Section 504 Handbook
In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities
and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age or
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is a civil rights
statute which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It is enforced by the Office for Civil
Rights (OCR). OCR also enforces Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) reauthorized as the
ADAAA of 2008 which extends this prohibition against discrimination to the full range of state or local
government services (including public schools), programs, or activities regardless of whether they receive any
federal funding or not.
I. BOE Policy
Policy Code: IHBA Special Education/Programs for Handicapped/Disabled /Exceptional
It is the policy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to comply with applicable federal
laws relating to the education of children with special needs, including the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its applicable
amendments and, the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and its amendments of 2008
(ADAAA). Information regarding procedures for compliance will be made available to the
public at each school, the CMS office of Federal and State Compliance, the Pre-K-12 Student
Support Services Office and in the office of the Exceptional Children Program. Date of Adoption:
5/9/88Revised: 1/29/90, 11/26/90, 9/17/92, 6/23/99, 5/13/03, 10/12/2009 Legal Reference: 20
U.S.C. §1400 et seq., 29 U.S.C. § 794 (a) Previous CMS Policy #: 6170
Policy Code: JKDA-R Suspension and/or Placement in an Interim Alternative Educational
Setting of Disabled Students
§VII. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
A. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a non-discrimination statute that prohibits
discrimination and is designed to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities
and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students.
An eligible student under Section 504 is a student who (1) has, (2) has a record of having, or (3)
is regarded as having, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life
activity such as learning.
It is the policy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education not to discriminate on the basis
of disabilities in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the
B. The regulations for implementing Section 504 provide parents and/or students the following
1. You have the right to be informed of your rights under Section 504, which is the purpose of
this notice. Section 504 requires the school system to locate, evaluate, and determine if a
student is a qualified individual requiring accommodations and modifications necessary to
provide access to educational programs. You have the right to receive notice within a reasonable
time before CMS identifies, evaluates, or changes your child’s placement. You have a right to
periodic reevaluation and to evaluation before significant changes in placement. You have the
opportunity to review relevant educational records under the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act. The requirements are described in the Board’s policy manual on file at the
Education Center. You have a right to request an informal conference with the principal and
the intervention team if you disagree with the decisions reached by the school regarding
identification, evaluation, educational program or placement. If your concerns are not
resolved, you may request a hearing before an impartial hearing officer by notifying the
Board’s Section 504 Director in writing. You have the right to be represented by counsel in
the impartial hearing process and to appeal the impartial hearing officer’s decision Date of
Revised: 11/13/0, 10/12/091Legal Reference: 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq., 29 U.S.C. § 794(a)
Policy #: 5114A
Cross-Reference: ADD, IHBA, JICA, JICG, JICH, JICI, JIJ, JK, JKA, JKD
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (Section 504) is a civil rights
statute which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It is
enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR also enforces Title II of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and its 2008 amendment: The Americans
with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which extends this prohibition against
discrimination to the full range of state or local government services (including public
schools), programs, or activities regardless of whether they receive any federal
Section 504 covers students with diagnosed, certified or classified disabilities
who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance. To be protected under
Section 504, a student must be determined to: 1) have a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; 2) have a record of such
impairment, or 3) be regarded as having such impairment. Section 504 requires
that school districts provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to
students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits at least one major life activity.
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual
inquiry, analysis or assessment by a school intervention team or by qualified
physicians and clinicians outside of the school setting. The Section 504
regulation, at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i),defines a physical or mental impairment as
any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical
loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological;
musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs;
cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin;
and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental
retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific
learning disabilities. The regulation does not set forth an exhaustive list of
specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental
impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such
At the elementary and secondary educational level, a "student with
a disability" is a student with a diagnosed, classified or certified disability who is:
1) of an age at which students without disabilities are provided elementary and
secondary educational services; 2) of an age at which it is mandatory under state
law to provide elementary and secondary educational services to students with
disabilities; 3) or a student to whom a state is required to provide a free
appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the
regulatory definition of a person with a substantially limiting disability. The
ADAAA expanded the definition of substantial limitation to ensure it reaches a
broad spectrum of individuals without the consideration of mitigating measures
such as medications and surgical interventions. If a recipient school district re-
evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulation at 34 C.F.R.
104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no
longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or perform any
other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under
Section 504. However, this student may continue receiving protection from
discrimination under Section 504.
Section 504 excludes from the definition of a student with a disability, and
from 504 protections, any student who is currently engaged in the illegal
use of drugs (with exceptions for persons in supervised rehabilitation
Section 504 Handbook 6 rev. 10/2007
Section 504 and the ADAAA apply only to persons who have
disabilities, as defined in the acts. Eligibility for protections and services under
Section 504 and the ADAAA is not the same as eligibility for IDEA. Key points to
use when determining eligibility include the following:
• Eligibility is based on the presence of a diagnosed disability.
• Eligibility is not age restricted, like the IDEA, but covers individuals from
birth to death.
• Eligibility is not related to specific categories of disabilities, as is the
• Eligibility is based on the functional impact of a physical or mental
• Eligibility is not to be determined based on an extensive analysis.
• Eligibility is not determined by one specific test.
All the protections of Section 504 apply to all Section 504 students AND all IDEA
students. This is because Section 504 has a much broader definition of
disability than the one IDEA uses. The IDEA is a special education provision.
Section 504 is a general education provision.
What is the relationship between Section 504 and the ADAAA?
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990 and amended in
2008 as the ADAAA, has deep roots in Section 504. In many ways, the ADAAA is
Section 504 "writ large." The primary difference is that while Section 504 applies
only to organizations that receive Federal funding, the ADAAA applies to a much
broader universe. However, with respect to education, the ADAAA's objectives
and language are very similar to Section 504, and for this reason both statutes
are administered by the Office for Civil Rights and considered essentially
Section 504 has a specific set of regulations that apply to preschool,
elementary and secondary programs that receive or benefit from federal
financial assistance. These are found at Title 34 of the Code of Federal
Regulations (CFR), Part 104. Although the ADAAA applies to public schools by
virtue of Title II, the regulations have no specific provisions regarding education
programs. Therefore, in interpreting the ADAAA, the OCR uses the standards
under Section 504 except where Title II provides otherwise.
In effect, virtually every violation of Section 504 is also a violation of the ADAAA
as it applies to students. In fact, the OCR has stated that complaints alleging
violations of one statute will automatically be investigated for violations of the
other. A fairly detailed explanation of the areas considered and what OCR
looks for in reviewing compliance with ADAAA and Section 504 can be obtained
by reviewing the compliance manual issued by OCR.
Section 504 Handbook 7 rev. 10/2007
Disability under Section 504 and the ADA
The definition of disability under Section 504 and the ADAAA is significantly
broader than the definition used in the IDEA. Under 504 and the ADAAA, a
person is considered to have a disability if that person (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §706).
1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of
such person’s major life activities,
2. has a record of such an impairment, or
3. is regarded as having such an impairment.
This Civil Rights Law was the first civil rights legislation in the United States
designated as a protection for individuals with disabilities from discrimination
based on their disability status. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law
apply to organizations and employers that receive federal financial funds. This
law was intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination based on
a person’s disability. This message is very concise as it was written in an
amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 where Section 504, 29 U. S. C.
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States… shall, solely by
reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits
of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal
financial assistance. This refers to all government agencies, federally funded projects,
K-12 schools, and postsecondary entities (state colleges, universities, and vocational
The Rehabilitation Act defines a physical or mental impairment as (a) any
physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss
affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological,
musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, speech organs,
cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic,
skin, and endocrine; or (b) any mental or psychological disorder, such as
mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and
specific learning disabilities. The last part of the definition is similar to the one
found in the IDEA. However, the first part, although including some of the
categories found in the IDEA, goes well beyond those specific areas in defining
To be eligible for special education under the IDEA, a student must have a
categorical disability that results in the student's needing special education.
Section 504 and the ADAAA require that the person have a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits at least one of the person's major life
Section 504 Handbook 8 rev. 10/2007
The second part of the definition relates to the impact of the disability or
condition on a major life activity. Section 504 and the ADAAA define a major life
activity using a very functional approach. Major life activities include a wide
variety of daily activities, such as the following: caring for oneself, performing
manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and
working. Federal court cases have added recently additional major life activities,
including sitting, stooping, reaching, and eating (Zirkel & Kincaid, 1994) and, interacting
with others. Basically, any function that is performed routinely by individuals is
considered a major life activity.
