Questions & Answers
Q Who determines my child’s eligibility for services under Section 504?
A Teachers, parents, counselors, and/or administrators may refer a student for possible 504 eligibility. If referred, a 504 committee will be assembled that may include the following: teachers, parents, counselors, administrators, medical personnel, child study team members, and therapists. The committee will review the documentation to determine eligibility for 504 services. The committee will draw upon information from a variety of sources and assure that all information is documented and considered.
Q What is a substantial limitation?
A The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. Generally speaking, a student who makes academic progress as shown by grades and standardized test scores is not substantially limited in the major life activity of learning.
Q I have heard the words “accommodations” and “modifications” used while inquiring about services under Section 504 or special education. What do they mean and what is the difference?
A Accommodations are changes in course/standards/test presentation, location, timing/scheduling and/or other attribute that do not fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course/standard/test. Modifications, on the other hand, allow changes that may fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course/standard/test. 504 Plans allow accommodations only. Modifications to curricula are only done through an IEP under a special education classification. With a 504 Plan, a student may be given the accommodations he needs to demonstrate achievement, but the course content requirements are not reduced or altered in any way.
Q But my son could be doing better if he didn’t have this problem and/or received accommodations.
A Section 504 regulations do not guarantee that a child will work to his or her potential. They guarantee that he or she will be given an opportunity to learn. Students who are making academic progress as shown by grades and standardized test scores are learning.
Q Does a medical diagnosis of an illness automatically mean a student can receive services under Section 504?
No. A medical diagnosis of an illness does not automatically mean a student can receive services under Section 504. The illness must cause a substantial limitation on the student's ability to learn or another major life activity. For example, a student who has a physical or mental impairment would not be considered a student in need of services under Section 504 if the impairment does not in any way limit the student's ability to learn or other major life activity, or only results in some minor limitation in that regard.
Q Can a medical diagnosis suffice as an evaluation for the purpose of providing FAPE?
No. A physician's medical diagnosis may be considered among other sources in evaluating a student with an impairment or believed to have an impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. Other sources to be considered, along with the medical diagnosis, include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior
Q My child had a 504 Plan in elementary school and middle school. Why is his accommodations in question?
A When a student transfer to a school, there is not enough data to determine what if the accommdoations are reasonable and appropriate for that school. Often schools, including Kingsway, will err on the side of caution and implement the existing accommodations before determining if it is reasonable and appropriate.
Q My child has been determined eligible under Section 504. Why can’t he have all the services my doctor recommends?
A The 504 committee determines accommodations in a 504 Plan. Recommendations from all sources are considered, but the committee makes the final decision on any and all accommodations. Schools are not bound to accept and/or supply the specific recommendations of any one individual. The committee is given this responsibility.
Q My child had a 504 Plan, but during his annual review, the committee determined that he is no longer eligible. What happened?
A For a student to remain eligible for 504 accommodations, he or she must always meet the requirements for eligibility. These eligibility requirements as well as an on-going needs assessment are usually evaluated annually by a committee, but they could be assessed more frequently if needs dictate. Although a student may have a documented, diagnosed disability, a 504 Plan is only appropriate if the eligibility requirements remain.