504 Policy-Discrimination based on Disability
CRANSTON SCHOOL DEPARTMENT SECTION 504
PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BASED ON DISABILITY
Pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504"), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and their implementing regulations, no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity in the Cranston School Department ("District"). The District does not discriminate in admission or access to, participation or treatment, or employment in, its programs or activities. As such, the District's policies and practices will not discriminate against students and employees with disabilities, will provide equal opportunity to employment, and will make accessible to qualified individuals with disabilities its facilities, programs, and activities. Disability discrimination will not be permitted in any of the programs, activities, policies, and/or practices in the District. This policy applies to both Students and Employees as specified herein.
Individual with a Disability: (For purposes of Section 504) any individual who (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; (ii) has a record of such impairments; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment.1
With respect to employment, a qualified person with a disability means a disabled person who, with reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.
With respect to public preschool, elementary, and secondary educational services, a qualified person with a disability means a disabled person: (1) who is of an age during which nondisabled persons are provided educational services; (2) who is of any age during which it is mandatory under Rhode Island law to provide educational services to disabled persons; or (3) to whom the State is required to provide a free appropriate public education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA).
Major Life Activity: includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.2
1 29 U.S.C. § 705, 42 U.S.C. § 12102.
Major Bodily Functions: include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.3
(a) The term "substantially limits" is not defined by law or regulation. Individual 504 teams must determine whether the individual has a disability that substantially limits a major life activity.
(b) An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.
(c) An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability, if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
(d) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as the following examples: medication, medical supplies, equipment, hearing aids and cochlear implants, reasonable accommodations, or auxiliary aids or services. This list is not exhaustive. Exception is made only for ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error.
Has a Record of Such Impairments: The individual has a history of, or has been classified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
Is Regarded as Having Such an Impairment: The individual has established that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this Policy because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
Free and Appropriate Public Education: The provision of 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 and are based upon adherence to the applicable Section 504.4
Student Section 504 Team: Composed of the building principal or his/her designee and at least two school personnel with knowledge about the student, responsible for receiving referral documents, securing evaluation information, and determining eligibility and appropriate accommodations, related aids or services for eligible students with disabilities. The team must be composed of persons who: (1) are knowledgeable about the student; (2) understand the meaning of evaluation data; and (3) are familiar with placement options. Team membership will be determined by the needs of the individual student being evaluated and may not be composed of a single predetermined group assembled to assess all students. If there are medical issues or concerns, the school nurse will need to participate and determine if it may be necessary to develop a Health Care Plan or specific accommodations that are medically necessary.
3 42 U.S.C. S 12102 (Major life activities also include the operation of a major bodily function). 4 34 CFR §§ 104.33, 104.34, 104.35, and 104.36.
Staff Section 504 Team: Composed of the District Staff 504 Coordinator and other personnel as deemed necessary for the purposes of evaluating an Employee's disability and if required, providing accommodations and special services.
District Section 504 Coordinator: An individual designated by the Superintendent to assist the District in complying with requirements and facilitating services for eligible students. This Coordinator hears both student and employee appeals from 504 Team Decisions. This individual is responsible for coordinating the District's efforts to comply with and fulfill its responsibilities under Section 504. A copy of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II the Americans with Disabilities Act, including copies of their implementing regulations, may be obtained from the District Section 504 Coordinator. The District Section 504 Coordinator can be reached at:
Name & Address: Norma Cole, 845 Park Avenue, Cranston, RI 02910
Phone Number: (401) 270-8178
Facsimile Number: (401) 270-8455
Email: [email protected]
District Staff 504 Coordinator: An individual designated by the Superintendent to assist the District in complying with requirements and facilitating services for eligible staff. The District Staff 504 Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the training of employees in the District so that all employees understand their rights and responsibilities under Section 504, and are informed of the Board's policies, administrative guidelines and practices with respect to fully implementing and complying with the requirements of Section 504. The District Staff 504 Coordinator can be reached at:
Name & Address: Kristin M. Ward, 1196 Park Avenue, Cranston, RI 02910 Phone Number: (401) 270-7758
Facsimile Number: (401) 270-8435
Email: [email protected]t
IDENTIFICATION/REFERRAL/NOTICE/CONSENT/EVALUATION/ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICES/ INTERVENTION PLANS/TRANSFERS/REEVALUATION
Each school shall make all reasonable efforts to identify students with disabilities who reside within the District in order to determine possible eligibility for special education and/or related services or supplementary aids or services in accordance with federal and state law and this policy and procedures. Any student, who the school suspects of having a physical or mental disability which may substantially limit a major life activity, may be referred for an evaluation by a certified and/or trained individual.
