What is Section 504?
Definition of Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (commonly referred to as “Section 504”) prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of disability. One of the principal purposes of Section 504 is to ensure that students with disabilities are not denied access to educational facilities, programs, and opportunities on the basis of their disability. In order for a student to receive assistance under Section 504 they must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Fenton Area Public Schools has an evaluation procedure in place for students who are suspected of needing assistance under Section 504. Parents may also request an evaluation through the Special Services office. Please see Section 504 evaluation tab if you are wanting to request a 504 evaluation for your student.
So what does that mean?
Section 504 Process
What does the referral and evaluation involve?
Pre-Referral Assistance: Pre-referral assistance is an important first step in serving students experiencing difficulties in school. Teachers may vary instructional and behavioral methodologies and expectations, and, by so doing meet students’ educational and behavioral needs; and thereby strengthen the general education program and reduce unnecessary referral.
Pre-referral assistance, including strategies such as multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) formerly knows as response-to-intervention (RTI), is not intended to impede or be a substitute for necessary referrals for consideration of eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDA) or Section 504. If at any time a teacher, counselor, administrator, other professional staff member, parent or guardian has reason to believe that the student’s difficulties may be attributable to a disability, the student should be referred for an evaluation.
A student who, because of a suspected disability, is believed to need services under Section 504 is typically referred for a Section 504 evaluation by a parent, guardian, teacher, other certified school employee, the student if they are 18 years of age or older, or other concerned adult individual.
The referral should be in writing (can use the referral form) and directed to the director of special services or may be given to the student’s school to be forwarded to the special services office.
The parent/guardian/student if they are 18 will be contacted by the special services office to set up a time to meet and discuss the referral and provide written consent for a Section 504 evaluation if they decide they would like to pursue one.
The parent/guardian/student if they are 18 will be provided with a copy of “Section 504 Notice of Procedural Safeguards” (can also be found on the website) with the notice of the referral.
The Section 504 evaluation will draw upon information from a variety of sources and may include:
School record review, observation of the student, standardized or other assessments by school staff, parent and teacher interviews, behavior rating scales/checklists, pertinent medical information, information provided by the parent, and other information determined relevant.
A medical diagnosis of a physical or mental impairment does not, in and of itself, determine Section 504 eligibility. The district will draw upon a variety of sources and a medical diagnosis is only one source. Additionally, the District may request , but cannot require a parent to provide a medical statement or sign a release for the District to contact the student’s physician. The Section 504 team will use all pertinent information available to make the most informed decision it can regarding Section 504 eligibility.
Section 504 evaluations will be completed within 30 school days from the District’s receipt of the parent/guardian consent to evaluate. If an extension is required the parent will be notified in writing of the extension, the reason for the extension, and the expected date of the completion of the process.
The eligibility determination must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student. The parent/guardian of the student is considered to be part of the team.
If a student is found eligible the team will develop a Section 504 plan.
A person who believes a student has been discriminated against by the District on the basis of the student’s disability or who believes the District otherwise violated Section 504 also has the right to file a complaint through the District’s grievance procedures. (See Grievance Forms). A person who wishes to file a complaint should contact:
Dr. Courtney Szucs
Director of Special Services
Fenton Area Public Schools
404 W. Ellen St.
Fenton, MI 48430
A person may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) if he/she does not wish to use the District’s grievance procedure. A person who wished to file a complaint with OCR should contact:
Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
600 Superior Avenue East, Suite 750
Cleveland, OH 44114-2611
FAX: (216) 522-2573; TDD: (877)0521-2172
Telephone: (216) 522-4970
A discrimination complaint may be filed with OCR at any time. Additionally, if a person is dissatisfied with the District’s resolution of a complaint, that complaint may be filed with OCR at the address above within 60 days of the District’s resolution