504 and IDEA: Education Options for Students with Juvenile Arthritis
ABOUT YOUR PRESENTER • Selina O’Shannon, Senior Advocate for the Education Team • Over 17 years of experience in special education and her areas of interest include training in disability awareness, Positive Behavior Support, inclusive programming, and person-first language. • Masters Degree from the University of South Florida. • Joined Disability Rights Florida in 2003. • Former Elementary Teacher for the public school system and worked with the University of South Florida’s Positive Behavior Support Project providing training and technical assistance on classroom, non-classroom, and school-wide PBS levels across the state of Florida. • Member on the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council’s Child Development and Education Task Force and serves on the Consumer Advisory Committee for the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of South Florida.
Training Agenda • Disability Rights Florida: Who we are? • Educational Options • 504 plans • ESE services • Hospital Homebound • What’s Right for Your Child? • How To Access Our Services?
DISABILITY RIGHTS FLORIDA • Disability Rights Florida is the designated protection and advocacy system for individuals with disabilities in the State of Florida. • Disability Rights Florida has authority and responsibility under eight federal grants. • Established in 1987, Disability Rights Florida is a statewide, not-for-profit corporation.
OUR MISSION • To advance the quality of life, dignity, equality, self-determination, and freedom of choice of persons with disabilities through collaboration, education, advocacy, as well as legal and legislative strategies.
Section 504: Federal Civil Rights Law • Section 504 is part of a federal civil rights law known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. • Section 504 prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and guarantees them a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Discrimination • Discrimination, as defined in Section 504, is the failure to provide students with disabilities the same opportunity to benefit from education programs, services, or activities as is provided to their nondisabled peers. • Schools cannot exclude students with disabilities from facilities, programs, benefits, activities, or services that are provided to students without disabilities. • Schools must make sure that all students receive equal access to educational opportunities.
How does the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 define a “person with disabilities”? • Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. • A major life activities include; caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. • Learning does not have to be the major life activity affected in order for an individual to be eligible for protections and services under Section 504.
How are students identified as having a disability? • If a student is struggling in school, a parent, teacher, or other member of the school staff may raise a concern about a student’s unique need for special help. • Parents, teachers, and other staff members will meet to discuss all relevant information about the student. • The team will consider whether the student has a disability that substantially limits a major life activity.
How are students identified as having a disability? (Continued) • If the team needs more information, they will request the parent’s consent to evaluate the student. • If the team determines that the student does have a disability, they will then identify what types of support, or accommodations, are appropriate to meet the student’s needs. • RtI is not required for the 504 process • A 504 plan is then drafted
What is included in a Section 504 accommodation plan? • The 504 plan describes the accommodations that the school will provide to support the student’s education. • While Section 504 does not require a written plan, it does require documentation of evaluations and accommodations.
What is included in a 504 plan (continued)? • A written plan is useful and provides clarity and direction to the individuals delivering services or making accommodations. • While there is no time limit specified for an accommodation plan. A yearly review is recommended. • Changes to the 504 plan can be made on an as needed basis.
What is The Parent’s Role? • Parents are their child’s first and most important teachers, as well as their advocates. • If a parent believes his or her child has a disability or is having problems in school, the child’s teacher should be contacted to discuss these concerns. • Effectively communicating your concerns with your child’s teacher and/or school is critical. Building a strong parent/school
What is the teachers role? • Classroom teachers should be flexible in their teaching techniques and expectations for students with disabilities. • Teachers need to be willing to modify the classroom environment, adjust their teaching strategies, and/or make other accommodations. • Effective communication with parents regarding student process is critical. • Clear documentation on assessing students progress is essential in determining if the 504 is effectively working.
Preparing for your 504 Meeting • In preparation for the 504 Plan meeting outline the issues and needed 504 accommodations in relation to your child’s disability. Ask yourself these questions: • What accommodations does your child require to make meaningful academic progress? • What accommodations does your child require to access the educational campus?
Reasonable accommodations • Accommodations are used to “level the playing field.” • Do not let anyone make you feel like asking for accommodations provide your child with an unfair advantage. • Accommodations are required for your child to receive a free and appropriate public education.
