize access and not maximize grade potential or alter curriculum.
My child is eligible for Section 504 protection and services. What happens now?
504 Plan - Distribution
Once the 504 committee has determined that a student is eligible for Section 504 protections and, if applicable, services, then the Campus 504 Coordinator will distribute the 504 plan to the appropriate campus personnel responsible for ensuring the Individualized Accommodation Plan is followed. This may include one or more of the following:
- Classroom teacher(s)
- Grade level teachers that may work with or supervise the student during the day
- Specials/Electives teachers
- Campus counselor
- Campus nurse
- Campus administrator(s)
- Any other applicable campus personnel that may be involved in ensuring equal access
Any campus personnel that receives the Individualized Accommodation Plan will sign a Receipt of Accommodation Plan, stating that they have received the plan and will follow it to the greatest extent possible.
504 Plan - Progress Monitoring
After distribution of the Individual Accommodation Plan, the 504 Campus Coordinator will monitor the student's attendance, academic, and behavioral performance at a minimum every grading period to ensure that the accommodations are in place and are equalizing access to that of the student's general education peers.
If the coordinator becomes aware of a lack of expected progress, they may reach out to the student, his/her teacher(s), and/or his/her parent/guardian(s) in order to determine the reasoning for the lack of expected progress. While a lack of expected progress for a student served in Section 504 is not always based on the actual 504 plan, it is important to ensure equal access.
504 Plan - Meetings
By law, a 504 committee must meet every three years to re-evaluate the student's eligibility under Section 504. This meeting will be held in a similar fashion as the initial evaluation, with the gathering of data and a committee reviewing the gathered data.
Outside of the three year re-evaluation, the Individual Accommodation Plan may be managed in one or more of the following ways:
- Snapshot review - utilized within the three year re-evaluation timeframe if the student is making expected progress and has no need for changes to accommodations
- Amendment - utilized to update one or two accommodations without the need for a formal meeting
- Review - utilized if the 504 committee meets within the same school year as a formal meeting. The committee may discuss and update current accommodations.
A formal 504 meeting can be held at any time per parent or campus request, although the legal obligation is to re-evaluate every three years.
Section 504: Retention of records notice
Section 504 records will be destroyed and will no longer be available five (5) years following inactive status or graduation.
For questions regarding Section 504, please utilize the Section 504 Request for More Information form or find your Campus 504 Coordinator's contact information in the dropdown.
* Please know that it may take up to 72 hours (three school days) to respond.
Campus 504 Coordinator Search
504 StaffKimmie Conlon
Director MTSS and 504
Plano ISD Administration Building
2700 W. 15th Street
Plano, TX 75074