The Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted the regulatory provisions of Chapter 15 in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code (“Chapter 15”) in order to address a school district’s responsibility to comply with requirements of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”). These regulations protect otherwise qualified handicapped students who have physical, mental or health impairments from discrimination because of those impairments.
Section 504 and Chapter 15 require public educational agencies, such as the Warren County School District ("District"), to ensure these students have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the ability of the protected handicapped student in question.
WCSD is required to make sure every child with a disability is getting an appropriate education. If someone believes a child is eligible under §504, they would first contact the school’s principal and request a meeting with the school team. Anyone can ask for a school team meeting to help problem solve a concern. This team consists of school and family members who know the student. They meet to discuss the concerns about the student and may write an intervention plan.
If the school team recommends a comprehensive evaluation, parents must sign consent for evaluation components that are needed. The §504 team meets to review the assessment information and determine eligibility. The team consists of persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of evaluation data, and educational interventions. This team typically consists of parents, the classroom teacher, a school administrator, and/or school nurse. The additional members could vary depending on the condition and specific student concerns and the assessments used that would need to be interpreted.
A “protected handicapped student” is a student who meets the following conditions:
- Is of an age at which public education is offered in the District.
- Has a physical or mental disability, which substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the student’s school program.
- Is not eligible as defined by Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and programs) or who is eligible but is raising a claim of discrimination under Section 15.10 of the Chapter 15 regulations. 22 Pa. Code §15.2.
The §504 Plan
After the student is §504 eligible, the §504 team meets to develop a plan for that student. The §504 Plan is designed for each student according to individual need. Students who are disabled under §504 may need accommodations, modifications and related services even though special education services are not needed. The plan also identifies the persons responsible for the implementation of the plan. After the plan is implemented, it is monitored. If it is not being successful, the team may meet back and determine to change the plan, or to screen for Chapter 14 special education services. A plan is written and then reviewed annually. Any member of the team can call a meeting prior to the annual review if there are concerns that may occur.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing Section 504, which is a Federal law designed to protect the rights of inidividuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Office for Civil Rights