Children with disabilities may be eligible for special education and related services under Section 504. That’s because Section 504’s definition of disability is broader than the IDEA’s definition. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
What is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. The Section 504 regulatory provision…defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The regulatory provision does not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list.
Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations…include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504. In the Amendments Act…Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Congress also provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions… the Section 504 regulatory provision’s list of examples of major life activities is not exclusive, and an activity or function not specifically listed in the Section 504 regulatory provision can nonetheless be a major life activity.
What to do if I feel my child qualifies for Section 504 Service
If you suspect your child has a disability that requires protection under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, please do not hesitate to contact your school. Eligibility is determined by the Campus 504 Committee via a review of records, documentation, and information about the student. This can include, but not limited to, evaluations from the school, medical information, classroom data, and parent/teacher input.
If determined eligible by the 504 Committee, an Accommodation Plan will be developed with the input from the committee members. If the student is 13 years of age or older, their input in also valuable in the process determining upon appropriate accommodations. Committee Members consist of Campus Administrator, General Education Teacher, Student, School Nurse (if the student has a health condition or health plan), Parent and other persons who have knowledge of the student.
Although it is East Bernard ISD's policy that a parent is invited to the meeting, the Section 504 Statute indicates they are not required to attend.
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
The East Bernard ISD Dyslexia Program is designed to provide reading intervention for children who meet East Bernard's criteria. Services are offered to qualifying students in kindergarten through grade 12. Such services provide the students with the skills and strategies to “unlock” the code of reading and to improve reading fluency. Students are instructed using the "Reading By Design" program and/or multi-sensory structured language approaches. The Dyslexia teacher works with groups of children 4x/wk. The goal of these services is for students to gain mastery of the concepts taught and return to full time placement within the regular classroom.
When a child is suspected of displaying characteristics of dyslexia, a 504 referral process is started. The Dyslexia teacher, will meet with the parent to sign consent for an evaluation. The dyslexia evaluator will then assess the student using a battery of tests. According to the Texas Education Agency guidelines, the battery of tests includes, but is not limited to: a measure of cognitive ability, achievement testing, and phonological awareness testing. Upon the completion of testing by the dyslexia evaluator, the 504 Committee will meet to review the testing results of the child. Based on the evaluation data, the team will determine if the child’s testing shows characteristics of dyslexia. If such characteristics are noted in the testing, the child may qualify for East Bernard ISD's dyslexia program.
When a child qualifies as dyslexic student, a 504 committee meeting is scheduled. At the meeting, the results of the assessment will be shared and the committee will then determine the proper placement option for the child. The placement options are based on the amount of intervention needed for the child to be successful in the regular classroom. The placement options become less restrictive at each level. The placement options are:
*Not all persons with dyslexia are eligible for Section 504.
Discontinuation from Direct Services
No one factor is sufficient to warrant exiting a student from direct dyslexia services after intervention. Discontinuation from direct services is determined by consensus of the Campus 504 Committee. The 504 Committee considers the following factors when recommending exiting or a reduction of dyslexia services under Section 504.
Special Programs Coordinator
English as a Second Language (ESL)
The English as a Second Language Program (ESL) in East Bernard ISD focuses on developing proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing for English Learners. In addition to English language immersion and sheltered instructional methods in the regular classroom, ESL facilitators may go into the classroom to work with the learner.
The regular classroom educators and the ESL Facilitators collaborate for the success of the child, while teaching grade level curriculum, academically engaging students, and encouraging development of the English language. ESL is offered to Pre-K -12 to qualifying students.
Eligibility for Services
Upon enrolling in the district, all families complete the Home Language Survey, which is completed by parents. If parents do not indicate a language other than English, their children are NOT eligible for ESL/LEP services, including Summer School programs. Based on the Home Language Survey, if a language other than English is spoken in the home, the learner is tested to determine their English Proficiency level. If the student is Limited English Proficient, and a bilingual program is not offered for the native language, the LPAC may offer ESL programming.
Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC)
Each school will form an LPAC committee. All members of the LPAC must be trained to perform the duties of the committee according to state guidelines. All members of the LPAC must observe all laws and rules governing confidentiality of information concerning individual students.
Newcomer Program serve ESL students who come to the district with no English language skills (non-English speakers). The program assists these students in becoming proficient in the English language so that they may become successful in academic subjects during their remaining time in secondary school. It provides an orientation to the American educational system and culture, while giving them necessary survival skills in English and enhancing their self-esteem.
If a learner tests as "non English speaking" EBISD will offer the Newcomer program.