KERN HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
Section 504 Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is “504”?
It is federal law that helps protect the rights of students with disabilities. “504” represents Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against any person with a disability by any federally funded agency or organization.
2. Who is covered by “Section 504”?
Any person who:
A) Has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities
B) Has a record of such an impairment; or
C) Is regarded as having such an impairment
Major life activities under Section 504 include: Breathing, Seeing, Speaking, Caring for Oneself, Learning, Walking, Hearing, Performing Manual Tasks, Working, Eating, Sleeping, Standing, Lifting, Reading, Thinking, Bending, Concentrating, Communicating, Operation of a major bodily function.
3. What rights and requirements are expected when a student has a 504 Plan?
A) Eligible students have a right to a free appropriate public education equal to that provided to non-disabled students.
B) An evaluation is required before placement changes or accommodations can be made.
C) Students have access to the Least Restrictive Environment and, as much as possible, may attend classes in regular classrooms and take part in school activities with students who do not have a disability.
D) Parents must be told of any identification, evaluation, and/or placement before significant changes are made.
E) Students must receive opportunities, both academic and non-academic, comparable to those provided to students without disabilities.
F) Individuals have a right to file a written complain when alleging non-compliance with Section 504, according to the District’s Uniform Complaint Procedures.
4. Is a student with a temporary disability covered under Section 504?
He/she may be. The issue of whether a temporary impairment is substantial enough to be a disability must be resolved on a case-by-case basis.
5. Under what circumstances must a district conduct an initial evaluation under Section 504?
A district must conduct an initial evaluation before it takes any action with respect to the initial placement of a student with a disability. This evaluation determines whether the student is a student with a disability for the purposes of Section 504, assembles data to determine appropriate services to which the student is entitled, and determines the educational setting that is the Least Restrictive Environment.
6. Is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) a recognized disability under Section 504?
Yes. ADD and ADHD have been recognized as impairments that can be the basis of eligibility under Section 504 because they limit a major life activity. Typically that major life activity will be learning.
7. Is drug/alcohol addiction a “physical or mental impairment” under Section 504?
Yes. However, a student who is a current illegal drug user is not covered under either the Americans with Disabilities Act on the basis of his/her drug addiction. For the purpose of Section 504, the term “individual with a disability” does not include an individual who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs. While a student with alcoholism may be eligible for protection and services under Section 504 on that basis, that protection does not extend to immunity from sanctioning (discipline) for use or possession of alcohol in violation of the district’s disciplinary code.
8. Is pregnancy a “physical impairment” under Section 504?
No. Pregnancy, of itself, is not considered an impairment under Section 504. However, if a student suffers complications that substantially limit a major life activity, then the pregnancy-related complications may be a temporary disability under Section 504. These complications must typically be substantial to qualify for Section 504/ADA protection.
9. What provisions are made when a student with Section 504 accommodations faces discipline?
Different rules and regulations apply to the disciplining of students with disabilities covered under Section 504. Students with identified disabilities may not be expelled or suspended from school for more than 10 school days (10 days within a year) for misconduct that was a manifestation of the student’s disability. Districts/schools can discipline a student for misconduct related to his/her disability, except in those instances in which the discipline would result in a significant change of placement. When the student’s misconduct is not related to his disability, then the district may suspend the student for more than 10 days or expel the student altogether.
10. Are individual behavior management plans required under Section 504?
Yes. Section 504 requires districts to develop an individualized behavior management plan for a student with a disability when that student’s behavioral difficulties significantly interfere with his/her ability to benefit from their education.
11. How should a student with a disability who is receiving accommodations or modifications in a general education classroom be graded?
In most instances, a student with a disability, receiving modifications in the general classroom, should be graded in accordance with the district’s generally applicable grading policies. Under Section 504 students with disabilities must be treated that same as all other students with respect to grades. There are very limited situations where alternate grading might be appropriate, but such is typically not the case.
12. Who should I contact if I suspect a student has a currently-unidentified disability, in order to consider evaluation and accommodations under a 504 Plan?
Each school site has a designated Section 504/ADA Compliance Officer. Most typically this is an administrator or counselor. School administrators will direct you to your site’s 504/ADA Compliance Officer. The EBHS Section 504 Contact Person is ERIN JAMES, COUNSELOR.