Special Education and Section 504
Special education services and programs are designed to meet the unique needs of children and youth with exceptionalities. Through individualized and specially designed instruction, children with special needs master curricula and develop important skills for living and learning in the 21st century. Summers County Schools Special Education Department is eager to assist students and their families in understanding and navigating the special education process. We welcome questions and suggestions, so contact us anytime!
SUMMERS COUNTY SPECIAL EDUCATION STAFF
Linda D. Knott, Ed.D.
Director of Student Services
Special Education Specialist
Trista B. Jones
Special Education Secretary
SPECIAL EDUCATION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is an IEP?
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the heart of the planning process for special education services. It is developed by parents and educators and addresses the student's strengths and weaknesses. The IEP is an important planning process.
What is a multidisciplinary evaluation?
If a child is suspected of having an exceptionality, a team of qualified staff (e.g. teachers, psychologist, principal) meet with you to determine the various tests that may help the team decide if your child has an exceptionality and needs specially designed instruction.
Contact your child's teacher and/or principal to schedule a Student Assistance Team (SAT) meeting. A group of educators will look at your child's progress and help you understand and decide what steps should be taken next.
What is a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
An appropriate education is based on access and participation in the general curriculum. In West Virginia, the general curriculum is the West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards. The IEP Team develops an IEP that describes the special education and related services that will allow your child to make progress in the content standards. Special education must be delivered in the least restrictive environment (LRE) which may be the general classroom for all or part of the day or, for some students, a separate special education class.
For more information, see West Virginia State Board of Education Policy 2419:
Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities
WV State Policy 2419
SECTION 504 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is Section 504?
Section 504 refers to a portion of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of 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." In plain English, that means that no student in West Virginia public schools may be kept from participating in any school program or activity solely because of his/her disability and that student may not be discriminated against at school or at school activities because of the disability.
Because it is a civil rights statute not a special education statute, county school systems receive no additional funding for providing Section 504 compliance or accommodations. Although 504 borrows language from the federal special education statutes (IDEA) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), its focus is on regular education students who may be subject to discrimination at school because of a disability or perceived disability.
Who is eligible for a Section 504 Plan?
Any regular education student is eligible for 504 protection if he/she meets three (3) qualifications:
1.) Has a mental or physical impairment (or having a record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment);
2.) That substantially limits (the limitation must impose an important and material limitation and it must be expected to continue for a while);
3.) A major life activity (included are caring for oneself, sleeping, standing, walking, lifting, bending, hearing, seeing, speaking, working, breathing, reading, thinking, communicating, attending school, etc.).
What should a Section 504 plan contain?
Once the team determines that the student meets the criteria, the team is responsible for crafting a Section 504 Plan. The goal is to ensure that the student is educated with his nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate for the student - in IDEA and Section 504 terms, educating the student in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
Accommodations usually are minor adjustments in the regular classroom such as the seating arrangements, lesson presentation and assignments which provide the student with equal access to learning opportunities.
Who is responsible for Section 504 compliance?
Most school systems have a Section 504 Coordinator. At a building level, the principal or his/her designee is responsible for compliance. Any questions should be directed to the appropriate county coordinator. Please talk with your school for more information.