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Santa Maria-Bonita SD |  AR  6164.6  Instruction

Identification And Education Under Section 504   

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A. Definitions

It is the intent of the district to ensure that students who are "handicapped" within the definition of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate "program accommodations." A Section 504 handicapped student for this purpose is defined as one who:

1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including learning.

2. Has a record of such an impairment.

3. Is regarded as having such an impairment.

B. Students With Disabilities Under IDEA

Students may be handicapped under Section 504 and thereby require program accommodations in order to receive an appropriate education even though they do not require services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). Students who are identified with disabilities that meet IDEA criteria shall have those disabilities addressed under IDEA, pursuant to state and federal law, in accordance with the procedures of the Santa Barbara County Special Education Local Plan Area, but may also be addressed under this policy.

C. Identification and Referral Procedures

1. Students who are reasonably believed to have a Section 504 handicapping condition or need, and who are believed to need program accommodations not existing in current programs in order to receive a free appropriate public education, may be referred by a parent/guardian, teacher or other certificated school employee, community agency or community members, to the Section 504 Student Study Team at the student's school of attendance for identification and evaluation of the student's individual educational needs.

2. The Section 504 Student Study Team will be composed of the student's parent/guardian, persons working with the student, and persons knowledgeable about the student's school history and individual needs. A Section 504 Student Study Team member should also be knowledgeable of any prior evaluations of the student and the student's placement options.

The site administrator will determine the composition of the Section 504 Student Study Team to ensure that qualified personnel participate.

3. The Section 504 Student Study Team will promptly consider a referral and determine whether the student has a disability within the meaning of Section 504. If the child is found to be ineligible under Section 504 and further evaluation is denied, the Section 504 Student Study Team will inform the parent/guardian in writing in their primary language of its decision and of the Section 504 procedural safeguards available to them.

D. Evaluation by the Section 504 Student Study Team

1. Evaluation of the student and, when appropriate, formulation of an accommodation plan will be carried out by the Section 504 Student Study Team. If further assessment is required it would be provided by appropriate specialists.

2. The decision regarding what assessment shall be undertaken shall be based on a review of the student's existing records, including academic, social and behavioral records, any relevant medical records, and the student's needs.

3. The Section 504 Student Study Team will evaluate the nature of the student's handicap and the impact of the handicap upon the student's education. This evaluation will include consideration of any behaviors that interfere with the regular participation in the educational program and/or activities.

4. If during the evaluation the Section 504 Student Study Team obtains information indicating the student's possible eligibility for special education per the California Education Code or IDEA, a referral for special education assessment will be made.

5. The final determination of whether the student will be identified as a handicapped individual within the meaning of Section 504 will be made by the Section 504 Student Study Team.

6. A final decision regarding the evaluation of the student will be made by the Section 504 Student Study Team in writing and the parent/guardian of the student shall be notified in writing in their primary language of the Section 504 procedural safeguards available to them.

E. Plan for Accommodation

1. For students who have been identified as handicapped under Section 504 and in need of accommodations, the Section 504 Student Study Team shall be responsible for determining what accommodations are needed to ensure that the student receives a free, appropriate education.

2. In developing the Section 504 Accommodation Plan, the Section 504 Student Study Team shall consider available relevant information, drawing upon a variety of sources including, but not limited to, assessments conducted by the district's professional staff.

3. The parent/guardian shall be invited to participate in Section 504 Student Study Team meetings where accommodations for the student will be determined and shall be given, upon request, an opportunity to examine in advance all relevant records.

4. The Section 504 Student Study Team will develop a written plan describing the Section 504 handicap and any accommodations that may be needed.

5. Section 504 handicapped students requiring accommodations shall be placed in the regular educational environment, with appropriate supplementary services. Handicapped students shall be educated with those who are not handicapped to the extent necessary to assure that the handicapped student's individual educational needs are met as adequately as the needs of non-handicapped students.

6. District personnel will work to accommodate the parent/guardian schedule in order to obtain their participation and involvement. In the event the student's parent/guardian chooses not to attend the Section 504 Student Study Team meeting, the Team shall notify the parent/guardian in writing in their primary language of its final decision concerning the accommodations to be provided and of the Section 504 procedural safeguards available to them.

7. When a Section 504 Accommodation Plan is developed, school personnel who work with the student shall be informed of the plan.

F. Review of Progress

1. The Section 504 Student Study Team will monitor the progress of the handicapped student and the effectiveness of the Section 504 Accommodation Plan annually. Prior to any significant change in placement, a re-evaluation of the student's needs will be performed.

G. Procedural Safeguards

1. The parent/guardian shall in their primary language be notified in writing of all district decisions concerning the identification, evaluation and/or accommodations for a student made under this regulation. Notifications shall include a statement of rights to:

a. Examine relevant records.

b. Have an impartial hearing with an opportunity for participation by the parent/guardian and their counsel.

c. Have a review procedure. (34 CFR 104.36)

(cf. 5145.6 - Parental Notifications)

2. If the parent/guardian disagrees with a district decision involving identification, evaluation or accommodation for a student with handicaps under Section 504, they have the following procedural safeguards that are to be initiated within 15 days of receipt of the Section 504 Student Study Team Documentation of Eligibility/Ineligibility Report and/or Student Accommodation Plan.

a. Informal Procedures

The procedures below will apply when a dispute exists over the eligibility, identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student under Section 504 standards. While the parent/guardian has the right to an impartial hearing, the district encourages utilization of Levels One and Two in an effort to resolve issues informally. However, the parent/guardian may go directly to Level Three.

(1) Level One

Within 15 calendar days of receipt of the decision, the parent/guardian must submit in writing to the site administrator or designee, a request for a meeting with their child's Section 504 Student Study Team in an attempt to resolve the disagreement. This meeting shall be held within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request, but no later than 15 calendar days from receipt of the written request. This time frame may be extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

(2) Level Two

If disagreement continues, within 15 calendar days of a Level One meeting, the parent/guardian must request in writing a meeting with the district Section 504 Coordinator, or with his/her designee. This meeting shall be held within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request, but no later than 20 calendar days from receipt of the written request. This time frame may be extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

(3) Level Three

If disagreement continues, or upon initial request, the parent/guardian may request in writing an Impartial Hearing. The steps involved in initiating and implementing a Section 504 Impartial Hearing are described below.

b. Section 504 Impartial Hearing Procedures

(1) An impartial due process hearing will be utilized to resolve differences involving the eligibility, identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student under Section 504 standards when such differences cannot be resolved by using less formal procedures. Due Process provides an opportunity to present objections and reasons for the objections to the decisions and/or procedures of the Section 504 Student Study Team.

a. A Section 504 due process hearing may be called at the request of the district, the parent/guardian of an affected student, or the student.

b. The proceedings will be presided over and decided by an impartial Hearing Officer. The impartial Hearing

Officer means a person selected to preside at a due process hearing to assure that proper procedures are followed and to assure the protection of the rights of both parties.

(2) A request in writing for a Section 504 Impartial Hearing must be filed in the office of the district Section 504 Coordinator.

a. This request must generally be received by the district within 30 calendar days from parent/guardian receipt of written notice of the decision leading to the request for the impartial hearing. This time frame may be extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

b. This time frame will also be renewed upon parent/ guardian request for and participation in a scheduled Section 504 Student Study Team meeting. Upon receipt of such a request from the parent/guardian, the district will schedule the Section 504 Student Study Team meeting and make relevant personnel available within a reasonable time period, but no later than 20 calendar days from receipt of the written request. This time frame may be extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

c. A request for a hearing must be in writing. A parent/ guardian or student making an oral request will be assisted by the district to make a written request. A request shall contain the following:

1. The specific nature of the decision(s) made by the district with which the person disagrees.

2. The specific relief the person seeks.

3. Any other information the person believes will assist in understanding the request.

(3) Within 20 calendar days of receipt of a timely written request for hearing, the district 504 Coordinator will select an impartial Hearing Officer unless such time is extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

a. A Hearing Officer selected by the district must satisfy the following requirements:

1. Be qualified to review district decisions relating to Section 504.

2. Not be an employee of, or under contract with, the district or the Special Education Local Plan Area of which the district is a member, in any capacity, other than that of a Hearing Officer.

3. Not have any professional or personal involvement that would affect his or her impartiality or objectivity in the matter.

(4) Within 45 calendar days of the selection of the Hearing Officer, the hearing shall be conducted and a written decision mailed to all parties, unless such time is extended for good cause or by mutual agreement of the parties.

(5) Any party to the hearing has the right to the following:

a. To be accompanied and advised by counsel and by individuals with special knowledge or training related to the problems of students who are qualified handicapped within the meaning of Section 504.

b. The right to present written and oral evidence.

c. The right to question and cross-examine witnesses.

d. The right to written findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions prepared by the Hearing Officer.

e. The right, with twenty-four hours written notice, to have the hearing recorded electronically, and to have a written transcript of the electronic verbatim record of the hearing prepared at the expense of the individual requesting such record.

f. The right to prohibit the introduction of evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to the other party or parties at least five calendar days prior to the hearing, except for good cause shown.

g. Receipt of notice from the other party or parties at least 10 calendar days prior to the hearing that they will utilize the services of an attorney, except for good cause shown.

(6) The Hearing Officer shall render a decision pursuant to the legal standards set forth in 34 CFR 104.

(7) Either party may seek review of the Hearing Officer's decision by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(8) Reimbursement of attorney's fees, expert witness fees, and other costs, is available only as authorized by law.

(9) The district will maintain the responsibility for selecting an impartial administrative Hearing Officer.

3. If both the parent/guardian and the district agree that the student is not eligible for special education under the IDEA, neither party is required to exhaust administrative proceedings under the IDEA prior to the holding of a Section 504 hearing.

4. In instances where a fair hearing has already been held under the IDEA concerning issues relevant to the Section 504 proceeding, the Section 504 Hearing Officer shall, at the request of either party, accept into the record as evidence copies of the transcript of testimony and documents submitted in the IDEA hearing. The Hearing Officer shall then provide opportunity for the submission of additional evidence by the parties that is relevant to determination of the issues under Section 504. The Section 504 Hearing Officer's jurisdiction shall be limited to Section 504 issues and shall not include a determination of eligibility for special education under the IDEA.

5. The Hearing Officer shall render a decision pursuant to Section 504 (29 USC Section 794, et. Seq. 34 C.F.R. Part 104). The parent/guardian shall be notified in writing of the decision in their primary language. Either party may seek review of the decision of the Hearing Officer by a court of competent jurisdiction.

6. The existence of the district's hearing and complaint procedures does not affect the right of an individual or group to file a discrimination complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), United States Department of Education.

H. Section 504 Coordinator

The Superintendent shall appoint the district's Section 504 Coordinator ("the Coordinator"). The parent/guardian must request the Section 504 due process hearing by contacting the Coordinator. The Coordinator may designate a person to act as his/her designee and carry out his/her functions under these procedures in cases where the Coordinator is absent from the district or otherwise unable to act in his/her capacity as Coordinator.

Regulation SANTA MARIA-BONITA SCHOOL DISTRICT

approved: May 10, 2000 Santa Maria, California

revised: December 12, 2001