Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including both students and staff members, by school districts receiving federal financial assistance. All individuals with disabilities who qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are protected under Section 504. However, all individuals who have been determined to be disabled under Section 504 may not be disabled under IDEA. These students require a response from the regular education staff concerning access to the general education curriculum. With respect to most students with disabilities, many aspects of the Section 504 regulation concerning Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) parallel the requirements of IDEA.
Section 504 protects all students with disabilities defined as those having any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities/bodily functions. If a district has reason to believe that, because of a disability as defined under Section 504, a student requires accommodations in the regular setting in order to participate in the school program, the district must evaluate the student with consent from the parent.
The determination of appropriate accommodations must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student. This group is the SBLC/504 Committee. They shall review the nature of the disability, how it affects the student's education, whether accommodations are needed and, if so, what accommodations will be implemented. The decisions about Section 504 eligibility and services must be documented on the appropriate forms. Copies of the forms must be placed in the student's Section 504 folder. The originals must be forwarded to the 504 Department, and one set of copies must be given to the student’s parent/guardian. Eligibility and the Individual Accommodation Plan (IAP) are reviewed annually. It should also be noted that, under Section 504, the parent/guardian must be provided with notice of actions affecting the identification, evaluation, or accommodations of the student and is entitled to an impartial hearing if they disagree with district decisions in these areas.
In summary, it is important to keep in mind that some students who have physical and/or mental conditions that limit their ability to access and participate in the education program are entitled to rights (protection) under Section 504 even though they may not fall into IDEA categories and may not be covered by that law. Students protected under Section 504 must demonstrate a "substantial limitation." The standard used to determine substantial limitation is a comparison to average performance in the general population or a comparison to “most” students. Therefore, not all students with an academic deficit or physical and/or medical condition will qualify for services. It is also important to realize that Section 504 is not an aspect of "special education;" rather, Section 504 is the responsibility of the comprehensive, general public education system.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, “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."
In accordance with Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators, all students in kindergarten through third grade shall be administered an early literacy screener within the first 30 days of the school year. Through the outlined screening process, students demonstrating deficits in both categories defined below (per guidance from Bulletin 1508: Louisiana Handbook for Students with Dyslexia), will be further reviewed through district evaluative procedures, also defined here. Upon a completion of the battery of screeners from both categories yielding deficits in student performance, SBLC can recommend further evaluative procedures to be conducted by a trained member of the evaluative team from the Caddo Parish Dyslexia Department. Upon completion of the evaluation, review of the results, SBLC will make the determination if a student shall qualify for Characteristics of Dyslexia or Deficits in Reading.
Students in elementary grades will receive the required minutes of Language Circle: Project Read multisensory instruction per week by the student’s trained classroom teacher. The instruction may be delivered in Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 and documented in the teacher’s lesson plans.
Middle school students with dyslexia should receive the required multisensory minutes of instruction by a trained English/Reading/ELA teacher at their home school. Another option is to request a “curriculum necessity” transfer for dyslexia. Bus transportation is provided to the middle school dyslexia center nearest the student’s home school. Middle school students who receive multisensory instruction in a dyslexia center will receive an elective credit in a study skills reading class, which provides the multisensory instruction. Dyslexia transfers are approved on an annual basis.
A student in high school will receive multisensory instruction in the regular English class through a multisensory trained teacher. However, in selected high schools where students receive multisensory instruction provided by an itinerant dyslexia teacher, each student may earn one Carnegie unit per year for an English elective, in addition to pursuing a credit in the regular English class.
504 Department District Contact
2226 Murphy Street
Shreveport, Louisiana 71103