The referral process may begin with a parent talking to the school principal, school counselor, or the school district’s Section 504 coordinator. A student support team will evaluate student needs and make the decision about whether the student has a disability under Section 504. The team considers the following information:
- Input from the student’s parents and teachers
- Information available from the student’s outside health care providers. (Parents may be asked to provide a medical statement or copies of previously conducted medical assessments from health care providers or to give the district permission to request medical, health, psychological or other records.)
- Information provided by the student’s former school or school district if they are transferring from another district.
- If further testing is needed, the district will ask parents for written consent. Sometimes a school district nurse will be involved in assessing the impact of a student’s disability at school and reviewing information from health or medical providers.
The Section 504 Student Accommodation Plan documents specific accommodations or supports the student needs to ensure that his or her individual needs are met as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students. The comparison is to an average student in the general population.
The Section 504 plan is designed to provide appropriate supports, not necessarily all of the supports that would “maximize the student’s potential” or “the best supports.” The student support team makes an individual determination of the student’s educational needs and supports required. Like special education services, 504 plans must be implemented in the least restrictive environment, meaning students with disabilities are educated alongside their peers to the maximum extent appropriate for both groups of students.