Parents, teachers, and the building intervention team or the IEP team may make referrals to the Section 504 Team.
Upon receipt of a 504 Referral, notice will be forwarded from the principal to the District's 504 Coordinator. The principal shall review the referral data and determine the necessity to convene a 504-education team and the composition of the team if so warranted. If a 504 team is required, the team shall first determine eligibility under Section 504 and determine the accommodations, modifications and/or support services necessary to meet the student's needs and reflect such within a Student Service Plan. Should the 504 team determine that the provisions of Section 504 are not applicable, the principal will forward a letter to the parent with an explanation for the decision and include a copy of the parental rights in that correspondence.
The student's parent shall be notified of, and invited to participate in, the Section 504 referral/eligibility meeting which shall be scheduled within a reasonable amount of time (no more than 30 days from the initial referral) and all subsequent 504 Team meetings. The 504 Team may meet and decide issues relating to the referral, evaluation, and identification of accommodations without the attendance or participation of the student's parent as long as the school has provided the parent with reasonable notice of the meeting, and the parent either does not attend or declines to attend. The 504 Coordinator must maintain a record of the notice sent to the parent and the attempts to engage the parent in participation. There should be at least two attempts before the meeting is held without the parent. The notice shall be clearly communicated to the parent and/or the student if 18 years of age or older.
The District will obtain written consent prior to conducting initial evaluations. Section 504 does not require written consent for re-evaluation or implementation of 504 plans. However, Cranston Public Schools shall follow best practice and attempt to obtain written consent for all evaluations. If a parent/guardian refuses consent for an initial evaluation or the provision of services pursuant to a Section 504 plan, the District may, but is not required to, initiate a due process hearing to seek to override the parent/guardian’s denial of consent.
Evaluations must address the concerns raised in the referral. Parental consent shall be obtained before conducting an initial evaluation and should, if possible, be obtained prior to re evaluation The consent shall include a description of the evaluation and procedural safeguards. The 504 Team shall consider all relevant information, from a variety of sources, including any reports, evaluations, or diagnoses provided by the student's parents as well as the student's grades, disciplinary referrals, health information, language surveys, parent information, standardized test scores, informal assessments, and teacher comments to determine whether the student is disabled under Section 504.
The Section 504 Team shall determine the amount of information required to document that the student has a disability and to make placement decisions.
- Accommodations and Services
If the Section 504 Team determines that a student is a qualified student with a disability, it will develop a Section 504 plan describing what accommodations, services, and/or programs will be provided to meet the student’s needs. The plan will specify how the regular or special education and related aids and services will be provided and by whom. An appropriate plan:
Is designed to address specific MLAs/MBFs in which a substantial limitation is documented;
Complies with procedures described in 34 CFR § 104.34 (educational setting), 34 CFR § 104.35 (evaluation and placement), and 34 CFR § 104.36 (procedural safeguards); and,
Is designed to meet individual educational needs of a student with a disability as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
A qualified student with a disability shall be placed in an education setting with his/her non disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate ("least restrictive environment" or "LRE"). The student's teachers and other relevant staff who work with the student must be provided a copy of the Section 504 Plan and must be trained so that they can implement accommodations and provide services beginning on the first day of school. If the qualified student requires accommodations in a regular education classroom, the student's principal shall involve the student's regular education teacher(s) in the Section 504 evaluation and accommodation process to ensure the 504 Team:
Has knowledge of the law and the relationship between the student's disability and his/her need for accommodations and interventions and/or services;
Has knowledge of the student's needs; and,
Makes appropriate accommodations in the instructional program and/or classroom environment to make it possible for the student to access the general education curriculum and reasonable accommodations to provide the student equal access to facilities, curricular, and extra-curricular programs.