Examples of reasonable accommodations • Assistive technology; • Large print • Braille • Readers • Text-to-speech technology • Touch screen • Adaptive mouse • Lap top • Word processor • Tape recorder • Calculator • Books on tape • Magnifier • Visual aids • Interpreters (oral or sign)
Examples of reasonable accommodations (continued) • Extended test time • Extended time for assignments, projects and home work • Lessens broken down into smaller segments • Tests broken down into smaller segments • Study guides • Outlines • Preview tests • Preview lessons • Preview vocabulary words • Preview spelling words • Dictionary • Thesaurus • Assignment notebook • Note taker
Examples of reasonable accommodations (continued) • Color-code or highlight key words • Oral responses • Lowered desk • Adaptive chair • Adaptive handles • Accessible restroom • Adaptive writing tools • Increased space between lines • Raised lines on paper • Slant board • Fewer items on a page • Paraphrase or repeat directions • Directions repeated, summarized, or clarified • Highlighter or highlighter tape • Visual cues
Whom do I contact for information on Section 504? • Parents and teachers may contact the school principal or the school district’s Section 504 coordinator • Florida Department of Education’s Student Support Services office at 850.922.3727 • Florida Department of Education’s Office of Equity and Access at 850.245.0511 • U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at 404.562.6350 or e-mail OCR.Atlanta@ed.gov.
How can I protect my child’s rights and begin to document disability discrimination? • To help protect your child’s rights to a free and appropriate public education: • Keep a detailed journal of events pertinent to your child’s education, which should be a chronological written record with dates, times, places, and events. • Be sure to note the names and titles of school officials and others involved with school events, which may prove to be useful if you need to document disability discrimination. • If you believe disability discrimination occurs or you have specific concerns with school officials and the education of your child, consider documenting your specific concerns in writing, date the correspondence, make a copy of the correspondence for your records, request a written response and if possible send your correspondence return receipt requested.
What should parents or teachers do if they become dissatisfied with the plan? • Ongoing communication between parents and teachers is needed to avoid disagreements related to the 504 plan. • If you are dissatisfied with your child’s 504 plan you should contact the school principal or the designated staff member responsible for Section 504in your district. • If the plan is not appropriate, it should be revised following the same procedures used to develop the original plan.
SECTION 504 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE • If you are unable to resolve your concerns through a meeting with your school administrator, you have the option of filing a grievance with the school’s 504 coordinator. • Grievances must be submitted to the Section 504 Coordinator. • A complaint must be in writing, containing the name and address of the person filing it. • The complaint must state the problem or action alleged to be discriminatory and the remedy or relief sought.
SECTION 504 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE (Continued) • The Section 504 Coordinator (or her/his designee) shall conduct an investigation of the complaint. This investigation may be informal, but it must be thorough, affording all interested persons an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint. • The Section 504 Coordinator should issue a written decision on the grievance. • The availability and use of this grievance procedure does not prevent a person from filing a complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability with the Office for Civil Rights.
How can the Office of Civil Rights help? • In addition, the U.S. Department of Education, The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has the authority to investigate Section 504 and ADA Title II complaints. • OCR has helpful information regarding students with disabilities’ rights and 504 Planning on their website at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html • For more information, review their fact sheet entitled: Protecting Students with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions.
504 Resources • You can find the Code of Federal Regulation and other Codes of Federal Regulations discussed in this web page by going to http://www.ed.gov/index.jsp Select the Search function in the top right hand corner and for example, type 34 C.F.R. 104.33, and select the 34 C.F.R. Part 104. • A Parent and Teacher Guide to Section 504: Frequently Asked Questions http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/504bro.pdf • District Guide for Meeting the Needs of Students Section 504 Act of 1973 of the Rehabilitation http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/sect504.pdf • Accommodations: Assisting Students with Disabilities http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/accomm-educator.pdf • Accommodations and Modifications: What Parents Need To Know http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/ac-mod-parents.pdf
Special Education and Florida Schools • Children who have special learning needs and have been found eligible for special education services because of a disability are called exceptional students. • Services that are provided in school are called Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. • Special education is a service not a PLACE • ESE services are provided to families FREE of charge
Purpose of ESE • The purpose of ESE is to help each child with a disability to access their educational services and progress in school. • These services should also help the student prepare for life after graduation from high school.
Special Education Services • ESE services can include but are not limited to the following: • Special teaching methods and materials • Adaptive equipment and technology • Therapy services (i.e., Speech, counseling, behavior) • Special bus transportation • Accommodations and/or modifications to the current educational curriculum
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) • Principal law relied upon to obtain appropriate educational services • IDEA requires public school districts to seek out and identify children with disabilities in all settings (Public, private and home schooled students) • Students with disabilities in public schools who are found eligible for ESE services are entitled to a free and appropriate education • IDEA requires the development of an IEP
IDEA Eligibility • Student must be found legally eligible for services using the State Board of Education Rules • Requires that a child have a disability • Each category of a disability has its own legal criteria IDEA 2004 Section 300.8(b) "Child with a Disability".
