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(2.38) What is the assessment process for Section 504 Is it the same as the special education assessment process?

(2.38) What is the assessment process for Section 504 Is it the same as the special education assessment process?

No specific assessment process and timeline is outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  However, Section 504 regulations require that school districts “conduct an evaluation…of any persons who, because of [disability], need or are believed to need special education or related services…”.  The school district must establish standards and procedures for 504 evaluations and ensure that:

  1. Tests and other evaluation materials have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and are administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by their producer;
  2. Tests and other evaluation materials include those tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those which are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient; and
  3. Tests are selected and administered so as best to ensure that when a test is administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the test results accurately reflect his aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factor the test purports to measure, rather than reflecting his impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where those skills are the factors that the test purports to measure).
    [34 C.F.R. Sec. 104.35.]

While there is no specific timeline under Section 504 in which school districts must complete the initial evaluation, OCR has required that the various steps leading to placement, which includes evaluation, must be completed within a reasonable period of time. [Lumberton (MS) Pub. Sch. Dist, (OCR 1991).] When deciding what is a reasonable period of time, OCR considers state timelines, which is 60 days in California, as a guideline. [Beach Park (IL) CMTY Consol, Sch. Dist. (OCR 2013).]

Once a child is found eligible under Section 504, the school district must conduct periodic re-evaluation of that child. [34 C.F.R. 104.35(d).] To meet this duty, the school district can follow the evaluation requirements under the IDEA.

Section 504 evaluation standards and procedures may be different for each school district.  The district may choose to use the special education assessment process or develop a separate process for Section 504 evaluation.  Parents should write their district Section 504 Coordinator and obtain a copy of the district’s 504 Policies and Procedures.  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 104.35.]