For many school-aged children, the major life activity affected is learning or
interacting with others. This is very similar to the IDEA requirement that the
disability results in the student's needing special education. However, learning
does not have to be the major life activity affected in order for an individual to be
eligible for protections and services under Section 504 and the ADAAA.
Individuals need not currently have a physical or mental impairment in order
to be covered (protected) under Section 504 and the ADAAA; they may be
covered if they have a record of having such impairment or if they are simply
regarded as having such impairment or if the disability is transitory or in
Still, there may be instances when children are protected under Section 504
and the ADAAA because of their being regarded as having an impairment or their
having a record of such impairment. This should not be confused with
requiring services. These students are protected from discrimination.
Generally, these students do not require a Section 504 plan.
The Reauthorized Rehabilitation Act of 1998 included amendments to
Section 508. This section prohibits the Federal government and it entities (such
as school districts) from procuring electronic and information technology goods
and services that are not fully accessible to those with disabilities. This would
include the services of web design since the Internet was specifically
In December 2000 the new, governmentally appointed EITAAC (Electronic
and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee) created the first set of
accessibility standards for federal electronic and information technology.
Otherwise Qualified under Section 504 and the ADAAA
In order for a person to be covered under Section 504 and the ADAAA, the
individual must be otherwise qualified. This means that a person with a
disability must be qualified to do something before the presence of a disability
can be a factor in discrimination.
In other words, if a person with a disability wants to participate in some
activity in which the individual is not otherwise qualified to participate, not
allowing the person to participate would not be considered discrimination.
Section 504 Handbook 9 rev. 10/2007
For example, a 16-year-old boy with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD) tries out for the basketball team but cannot dribble, shoot, or pass. As a
result, the coach does not allow the boy to play on the team. This is not
discrimination under Section 504 or the ADAAA because the boy is not otherwise
qualified to be on the team.
Substantial Limitation under Section 504 and the ADAAA
Substantially limits is defined as
1. unable to perform a major life activity that most people can perform, or
2. has considerable difficulty to the condition, manner, or duration for which
an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to
the condition, manner, or duration for which most people can perform that same
major life activity.
The standard that should be used in determining substantial limitation,
therefore, is the performance of most people in his/her environment (EEOC,
2009)? If a student with ADHD is performing as well as most children in his
grade level and the student do not have to do significantly extra work to
achieve at this level, it is unlikely that the ADHD is a substantially limiting a major
life activity. This standard applies, regardless of the intellectual ability of the
student. When determining whether the substantial limitation requirement is met,
school personnel should consider the specifics of the impairment, the
duration of the impairment, and any long-term impact of the impairment.
Schools should remember that simply because a student is considered for
Section 504 and ADAAA services and protections does not mean the student is
eligible. Likewise, just because a student is determined to have a disability does
not automatically result in eligibility for Section 504 and ADAAA services and
protections; a substantial limitation must result from the physical or mental
impairment even the interpretation of substantial limitation is broader than prior
the implementation of the ADAAA.
The standard used, here, is not the optimal performance level for a person
but the performance of most of the individuals found in the general population.
For example, a child with an IQ of 140 who is achieving as well as average
children are achieving does not have a substantial limitation in learning. This
may be difficult for parents to understand, but the standard is still the
performance of most people in the general population.
Accommodations under Section 504 and the ADAAA
Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow
children with disabilities and impairments to complete the same assignments as
other students. Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give
students an unfair advantage or in the case of assessments, change what a test
measures. They do make it possible for students with mild to moderate
disabilities to show what they know without being impeded by their disability.
Section 504 Handbook 10 rev. 10/2007
Once a child has been formally identified with a learning disability, the child
or parent may request accommodations for that child's specific needs. The
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child's IEP
(Individualized Education Program) team which both parent and child are a part
of – must decide which accommodations are appropriate for him or her. This is
true of Section 504 Plans as well. Any appropriate accommodations should be
written into a student's Section 504 plan.