The 504 written plan will describe the disability and the accommodations or related services required. The plan will specify how the regular or individualized instruction and/or aids and/or services will be provided, and by whom. Usually, the student's general education teacher will be in charge of implementing the specific accommodations.
If the 504 team determines that no special accommodations or services are appropriate, the records will reflect a determination that the student is a person without a qualified disability and will state the basis for the decision that no special services or accommodations are presently needed or, if appropriate, that the student has a qualified disability, but that there are no reasonable accommodations. The parent will be provided with written information about this decision and a copy of the Parent and Student Rights under Section 504.
Failure to implement such plan may be considered discrimination on the basis of a disability and the parent will be able to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, file for a Section 504 due process hearing, or file a complaint under the District's Complaint procedure.
- Intervention Plan
An intervention plan may be appropriate for an at-risk student facing challenges in school. Teacher Support Teams / Targeted Teams are designed to provide educators with support and strategies for helping students in need of various accommodations and assistance. Regular Education Intervention plans are not reviewed by the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, or the Rhode Island Department of Education.
If the student transfers to another school or district, the sending school shall include the 504 plan when forwarding records to the receiving school. If a student enrolls in Cranston Public Schools with a Section 504 plan from another district or state, the plan will be immediately implemented to the extent possible. Within 30 days, the Principal or his/her designee will convene a 504 team and the team will conduct a review/evaluation consistent with the procedures outlined in this policy.
The Section 504 Team will convene, not less than annually, to review the plan's efficacy and on-going need. Additionally, this allows the succeeding teachers and service providers an opportunity to learn of the student's needs and ensure that the plan is implemented at the beginning of each school year. The parent/guardian will be provided a copy of the procedural safeguards any time the Section 504 Team makes changes to the plan.
Section 504 requires periodic re-evaluation of students on Section 504 plans to ensure that a student is still eligible for services and that the services provided are appropriate. The District will conduct a re-evaluation at three-year intervals (unless the parent/guardian and Section 504 Team agree that re-evaluation is unnecessary) or more frequently if conditions warrant or if the parent/guardian or teacher requests a re-evaluation.
Section 504 also requires a team to meet and consider the appropriateness of the current plan and whether additional assessments/evaluations are needed prior to a significant change in placement. A significant change of placement includes: an exclusion from the educational program of more than ten (10) school days, a transfer from one type of program to another, or termination or significant reduction of a related service.
The discipline procedures described in the Student Handbook will be applied in all situations in which any student may be subject to suspension or exclusion (unless otherwise determined by a student’s Section 504 Team). Since suspension or cumulative forms of suspension that result in exclusion of more than ten (10) school days constitute a significant change in placement, a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the interpretation of the evaluation data, and the placement options shall convene a manifestation determination meeting to determine whether the student’s disability (or suspected disability) or the District’s failure to implement the student’s plan caused the behavior that led to the disciplinary action. If the team’s determination is that the behavior is not a manifestation of the student’s disability, then the student shall be disciplined according to the Student Handbook in the same manner as students without disabilities. If the team finds that the student’s disability caused the behavior, the District may not impose further discipline and must re-evaluate the student and make placement decisions to address the behavior.
IDENTIFICATION/EVALUATION /ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICES
Any Employee who has a physical or mental disability which may substantially limit a major life activity, should, with proper medical documentation provide such documentation to the 504 Staff Coordinator and request that certain accommodations be made.
Upon receipt of the request, the Staff 504 Team, led by the Staff 504 Coordinator, shall meet to evaluate the Employee's request. This Team shall consider all relevant information provided by the employee to determine whether the Employee is disabled under Section 504.
- Accommodations and Services
If the Team determines that the Employee is eligible for accommodations, such accommodations will be based on the specific needs of that Employee. The 504 written plan will describe the disability and the related services needed. If the Team determines that no accommodations or services are appropriate, the records will reflect a determination that the
Employee is a person without a qualified disability and will state the basis for the decision that no special services or accommodations are presently needed or, if appropriate, that the Employee has a qualified disability, but that there are no reasonable accommodations.
