Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law that protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities. The law prohibits organizations that receive federal funds from discriminating against individuals because of a disability. School programs and activities are subject to this law. Charles County Public Schools is committed to ensuring that no qualified student with a disability will be discriminated against or denied an educational benefit on the basis of disability.
Who is Eligible?
A student with a disability should be considered for eligibility under Section 504 if he/she:
• has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
• has a record of such an impairment; or
• is regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities include caring for oneself, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, sleeping, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, concentrating, and communicating with others.
Physical or mental impairments include major bodily functions and mental or psychological disorders. Examples of common “impairments” found in 504 Plans are ADHD, diabetes, allergies, and asthma.
Having a diagnosis of a condition or disability does not automatically qualify a student as eligible under Section 504. Teachers and parents/guardians who feel a student may meet the criteria for Section 504 eligibility may request a meeting through their school-based 504 Facilitator. Referral forms are found at the following link:
Due Process Rights
Section 504 is an Act which prohibits discrimination against persons with a disability in any program receiving Federal financial assistance. The Act defines a person with a disability as anyone who:
- has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (major life activities such caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating);
- has a record of such an impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
In order to fulfill its obligation under Section 504, the Charles County Public Schools recognizes a responsibility to avoid discrimination in policies and practices regarding its personnel and students. No discrimination against any person with a disability will knowingly be permitted in any of the programs and practices in the school system.
The school system has specific responsibilities under the Act, which include the responsibility to identify, evaluate, and if the child is determined to be eligible under Section 504, to afford access to appropriate educational services.
If there are questions, please feel free to contact the Section 504 Coordinator of Charles County Public Schools, at 301-932-6610, extension 7331.
SUMMARY OF PARENT/STUDENT RIGHTS IN INDENTIFICATION, EVALUATION AND PLACEMENT
(Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
The following is a description of the rights granted by federal law to students with 504 disabilities. The intent of the law is to keep you fully informed concerning decisions about your child and to inform you of your rights if you disagree with any of these decisions.
You have the right to:
- have your child take part in, and receive benefits from, public education programs without discrimination because of his/her disabling condition.
- have the school system advise you of your rights under federal law.
- receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement of your child.
- have your child receive a free appropriate public education. This includes the right to be educated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate. It also includes the right to have the school district make reasonable accommodations to allow your child an equal opportunity to participate in school and school related activities.
- have your child receive services comparable to those provided non-disabled students.
- have evaluation, educational and placement decisions made based upon a variety of information sources, and by persons who know the student, the evaluation data, and placement options.
- have transportation provided to and from an alternative placement setting at no greater cost to you than would be incurred if the student were placed in a program operated by the system, provided that Charles County Public Schools has determined an alternate placement is an appropriate accommodation.
- have your child be given an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities offered.
- examine all relevant records relating to decisions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, education program and placement.
- obtain copies of education records at a reasonable cost unless the fee would effectively deny you access to the records.
- request amendment of your child’s educational records if there is reasonable cause to believe that they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of your child. If the school system refuses this request for amendment, it will notify you within a reasonable time and advise you of the right to a hearing.
- request mediation or an impartial due process hearing related to decisions or actions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, education program and placement. You and the student may take part in the hearing and have an attorney represent you. Hearing requests must be made to the 504 Coordinator.
Parents/guardians may also contact the 504 Coordinator for students of Charles County Public Schools for additional information, to request a review or file a complaint:
Patricia Vaira, Ph.D.
Charles County Public Schools
Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building
P.O. Box 2770
La Plata, MD 20646