Here are some examples of possible accommodations for a 504 team to
consider, broken into six categories:
• Provide on audio tape
• Provide in large print
• Reduce number of items per page or line
• Provide a designated reader
• Present instructions orally
• Allow for verbal responses
• Allow for answers to be dictated to a scribe
• Allow the use of a tape recorder to capture responses
• Permit responses to be given via computer
• Permit answers to be recorded directly into test booklet
• Allow frequent breaks
• Extend allotted time for a test
• Provide preferential seating
• Provide special lighting or acoustics
• Provide a space with minimal distractions
• Administer a test in small group setting
• Administer a test in private room or alternative test site
5) Test scheduling:
• Administer a test in several timed sessions or over several days
• Allow subtests to be taken in a different order
• Administer a test at a specific time of day
• Provide special test preparation
• Provide on-task/focusing prompts
• Provide any reasonable accommodation that a student needs that does not fit under the
Section 504 Handbook 11 rev. 10/2007
School assignments and tests completed with accommodations should be
graded the same way as those completed without accommodations. After all,
accommodations are meant to “level the playing field”, provide equal and ready
access to the task at hand, and not meant to provide an undue advantage to
Selecting and monitoring the effectiveness of accommodations should be an
ongoing process, and changes (with involvement of students, parents and
educators) should be made as often as needed. The key is to be sure that
chosen accommodations address students' specific areas of need and facilitate
the demonstration of skill and knowledge.
FAPE under Section 504 and the ADAAA
Just as for the IDEA students, Section 504 students must get a free,
appropriate, public education (FAPE). The specific actions that schools must
take in order to comply with the FAPE requirement of Section 504 and the
ADAAA vary with each child. In most situations, simple, inexpensive
accommodations and, modifications are sufficient.
Inclusion under Section 504 and the ADAAA
Section 504 and the ADAAA, like the IDEA, require that students with
disabilities be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent
appropriate while meeting the needs of the students with disabilities. This is part
of the FAPE requirement of Section 504 and the ADAAA. Schools should always
place students with disabilities with their non-disabled peers, unless the school
can demonstrate that the student's education program cannot be achieved
satisfactorily, with or without supplementary aids and services, in the general
This mandate also applies to extracurricular activities. For example, it would
be inappropriate to send a student with a mobility impairment on a field trip on a
wheelchair-accessible bus by herself. Non-disabled students would need to
ride on the wheelchair-accessible bus in order to meet the inclusion
requirement of Section 504 and the ADAAA.
Related Services under Section 504 and the ADAAA
Section 504 and the ADAAA also require that related services be provided for
students with disabilities if these services are required to meet the student's
educational needs, as well as, the educational needs of other students. Unlike
the IDEA, which defines related services as services that are necessary to
enable a student to benefit from special education, related services can be
provided under Section 504 and the ADAAA to children who do not receive any
other special education services or interventions.
For example, a student may receive physical therapy and no other special
service under Section 504. The key in this type of example is that the student
will be discriminated against, on the basis of a disability, if physical therapy is
Section 504 Handbook 12 rev. 10/2007
Manifestation Determination under Section 504 and the ADAAA
As of July 1, 1997, schools have been mandated to make a determination
as to whether or not a school policy violation by a special student is directly
related to his/her disability– the "manifestation determination”.
For your review, Section 615(k) of P.L. 105-17 (IDEA, 1997) addresses the
required procedures to be followed in the event any special education (applies
to and is required for Section 504 and McKinney-Vento students in CMS) student
violates a school discipline policy that would result in a suspension of over ten
days (or a suspension that would, with previous suspensions that year, total
more than ten days) or expulsion, which is viewed as a change of placement.
These procedures are:
• the Intervention team and other qualified personnel will conduct a review
• to determine if the behavior in question (the school discipline policy
violation) is not a manifestation of the student's disability,
• if the behavior was not a manifestation of the student's disability, then
the student may be disciplined under the general conduct code of the
• though whatever change in placement that is made must include the
continuation of special education services.
IDEA 2004 changes to manifestation determinations adopted by Section
504 Intervention Teams:
I. Establishes a new standard for manifestation determinations.
Except for children with disabilities who have been suspended for not more
than 10 days, within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of
a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the
local education agency (LEA), the parent, and relevant members of the
individualized education program (IEP) team (as determined by the parent and
LEA) shall review all relevant information in the student's file, including the
child's IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by
the parents to determine if the conduct in question was:
• caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child's
• the direct result of the LEA's failure to implement the IEP [IDEA,
II. Adds a new provision when there is a determination that a behavior was a
manifestation of the disability.