504 DISPUTE RESOLUTIONS
The Cranston School Department strives to provide an environment free from discrimination. The Department encourages student's parents, and staff to identify barriers to a discrimination free and an appropriate learning environment in the school(s). This policy does not deny the right of the complaining party to file complaints at any time with the Rhode Island Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights and/or to seek private counsel for complaints alleging discrimination.
Records and Confidentiality
All records pursuant to the Complaint shall be maintained by the District separate and apart from student records for a period of not less than five (5) years.
All investigations of discrimination complaints, regardless of the type of dispute resolution, shall be conducted in such a manner as to disclose information only to those who need to know or those who may have information pertinent to the investigation. Please note, some level of disclosure may be necessary in the course of conducting interviews in connection with investigation of any complaint under this policy. The Cranston Public Schools shall endeavor to keep such information as confidential as it can without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation.
Procedure for Addressing Discrimination
The following complaint procedure has been established to ensure prompt and effective investigation into allegations of non-harassment-based disability discrimination. If the complaint pertains to allegations of harassment-based discrimination, refer to the District's Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedure.
Complaint Structure and Timing
A Complaint filed by a student or on behalf of a student will be filed with that student's school building principal. A Complaint filed by an employee will be filed with the 504 Staff Coordinator. Complaints are to be filed within ninety (90) days after the conduct complained of occurred or the time the individual reasonably becomes aware of the conduct. (Note: this filing period may be extended for good cause.) The Complaint can be written or oral and should consist of the following:
- the specific action objected to, including but not limited to a team decision, action, or refusal to take an action requested by the parent or alleged denial of FAPE, 2. the date(s) and time(s) such action or refusal to take an action or alleged denial of FAPE took place,
- the name(s) of the District staff or other persons believed to be discriminating against them,
- the name(s) of any witness(es),
- action sought to remedy the situation, and
- any other details or information requested by the investigating official.
In addition, the person should provide the Principal with any documentation (emails, notes, pictures, etc.) or other information in support of the allegation of discrimination.
Investigation of Complaints
Upon receipt of a report or complaint, the Principal or 504 Staff Coordinator shall facilitate a prompt investigation. The investigation must allow for the complainant, the subject of the complaint, and the individual alleged to have discriminated to provide information, including the names of witnesses or other evidence, relevant to the Investigation of the complaint. The Principal or 504 Staff Coordinator will also endeavor to promptly interview and obtain detailed written statements from the complainant, the subject of the complaint, the individual alleged to have discriminated, as well as any potential witnesses. The Principal or 504 Staff Coordinator will also review any other documents or information that he or she believes is relevant to the Investigation.
A written determination regarding the complaint and any resolution will be provided by the Principal and/or 504 Staff Coordinator to the complainant and the accused within thirty (30) school/working days of the complaint.
The complainant may request reconsideration of the determination and/or resolution of a complaint by notifying the District 504 Coordinator in writing or verbally within seven (7) school/working days of receipt of the written determination of the Principal or 504 Staff Coordinator. The District Coordinator will respond to such request within thirty (30) school/working days of receipt of the request for reconsideration; his/her decision is final.
If a violation is found to have occurred, the District will take steps to prevent reoccurrence of the violation and correct its discriminatory effect on the person(s) affected.
If the violation involves the denial of a free and appropriate public education to a student or students, such steps may include re-convening of the 504 team, revision of a 504 plan, compensatory services, development of a safety plan and other remedies, as appropriate.
If the violation Involves an employment issue, such steps may include appropriate discipline up to and including possible termination of any employee violating this policy and/or such other remedies as are appropriate.
State and Federal Authorities
In addition to the process described above, the complainant may, at any time, file a complaint with to the Office for Civil Rights, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education, or other appropriate federal or state agency charged with enforcement of state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination.
- S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
John W. McCormack Building
5 Post Office Square, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02109
Telephone: (617) 289-0111
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: (401) 222-4600
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 701 et seq.)
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.)
Policy Amended: (Res. No. 20-12-04) 12/14/2020
CRANSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CRANSTON, RHODE ISLAND