Once a student is identified as being eligible for regular or special education and related aids or services, a decision must be made regarding the type of services the student needs.
If a student is eligible for services under both the IDEA and Section 504, must a school district develop both an individualized education program (IEP) under the IDEA and a Section 504 plan under Section 504?
No. If a student is eligible under IDEA, he or she must have an IEP. Under the Section 504 regulations, one way to meet Section 504 requirements for a free appropriate public education is to implement an IEP.
Must a school district develop a Section 504 plan for a student who either “has a record of disability” or is “regarded as disabled”?
No. In public elementary and secondary schools, unless a student actually has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, the mere fact that a student has a “record of” or is “regarded as” disabled is insufficient, in itself, to trigger those Section 504 protections that require the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This is consistent with the Amendments Act (see FAQ 1), in which Congress clarified that an individual who meets the definition of disability solely by virtue of being “regarded as” disabled is not entitled to reasonable accommodations or the reasonable modification of policies, practices or procedures. The phrases “has a record of disability” and “is regarded as disabled” are meant to reach the situation in which a student either does not currently have or never had a disability, but is treated by others as such.
As noted in FAQ 34, in the Amendments Act (see FAQ 1), Congress clarified that an individual is not “regarded as” an individual with a disability if the impairment is transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.
What is the receiving school district’s responsibility under Section 504 toward a student with a Section 504 plan who transfers from another district?
If a student with a disability transfers to a district from another school district with a Section 504 plan, the receiving district should review the plan and supporting documentation. If a group of persons at the receiving school district, including persons knowledgeable about the meaning of the evaluation data and knowledgeable about the placement options determines that the plan is appropriate, the district is required to implement the plan. If the district determines that the plan is inappropriate, the district is to evaluate the student consistent with the Section 504 procedures at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determine which educational program is appropriate for the student. There is no Section 504 bar to the receiving school district honoring the previous IEP during the interim period. Information about IDEA requirements when a student transfers is available from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at https://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cdynamic%2CQaCorner%2C3%2C
What are the responsibilities of regular education teachers with respect to implementation of Section 504 plans? What are the consequences if the district fails to implement the plans?
Regular education teachers must implement the provisions of Section 504 plans when those plans govern the teachers’ treatment of students for whom they are responsible. If the teachers fail to implement the plans, such failure can cause the school district to be in noncompliance with Section 504.
What is the difference between a regular education intervention plan and a Section 504 plan?
A regular education intervention plan is appropriate for a student who does not have a disability or is not suspected of having a disability but may be facing challenges in school. School districts vary in how they address performance problems of regular education students. Some districts employ teams at individual schools, commonly referred to as “building teams.” These teams are designed to provide regular education classroom teachers with instructional support and strategies for helping students in need of assistance. These teams are typically composed of regular and special education teachers who provide ideas to classroom teachers on methods for helping students experiencing academic or behavioral problems. The team usually records its ideas in a written regular education intervention plan. The team meets with an affected student’s classroom teacher(s) and recommends strategies to address the student’s problems within the regular education environment. The team then follows the responsible teacher(s) to determine whether the student’s performance or behavior has improved. In addition to building teams, districts may utilize other regular education intervention methods, including before-school and after-school programs, tutoring programs, and mentoring programs.