If the LEA, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP team make the
determination that the conduct was a manifestation of the child’s disability, the
IEP team shall:
• Conduct a functional behavioral assessment and implement a behavioral
intervention plan for such child, provided that the LEA had not conducted
such assessment prior to such determination before the behavior that
resulted in a change in placement described in Section 616(k)(1)(C) or
Section 504 Handbook 13 rev. 10/2007
• In the situation where a behavioral intervention plan has been
developed, review the behavioral intervention plan if the child already
has such a behavioral intervention plan, and modify it, as necessary, to
address the behavior; and
• Except as provided in Section 616(k)(1)(G), return the child to the
placement from which the child was removed, unless the parent and the
LEA agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the
behavior intervention plan [IDEA, §615(k)(1)(F)].
III. Establishes a new standard for special circumstances.
School personnel may remove a student to an interim alternative
educational setting for not more than 45 school days without regard to whether
the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability, in
cases where a child … has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person
while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the
jurisdiction of an SEA or LEA. [IDEA, §615(k)(1)(G)]
IV. Adds a definition for “serious bodily injury.”
The term “serious bodily injury” is defined in Section 1365(h)(3) of Title 18,
U.S. Code, to mean a bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death,
extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss
or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty. [IDEA,
IV. Implementation Procedures
Referral and Evaluation
If school personnel have reason to believe that a student has a disabling
condition as defined under Section 504, the student must be evaluated. A
parent may also initiate a referral for evaluation. The parent must be notified of
evaluation procedures and parental consent must be obtained prior to
evaluation. The Intervention Team determines the nature and the extent of the
evaluation. Referral and evaluation forms are included in this manual.
At every stage, school personnel should give the parents a copy of the “Notice of
Parent/Student Rights Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” and should
document in writing that the parents have been given this notice of their rights. A copy of
our Parent/Student Rights document is available in English. Spanish, Vietnamese and
Hmong. The English version is below:
CHARLOTTE MECKLENBURG SCHOOLS
Parent/Student Rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 and its amendments
A student is eligible under Section 504 when he/she is professionally diagnosed as needing special
services or programs because he/she is one who (1) has; (2) has a record of having; or (3) is regarded as
having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as
Parents have the rights to:
1. Have your child take part in, and receive benefits from public education programs without
discrimination based on a disability.
2. Have the district advise you as to your rights under federal law.
3. Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement of your child.
4. Have your child receive a free appropriate education (FAPE). This includes the right to be
educated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate. It also includes the
right to have the District make reasonable accommodations to allow your child an equal
opportunity to participate in school and school-related activities.
5. Have your child educated in facilities and receive services comparable to those provided
6. Have your child receive special education and related services if she/he is found eligible under
the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), or to receive reasonable accommodations under
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
7. Have eligibility and educational placement decisions made based upon a variety of information
sources, and by individuals who know the student, the eligibility data, and placement options.
8. Have a right to periodic re-evaluation and evaluation before any significant change in
9. Give your child an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities
offered by the school District through the provision of reasonable accommodations.
10 Examine all relevant records relating to decisions regarding your child’s identification,eligibility,
educational program and placement under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The
requirements are described in the Board’s policy manual on file at the Education Center.
11. Obtain copies of educational records at a reasonable cost unless the fee would effectively
deny you access to the records.
12. Receive a response from the District to reasonable requests for explanations
and interpretations of your child’s records.
13. Request amendment of your child’s educational records if there is reasonable cause to
believe that they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of
your child. If the District refuses this request, it shall notify you within a reasonable time, and
advise you of the right to a hearing.
14. Request an impartial due process hearing related to decisions regarding your child’s
identification, eligibility, and educational placement. You and your child may take part in the
hearing and have an attorney represent you at your own cost. You have the right, also, to
appeal the impartial hearing officer’s decision.
15. File a complaint with the District when you believe your child’s rights have been violated.
School Level 504 Coordinator: District 504 Coordinator:
Bettie J. Chisholm
_______________________________________ 700 East Stonewall Street, Suite 506
Name Charlotte NC 28202
_______________________________________ PH: (980) 343-6169
Phone Number FAX: (980) 343-0972
Guidelines for evaluating and determining a disability under Section 504
dictate the use of a multi-disciplinary team that includes persons knowledgeable
about the student’s suspected disability. In CMS, the Intervention Team
performs this function at the school level. Information from a variety of sources
should be used. The evaluation must accurately and thoroughly assess the
nature and extend of the disability and focus on specific areas of educational
deficit, if any are found.
