Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination for reasons related to their disabilities. The Section 504 regulations require a school district, receiving Federal financial assistance, to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to eligible students. The FAPE must meet the students individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students.
To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or (2) have a record of such an impairment, or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. The Center provides technical assistance to support districts in addressing 504 issues.
For additional questions, please feel free to contact:
Lori Spencer, District 504 Coordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 830-484-3900
Response to Intervention-RtI
Defining Response to Intervention
Response to Intervention, or RtI, is the practice of meeting the academic and behavioral needs of all students through a problem-solving process with three key elements:
The fundamental purpose of RtI is to provide all students additional time and support needed to learn at high levels.
Laws Supporting Response to Intervention (RtI)
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA 2015) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) focus on the quality of instruction that students receive in the general education setting.
ESSA and IDEA require:
Response to Intervention is not designed to be a pre-referral process. It is not a model in which a student must “fail” before interventions begin. It is a proactive, positive approach for supporting all learners, particularly those who are struggling.
Aiding Students Who Have Learning Difficulties or Who Need Special Education or Section 504 Services
For those students who are having difficulty in the regular classroom, all school districts and open enrollment charter schools must consider tutorial, compensatory, and other academic or behavior support services that are available to all students, including a process based on Response to Intervention (RtI). The implementation of RtI has the potential to have a positive impact on the ability of districts and charter schools to meet the needs of all struggling students.
If a student is experiencing learning difficulties, his or her parent may contact the individual(s) listed below to learn about the school’s overall general education referral or screening system for support services. This system links students to a variety of support options, including making a referral for a special education evaluation or for a Section 504 evaluation to determine if the student needs specific aids, accommodations, or services. A parent may request an evaluation for special education or Section 504 services at any time.
Special Education Referrals:
If a parent makes a written request for an initial evaluation for special education services to the director of special education services or an administrative employee of the school district or open enrollment charter school, the district or charter school must respond no later than 15 school days after receiving the request. At that time, the district or charter school must give the parent a prior written notice of whether it agrees to or refuses to evaluate the student, along with a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards. If the school district or charter school agrees to evaluate the student, it must also give the parent the opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation.
Please note that a request for a special education evaluation may be made verbally and does not need to be in writing. Districts and charter schools must still comply with all federal prior written notice and procedural safeguard requirements and the requirements for identifying, locating, and evaluating children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education. However, a verbal request does not require the district or charter school to respond within the 15-school-day timeline.
If the district or charter school decides to evaluate the student, it must complete the student’s initial evaluation and evaluation report no later than 45 school days from the day it receives a parent’s written consent to evaluate the student. However, if the student is absent from school during the evaluation period for three or more school days, the evaluation period will be extended by the number of school days equal to the number of school days that the student is absent.
There is an exception to the 45-school-day timeline. If a district or charter school receives a parent’s consent for the initial evaluation at least 35 but less than 45 school days before the last instructional day of the school year, it must complete the written report and provide a copy of the report to the parent by June 30 of that year. However, if the student is absent from school for three or more days during the evaluation period, the June 30th due date no longer applies. Instead, the general timeline of 45 school days plus extensions for absences of three or more days will apply.
Upon completing the evaluation, the district or charter school must give the parent a copy of the evaluation report at no cost.
Additional information regarding special education is available from the district or charter school in a companion document titled Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process.
Contact Person for Special Education Referrals:
The designated person to contact regarding options for a student experiencing learning difficulties or regarding a referral for evaluation for special education services is:
Contact Person: Lori Spencer, Director of Special Education
Phone Number: 830-484-3390
Section 504 Referrals:
Each school district or charter school must have standards and procedures in place for the evaluation and placement of students in the district’s or charter school’s Section 504 program. Districts and charter schools must also implement a system of procedural safeguards that includes notice, an opportunity for a parent or guardian to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing with an opportunity for participation by the parent or guardian and representation by counsel, and a review procedure.