Section 504 in Pitt County Schools
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights act that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs and activities. The regulation requires a “recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity to provide a free appropriate public education to each qualified handicapped person who is in the recipient’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s handicap.”
A disability, under Section 504, is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. These activities include, but are not limited to, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Major life activities also include the operation of a major bodily function such as the function of the immune, respiratory, or digestive system.
Referral and Placement Process
Many individuals, including School administrators, teachers, parents, doctors, or the school nurse, may make a referral to the school 504 Team (team) if a student is suspected of having a disability. However, parents must agree for the evaluation process to proceed. Referrals for consideration of Section 504 eligibility are discussed in a School Meeting with the student’s parents, teacher, and the school 504 contact. If the suspected area of impairment is learning-related, the School Meeting team generally recommends beginning the student in the Problem Solving Team (PST) Process for additional strategies and/or interventions. During the PST process, if it is determined that the student is not in need of special education, but is suspected of having has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, the case will be referred to the school’s Section 504 team for consideration.
If the affected major life activity is not learning related, the School Meeting team will refer the case directly to the Section 504 team for evaluation. If the 504 team determines that the student meets the definition of disability under Section 504, then the student may receive a Section 504 plan designed to include accommodations that will afford the student equal opportunity to benefit from the learning environment. In interpreting evaluation data and in making placement decisions, the team shall (1) draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior, (2) establish procedures to ensure that information obtained from all such sources is documented and carefully considered, (3) ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options, (4) ensure that the placement decision is made in conformity with the Section 504 regulations, and (5) fully document and carefully consider information obtained when making placement decisions.
Some students are determined to have a disability under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, however, are not in need of a Section 504 plan. An example may be a student whose disability is intermittent, in remission or controlled by medication. Additionally, Students with an Individualized Health Plan generally qualify for a Section 504 Plan.
The process to determine Section 504 eligibility is team-oriented and specifically designed to meet the individual needs of our students. Each school in Pitt County has a designated Section 504 contact person who can help with parent questions.
Notice of Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination
In compliance with federal law, the Pitt County Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or military service in its policies, programs, activities, admissions or employment. Inquiries or complaints should be made to the Director of Student Services, Pitt County Schools, 1717 West Fifth Street, Greenville, NC 27834; telephone (252) 830-4237. The Director of Student Services is the designated Title IX Coordinator and the Section 504 Coordinator.