Section 504 Handbook 14 rev. 10/2007
The type of disability suspected and the type of services that may be
needed determines the specific evaluation procedures employed. In some
cases, solely the Intervention Team may handle the evaluation. The
Intervention Team, in cooperation with parents, could appropriately access
existing evaluation data, review school records and obtain observation data, or
conduct additional assessments to determine if a disabling condition under
Sections 504 exists, and recommend programming within regular education.
An example would be a child who enters school with medical documentation
of ADD/ADHD. The Intervention Team might collect observation data indicating
that the child has difficulty paying attention, and completion of tasks or
assignments. Appropriate services might include reorienting the child to
discussions or tasks, reiterating task completion and assisting parents with
giving feedback to medical personnel.
In cases where comprehensive evaluation is needed and/or the child
demonstrates characteristics of a disability under the IDEA that would require
special education, a referral to the IEP Team is warranted. The IEP Team
should then follow appropriate evaluation procedures as specified in the current
edition of “Procedures Governing Programs and Services for Children With
Programming and Accommodations
Once all evaluation data has been reviewed and if the student’s eligibility as
disabled under Section 504 has been determined, the Intervention Team must
determine what educational accommodations are needed. Appropriate
educational services include regular or special education and related aids and
services that are designed to meet the individual needs of the child.
Most children identified under Section 504 can be educated in the regular
setting with accommodations and/or supplementary aids and services. The
student must be placed in the regular educational environment unless there is
evidence that the child’s needs cannot be met in the regular setting with the use
of supplementary aids and services.
The accommodation plan can be modified as needed. Schools must
consistently implement all accommodations documented in Section 504
Accommodation Plans that were agreed upon by the Intervention Team and
Teachers are expected to review the accommodation plans of their students
periodically as appropriate in order to make the necessary provisions for them.
The Intervention Team and the parent(s) should review the 504
Accommodation Plan at least annually.
Section 504 regulations require that re-evaluations be done periodically, but
a specific time frame is not mandated. However, regulations do require that a
re-evaluation with notice to parents occur prior to any significant change in
placement, including graduation and long-term suspensions or exclusions.
Section 504 Handbook 15 rev. 10/2007
Exiting From Section 504
An exit is defined under Section 504 as a change in placement. Changes in
placement require a re-evaluation to determine if the student continues to be
eligible under Section 504 requirements.
Qualified disabled students must be given the opportunity to participate in
nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities. Such services and
activities might include counseling, recreational athletics, transportation, school
sponsored clubs, etc.
The nature of the disability should be considered when developing and
implementing behavior management strategies and discipline. When a student
with a disability commits a violation of the school rules that would result in a
long-term suspension (exceeding 10 days), ISS (in-school suspension) and bus
suspension or expulsion, a manifestation determination must be conducted by
the Intervention Team to determine whether the student’s misconduct was a
manifestation of the student’s disability.
If it is determined that the misconduct is caused by disability, then the
Intervention Team shall modify the current educational placement or make, if
appropriate, an alternative educational placement. If there is no nexus, then the
school may initiate “normal” disciplinary procedures. For specific discipline
procedures refer to Section XV of this manual and the Alternative Education
and Safe Schools Services Manual.
Procedural Safeguards (See Parent/Student Rights Document)
Under Section 504, parents are entitled to certain rights regarding their
child’s education. They must be advised of their rights at evaluation and
eligibility determination, at the development of an accommodation plan, and
prior to any significant change in plans for services.
Other rights include:
• the right to an evaluation decision based on a variety of information
sources, and by persons knowledgeable of the student, the evaluation
data, and placement options
• the right to examine all relevant records
• the right for the child to receive a free appropriate public education
(FAPE) in the least restrictive setting that allows for participation in
school and school-related activities. FAPE for Section 504 is defined as
“an education that meets the needs of a student with disabilities as
adequately as the needs of students without disabilities”.