ESE Programs • Each school district is responsible for providing services to students who are eligible for the following exceptional student education (ESE) programs. • Autism Spectrum Disorder • Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing • Developmentally Delayed (prekindergarten only) • Dual-Sensory Impaired (Deaf-Blind) • Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities • Gifted • Homebound or Hospitalized
ESE Programs Continued… • Mentally Handicapped (Educable, Trainable, and Profound) • Physically Impaired with Orthopedic Impairment • Physically Impaired with Other Health Impairment • Physically Impaired with Traumatic Brain Injury • Specific Learning Disabilities • Speech and Language Impaired • Visually Impaired (Blind and Partially Sighted)
Educational Programs • School districts and schools develop their own programs to serve their students in the most effective way possible. • Information about each districts programs can be found in the districts Special Programs and Procedures Manual (S P & P)
Resources • Florida Dept. Of Education Clearinghouse • Phone: 850-245-0476 • Website: http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/1b-stats.pdf • Florida Statutes and State Board of Education Rules: • http://www.firn.edu/doe/commhome/clerhome.htm • Florida Department of Education – Parent Line 850-245-0476
What is Hospital Homebound Services? • Students who have been evaluated and deemed eligible by a group of qualified professionals for the homebound or hospitalized (H/H) program services are considered students with a disability in Florida, in accordance with Section 1003.01, Florida Statutes (F.S.). • As such, they are entitled to all the rights and protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including a free appropriate public education (FAPE), as identified in Section 1003.01, F.S. This section covers policy and procedures related to eligibility and the development of an individual educational plan (IEP).
Hospital Homebound • Rule 6A-6.03020, Florida Administrative Code (FAC.), identifies a H/H student as a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or psychiatric condition that is acute or catastrophic in nature, or a chronic illness, or a repeated intermittent illness due to a persisting medical problem. • Medical documentation is KEY!!! • The condition or illness must confine the student to home or hospital and restrict activities for an extended period of time.
Hospital Homebound • The possibility of H/H services should be explored when it is anticipated that a student will be absent from school for at least 15 schools days, or the equivalent, while under a physician’s care because of severe, prolonged, or chronic illness.
Initiating the Process • A parent, teacher, social worker, guidance counselor, physician, and others may initiate the process as soon as it is anticipated that the student will be absent for the duration specified in the rule. • There is no established “waiting period” that must be met when considering initiating the process.
Eligibility Process A student is eligible for specially designed instruction in the H/H program if all of the following criteria are met: A licensed physician certifies: • That the student is expected to be absent from school for at least 15 consecutive school days (or the equivalent on a block schedule) due to a physical or psychiatric condition, or for at least 15 school days (or the equivalent on a block schedule), which need not run consecutively, due to a chronic condition • That the student is confined to the home or hospital
Eligibility Process (continued) • That the student will be able to participate in and benefit from an instructional program • That the student is under medical care for illness or injury, which is acute, catastrophic, or chronic in nature • That the student can receive instructional services without endangering the health and safety of the instructor or other students • The student is enrolled in a public school (kindergarten through twelfth grade) prior to the referral for homebound or hospitalized services • The parent, guardian, or primary caregiver signs parental agreement concerning hospitalized or homebound policies and parental cooperation
The IEP for Hospital Homebound services • The IEP must be revised to reflect the services needed while on H/H. • Particular attention must be paid to the accommodations, modifications, assistive technology, and related services the student was receiving prior to the referral for H/H services. • Changes can be made to the accommodations, modifications, assistive technology, and/or related services, however they may not be discontinued simply because the student moves from the school setting to the home or hospital setting.
Common Misunderstandings • Students in Hospital Homebound can receive related services • There are not number hours for services in Hospital Homebound • Hospital Homebound services should be viewed as a temporary intervention and are not intended to replace the classroom experience. • Hospital Homebound services require annual medical documentation for continuum of services and dismissal.
What’s Best for Your Child? • Each case is unique and individualized • Under either plan, a child can receive classroom modifications, accommodations, and a free, appropriate public education and related services.
Ask Yourself This Questions??? • Does your child’s difficulties have little or nothing to do with learning (medical condition, walking impairment, severe allergy, etc.) and your child does NOT need specialized instruction but would benefit from accommodations or modifications to programs, facilities, or testing? If you said YES, then a 504 plan may be appropriate.
Ask Yourself This Question? • Is your child is having difficulty learning and needs specialized instruction? • Would your child benefit from specialized instruction in order to access the general education curriculum? If you said YES to either of these questions, then an IEP is probably required.
Common Concerns • Many schools will steer parents towards a 504plan over an IEP: it is less burdensome for schools • The process is not as formal • A 504 plan also offers fewer rights and protections for parents and students struggling with a school district for an appropriate education. • A 504 plan holds less weight than an IEP • If a 504 plan is not working, ask for a comprehensive evaluation • Just because you have a 504 plan does not make you ineligible for an IEP.