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IDEA Screening Not Always Imperative During 504 Referral Process

Special Ed Connection

September 8, 2006

Experts differ on whether you should conduct a learning disability screening as part of your procedures for Section 504-eligible students who have not been evaluated for special education services under the IDEA.

Since Section 504 is a general education law, which is funded with general education funding, districts often involve more general education staff in their 504 meetings. And it isn't always necessary to require a special education teacher at the meetings.

Julie C. Fay, an attorney with Shipman and Goodwin LLP in Connecticut, recommends you keep the processes for Section 504- and IDEA-eligible students separate, since there are distinctions between the requirements and procedures under both. Fay recommends under the Section 504 process you:

  • Refer the student through a 504 team meeting.
  • Send a notice to the family of the meeting.
  • Invite 504 team members who are knowledgeable about the student.
  • Convene to evaluate whether the child meets 504 eligibility standards.

"Districts should develop a Section 504 meeting form to briefly record what was discussed," she said. "I suggest a checklist reminder of the eligibility standards under 504 as well as a Section 504 plan. This plan should be reviewed periodically -- which may be annually, or more frequently, if the student's needs or placement undergo significant changes."

Bruce Goldstein, an attorney with Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher in Buffalo, New York, however, recommends the 504 team refer the student into the IDEA process if staffers suspect a learning disability.
If the student isn't eligible under the IDEA, he should be referred back to the 504 process, Goldstein said.

Jay Kravetz covers special education issues for LRP Publications.

Reprinted with permission from Special Ed Connection™. Copyright 2006 by LRP Publications, PO Box 24668, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4668. All rights reserved. For more information on Special Ed Connection™ please visit www.specialedconnection.com or call 1-800-341-7874.

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