504s and IEPs
Section 504 plans outline accommodations, strategies, and/or services that an eligible student needs in order to access publicly funded programming to the same extent as his/her average non-disabled peers. It should be noted that the eligibility criteria for a 504 plan are different from the eligibility for an Individualized Education Plan established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The North Middlesex Regional Schools are required to:
- Routinely assess all students to identify their learning needs, including but not limited to their access to the curriculum and school activities. No student with a disability "shall solely based by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance [29U.S.C. Sec.794 (a)].
- Notify parents/guardians of the Section 504 procedural safeguards when there is a request for a 504 plan or the district/school otherwise have a reason to suspect that a student may be eligible for accommodations under Section 504.
- Convene a team of knowledgeable staff who know the student well, the meaning of evaluation data, the expectations of regular education, and the district's standard accommodations.
- Determine what evaluations are needed in order to assess eligibility for a plan under Section 504. Notify parents of the school's intention to evaluate the student and provide the parent a copy of the procedural safeguards if not already done so.
- Using evaluations and data collected from a variety of sources, determine whether the student has a disability under Section 504.
- If the team decides that the student does have a disability, the team must assess whether the accommodations needed for equal education opportunity are available to all students as part of the district's standard accommodation plan.
- If the necessary accommodations are not otherwise available, the team may need to develop a 504 plan.
- Provide parents/guardians with the opportunity to review how the accommodations and/or services will be implemented.
- Review 504 plans periodically to determine if the accommodations are sufficient or are still needed in order for the student to have the same opportunity to participate as his/her average non-disabled peers.
- In the case of a failure to reach an agreement, notify parents of the district's internal grievance procedure and their right to seek an impartial due process hearing through the Bureau of Special Education Appeals at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.
If you feel your student may be in need of a 504 Plan, please contact Ms. Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up an initial evaluation.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Federation for Children with Special Needs and the Massachusetts Department of Education published the following guide to help parents understand the IEP process: