Student Placement in Elementary and Secondary Schools and Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Section 504 Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities That Receive Federal Financial Assistance
TITLE II of the Americans with Disabilities Act Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Disability by State and Local Governments
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in programs and activities that receive assistance from ED. OCR also enforces Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which is applicable to state and local governments.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...
Section 504 and Title II of the ADA prohibit the discriminatory assignment of disabled students to segregated classes or facilities. These laws apply to elementary and secondary as well as postsecondary schools. In elementary and secondary schools, disabled students may be assigned to separate facilities or courses of special education only when this placement is necessary to provide equal educational opportunity to them. Any separate facilities, and the services provided in separate facilities must be comparable to other facilities and services.
To determine what the educational needs of a disabled student may be, schools must carry out preliminary evaluation and placement procedures. Specific elements that must be considered are discussed below.
Evaluation and Placement Procedures
Before placing disabled students in any educational program, schools must evaluate carefully each student's skills and special needs. Federal requirements provide standards for proper evaluations and placement procedures.
The tests and evaluation materials that are used must be chosen to assess specific areas of the student's needs. For example, a student may not be assigned to special education classes only on the basis of intelligence tests. When a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills is evaluated, the test results must accurately reflect what the test is supposed to measure and not the student's impaired skills except where those skills are what is being measured. Only trained people may administer the tests or evaluation materials.
Placement decisions must be made by a team that includes people who know about the student and understand the meaning of the evaluation information. The placement team must consider a variety of documented information for each student. The information must come from several sources, including the results of aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, reports on the student's physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior.
The placement team must also be aware of different options for placing the student so that the student is placed appropriately. See section on Educational Setting, below.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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