The following are some physical disabilities that are commonly associated with 504:
• Poor eye sight or hearing
• Medically fragile children
• HIV positive
• Physically handicapped children
• Allergies/chemical sensitivities
• Auditory processing delays
What kind of services and/or accommodations can my child get under section 504?
n theory, under section 504 your child is entitled to receive services and accommodations that allow him/her to fully participate in all school activities. An accommodation is any kind of change in the school or classroom structure, schedule or instruction that allows your child to participate in all school activities. A service can range from dispensing medication to providing a full time para-professional to work with your child.
Section 504 accommodations may be very simple. For a boy with asthma who gets attacks when his neck is exposed in cold weather, for example, a teacher might make sure that he wears a scarf during recess in the winter. A child with a writing impairment might be permitted to use a pencil or computer for writing assignments, or a child with a chalk allergy can be taught in a chalk-free environment. On the more expensive side, a school might be required to provide nurse accompaniment on a school bus for a child with a severe seizure disorder, a paraprofessional to help a child with ADD stay focused, or a ramp in an auditorium used for graduation ceremonies for a child in a wheelchair.
Depending upon how knowledgeable and cooperative your school district is, there are some services and/or accommodations that will be easy to get and some that you may have to fight for (see page 10). 504 is most commonly used to allow schools to dispense medication to students during the school day. If you want accommodations in the classroom and school, you may find that school districts are less familiar with the law, and you may have to educate your school about Section 504. To get accommodations and/or services that will cost the district money, you should be prepared to use your due process rights to fight for those accommodations.
Below are listed some accommodations and/or services that are available under 504. These are all examples to give you an idea of what's possible. It is by no means a complete list.
For students with medical needs:
· Getting medicine during the school day
· Receiving periodic blood tests for blood sugar levels
· Use of a nebulizer
· Getting rid of particular allergens (chalk, bleach, pesticides)
For students with other physical disabilities:
· Use of the school elevator
· Modified participation in gym (adaptive physical education)
· Learning in a chemical-free environment (for chemical sensitive students)
For students with learning disabilities:
· Allowing use of a tape recorder or calculator
· Testing accommodations, such as;
* Having questions read allowed if the student has dyslexia
* More time to complete tests
* Taking tests in quiet locations
For students with emotional disabilities or other behavioral disabilities:
· Having a modified classroom schedule
· Receiving a behavior modification plan
· Getting the assistance of a para-professional
How do I go about getting 504 services and/or accommodations for my child?
Although the law says that schools have an obligation to identify children who may be in need of 504 assistance and to evaluate those students for their needs, in New York City parents almost always have to take the first step. (As mentioned earlier, this is not always a bad thing, because it leaves you, the parent, in control.) To get 504 services or accommodations:
1. Contact the 504 coordinator either in your child's school or at the district office and get a current copy of the Section 504 Form "Authorization General Education Students Provision of Accommodations." (If your child needs medication dispensed in school or needs their blood checked or any other medically prescribed treatment, you will need to pick up separate forms from the 504 coordinator for those services.)
2. The next step depends upon what kind of disability your child has.
a. If your child has a medical or physical condition that is monitored by a doctor, have that doctor fill out the form, describing your child's disability and listing the accommodations that s/he needs. Although it is not necessary, it is a good idea for your child's doctor to attach a statement describing in more detail exactly why your child needs specific accommodations and/or services.
b. If your child has a learning disability or other disability that does not require medical care (for example, auditory processing delays or Attention Deficit Disorder), you will need a professional who can evaluate your child and explain why your child needs specific accommodations and/or services. (To find an evaluator you can either consult your child's doctor, or call Advocates for Children at 212 947-9779 and ask for a listing of evaluation sites.) It is important that you talk to the evaluator before the evaluation and explain that you are trying to get 504 accommodations and that the report is an important factor in whether or not your request will be approved. The evaluator will write a report with his/her diagnoses and recommendations. Because many districts require it, you should also ask the evaluator to fill out the 504 form.
3. Once you have all the above documentation, write to your child's principal requesting 504 services and submit all evaluations, the form, and any other relevant documentation. If you do not feel comfortable about requesting the services from the principal, you can send your request either to the Section 504 coordinator in your district or to: Chancellor's Section 504 Designee, 110 Livingston Street, Room 510, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
The principal, district or Chancellor's designee must respond within 30 school days and:
• Inform you in writing whether or not your child is eligible for 504 services,
• If services are approved, the school must prepare a written plan;
• If services are denied, they must notify you in writing on how to appeal the decision.
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