Articles tagged with Section 504

Public schools not required to provide Section 504 services to private school students, NSBA says

Does a student who attends private school have the right to receive special education or related services from his public school? That’s what parents of a Baltimore County, Md., student are arguing in a case before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But in an amicus brief to the court, NSBA argues that Section 504, the federal non-discrimination statute cited by the plaintiffs, does not permit parents who opt out of the public schools from receiving special education services or similar accommodations.

“For those students whose parents elect to enroll them in public school, Section 504 establishes as collaborative process whereby a team of school professionals can develop an integrated plan for service each student with disabilities,” says the brief, filed by NSBA, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the Virginia School Boards Association.

“Following the Parents’ position would turn such a plan into a disjointed grab-bag of services from which parents, and/or private schools could select on an ad hoc basis. This would be to the detriment of the student, and certainly was not envisioned by Congress when it enacted Section 504.”

In the case, D.L. v. Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, the court will review whether a public school system must provide educational services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to a resident student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) whose parents have unilaterally enrolled him in a private school. 

“School districts, in these tough economic times, are being forced to drastically cut their budgets,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “The federal funds for education programs and services for students with disabilities provided through IDEA pay for only a small portion of the true cost of educating special needs students and should be reserved primarily for public school students.”

This case involves a student with ADHD whose parents have placed him in a private school.  When the parents requested that their son be evaluated to determine his eligibility for special education services, the Baltimore City Public Schools found that he was not eligible under the IDEA but was qualified under Section 504.  A Section 504 plan was not developed because the student remained enrolled in a private school.

The parents filed a complaint, and a hearing officer found that the school system was not obligated under Section 504 to provide special education services to the student because his parents had unilaterally placed him in a private school. This ruling was affirmed by the U.S. District Court for Maryland, but the parents have now appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

“Congress did not intend through Section 504 for school districts to pay for students enrolled unilaterally in private schools by their parents,” said NSBA’s General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr. “The Fourth Circuit should not expand Section 504 to require public schools’ to fund the education of students in private schools beyond the parameters of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).”

Lawrence Hardy|April 17th, 2012|Categories: School Law|Tags: , , |

Law gives schools flexibility on location of special services, NSBA says

Federal law requires school districts to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education, but it is up to the district to decide where that requirement can best be met, NSBA and the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) said in a brief filed for R.K. v. Board of Education of Scott County, Kentucky recently in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case was initiated in 2009, when “R.K,” a student with Type I diabetes, was in kindergartener in Scott County, Ky. Initially, R.K. needed insulin injections during the school day, but later he began using an insulin pump that required accurate input of certain dietary information.

The NSBA-KSBA brief noted that the Kentucky Board of Nursing had advised schools not to delegate the responsibility for monitoring insulin pumps to other staff. With this recommendation in mind, the district told R. K.’s parents that he could attend one of two elementary with onsite nurses. However, the parents said the district had an obligation to educate R.K. at his neighborhood school, and sued.

A district court judge ruled in June that R.K. had no “absolute right” to attend his neighborhood school, and the parents appealed the decision to the 6th Circuit.

The NBSA-KSBA brief says there is a fundamental difference between an “educational placement” decision, concerning the types of services and supports offered to a student, and the “physical location” where those services are provided.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) requires that students be educated in “the least restrictive environment,” the brief says. However, in the Kentucky case, NSBA and KSBA said, “the student does not allege he has been removed from education with his non-disabled peers; his sole allegation is that he was denied assignment to his neighborhood school.”

NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón Jr. said Section 504 does not require districts to educate children with disabilities in their neighborhood school.

“The court should not read into Section 504 a requirement that a school district be required to provide all disability-related services to students in their neighborhood schools,” Negrón said.

“In addition to minimizing the role of the individualized education program staffing process, such a ruling could needlessly increase costs by minimizing the flexibility of school districts in managing limited resources.”

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant said a decision against the school district threatens the “common practice of deploying the districts’ resources in a many that is both fiscally responsible and educationally sound.”

Lawrence Hardy|October 20th, 2011|Categories: School Law, Special Education, Wellness, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |
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