Online School for Special Education
Identification of English Language Learners (ELL) Manager
Section 504 Coordinator
504 Accommodation Plans
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is federal legislation that impacts schools and other entities that receive federal funding. The act is a civil rights statute designed to eliminate discrimination against individuals in schools and the workplace because of disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) incorporates all Section 504 provisions, and its protections are guaranteed regardless of federal funding. The regulations are very broadly written and intended to cover a wide range of public entities to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 and ADA prohibit the discrimination of students on the basis of a disability.
Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his or her 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.” If a school receives any federal financial assistance, all programs or activities of the school are covered by Section 504. Because the district receives federal financial assistance, it must comply with the requirements of Section 504.
Section 504 Comparison to IDEA
Individuals who are disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) are also protected under Section 504/ADA. While Section 504 provides for services similar to those available through special education, the intent and requirements of the acts are different. IDEA is a mandate to provide special education and related services to students who meet specific eligibility criteria for one or more of 13 categories of disability and need special education and related services.
Section 504, while intended to be consistent with the IDEA, provides broader and different coverage than the IDEA with a focus on providing equal opportunity to all students through “reasonable accommodations.” The Section 504 definition of an individual with a disability is broader, including any person whose physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, learning, thinking, concentrating, and reading. Most if not all children and young adults who receive special education and related services under the IDEA are also considered qualified individuals with disabilities under Section 504. However, all individuals who qualify for 504 services may not qualify for special education under IDEA. It is important to note that Section 504 is not a consolation prize for students who do not meet the eligibility requirements of IDEA.
IDEA identifies as eligible only children and young adults who have specific types of disabilities and who, as a result, need special education and related services in order to access and make progress in the general school curriculum.
Identification of Homeless Liaison
The McKinney-Vento Definition of Homeless
Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (per Title IX, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act) defines homeless as follows:
The term “homeless children and youths”
(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); and
(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals;*
(ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));
(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).
Identification of Foster Care Coordinator
Identification of American with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Act Coordinator/Special Programs Manager
Request for Parent/Guardian Interpreter Services or Disability Accommodations
Annual Public Notice of Special Services & Programs
In accordance with federal and state regulations, AZVA will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of AZVA’s child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities and determination of students’ service and support needs.
AZVA strives to identify, locate, and evaluate all enrolled children who may have disabilities. Disability, as stated in IDEA, includes such conditions as hearing, visual, speech, or language impairment, specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, cognitive disability, other health or physical impairment, autism, and traumatic brain injury. The process of identifying, locating, and evaluating these children is referred to as Child Find.
As a public school, we will respond vigorously to federal and state mandates requiring the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education regardless of a child’s disability or the severity of the disability. In order to comply with Child Find requirements, AZVA will implement procedures to help ensure that all AZVA students with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, who are in need of special education and related services—are identified, located, and evaluated—including students with disabilities who are homeless or students who are wards of the state.
Parent/Guardian permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. Once a student has been identified as having a “suspected disability” or identified as having a disability, AZVA will ask the student or the student’s parent/guardian for information about the child such as:
- How has the suspected disability or identified disability hindered the student’s learning?
- What has been done, educationally, to intervene and correct the student’s emerging learning deficits?
- What educational or medical information relative to to the suspected disability or identified disability is available to be shared with the school?
This information may also be obtained from the student’s present or former teachers, therapists, doctors, or from other agencies that have information about the student.
All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parental permission or as allowed by law. In keeping with this confidence, AZVA will keep a record of all persons who review confidential information. In accordance with state regulations, parents have the right to review their child’s records.
As part of the Child Find process, some services may include a complete evaluation, an individualized education program designed specifically for the child, and a referral to other agencies providing special services.
Special Education (IEP) or Service Agreements (504 Plans)
For students confirmed to present with special education needs, once the IEP team agrees on the IEP and the student’s educational placement, a Prior Written Notice (PWN) will be sent to the parent/guardian for signature. This must be signed and returned to AZVA. AZVA can only proceed with implementing the student’s IEP (or 504 Plan) upon receipt of the signed PWN. Some students are found to present with one or more disability, but do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined under IDEA (special education); however, their disability may still require AZVA to develop a 504 Service Agreement (504 Plan) to outline the special provisions a student may require for adaptations and/or accommodations in school-based instruction, facilities, and/or activities.
Parents/Guardians have the right to revoke consent for services after initial placement. Please note, a revocation of consent removes the student from ALL special services and supports outlined on the IEP or 504 Plan.
Privacy and Confidentiality
Special Education Grievances or Disputes
AZVA recognizes that despite best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and AZVA families or students. Should this situation occur, the AZVA special education case manager will initiate an IEP team discussion where the specific details contributing to any educational concern are fully discussed and addressed as the entire team determines what is most appropriate for the student. Collaboration is a primary focus for this type of meeting. AZVA’s Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families and to maximize their students’ educational success.
Dispute Resolution Options
- IEP Facilitation – IEP facilitation is a voluntary process that can be utilized when all parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and the successful drafting of the student’s IEP. This process is not necessary for most IEP meetings. Rather, it is most often utilized when there is a sense from any of the participants that the issues at the IEP meeting are creating an impasse or acrimonious climate.
- Mediation – A voluntary process in which both parties seek to resolve the issues involved in the concern with an unbiased, third party mediator from the Arizona State Department of Education. The mediator who will write up the details of the agreement that the parties come to through the mediation conference, the agreement is signed by both parties, and thus what the document states is mandated to be implemented; This process is overall less time-consuming, less stressful, and less expensive to complete than a due process hearing (see below)