• the right to request an impartial hearing if there is disagreement on
identification, evaluation, educational program or placement decisions.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act specifies rights related to
educational records. This act gives the parent or guardian the right to:
Section 504 Handbook 16 rev. 10/2007
• inspect and review his/her child’s educational records;
• make copies of these records;
• receive a list of all individuals having access to records;
• ask for an explanation of any item in the records:
• ask for an amendment to any report on the grounds that it is inaccurate,
misleading, or violates the child’s rights; and
• a hearing on the issue if the school refuses to make the amendment.
Students who are officially classified as having a disability under Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are eligible for appropriate modifications/
accommodations in the North Carolina Testing Program. Students with
disabilities may need modified test formats, special test arrangements, or a
different test environment to demonstrate achievement.
Approved testing modifications for student with disabilities must be
consistent with instructional practices that are routinely used in the general
education classroom and are documented in a current written Section 504
Accommodation Plan. The modifications needed and specific tests involved
should be clearly defined in the Accommodation Plan.
Forms 8208 a, b, and c (Procedures for North Carolina Testing Program)
should be used to document testing modification requirements. While it is vital
that all students with disabilities receive necessary modifications or
accommodations on state tests that allow them to demonstrate their true
abilities, students should not receive unnecessary or inappropriate
modifications or accommodations.
Students with temporary disabilities, such as a broken arm or hand, may be
eligible for testing modifications/accommodations. The school accountability
coordinator should be consulted for appropriate accommodations/modifications.
The Instructional Accountability Director for the test in question should be
contacted for permission to use a specific modification and then should be
notified in writing of the details of the modification implemented.
Sign Language Interpreting Services
Section 504 protects parents who have a disabling condition. Parents who
are deaf are entitled to an interpreter if they need it to have an equal opportunity
to participate in school-initiated activities regarding their child.
The following procedures should be followed:
• Parent or guardian should request in writing to the principal for an
interpreter at least seven (7) school days prior to the event or activity.
• Principal should call the ESL Office for the assignment of an interpreter
at least five (5) school days prior to the event or activity.
• If a student is IDEA eligible and needs interpreting services, please
contact the Exceptional Children’s Department at Walton Plaza.
Section 504 Handbook 17 rev. 10/2007
V. District-wide Procedures
Assurance of Nondiscrimination
Assurances of nondiscrimination that programs are operated in compliance
with Section 504 requirements are included on various applications for federal
funding and in Board Policy #6170. [34 CFR 104.5(a)]
The school district (defined as … employs more than 15 persons) shall designate an
individual responsible for coordinating compliance efforts. The Section 504
Compliance Specialist has been designated as the responsible employee. [34
Notice of Nondiscrimination
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School shall take steps to notify participants,
employees, and applicants of district responsibilities under Section 504. The
following notice shall appear in student/parent handbooks, teacher’s
handbooks, non-certified personnel handbooks and published personnel
recruiting materials. [34 CFR 104.8 & 104.32(b)]
The Charlotte Mecklenburg School System does not discriminate on basis of race,
gender, national origin, religious affiliation, age or disability in its educational
programs or employment practices.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shall endeavor to locate and identify
every qualified disabled person within the district who is not receiving a public
education. The IDEA child-find activities will be utilized to implement this
requirement. Annually, the school district shall make public announcement
through the local newspaper and CMS-TV3 its efforts to locate all disabled
youth. [34 CFR 104.32(a)]
Persons who believe they have been subjected to discrimination on the
basis of a disability should first discuss the grievance with the person’s
immediate supervisor or principal. If a mutually satisfactory agreement is not
reached then the person may make a request in writing to the Section 504
Coordinator for a formal hearing. [34 CFR 104.7(b)] The Grievance Procedure is
outline in detail below:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)
Section 504 Grievance Procedures
The purpose of the Section 504 Grievance Procedure is to settle any disagreements regarding a requested
service, accommodation, or modification of a district practice or requirement, inaccessibility of a program
or activity, harassment or discrimination on the basis of disability and violations of privacy in the context
of disability. These procedures are designed to meet the requirements for grievance procedures as set forth
in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act and its
amendments of 2008 (ADAAA). Students and their parents or representatives, who believe they have been
subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, or have been denied access to services or
accommodations required by law, may use this grievance procedure.
INFORMAL SETTLEMEMT OF GRIEVANCE
It is the goal of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to settle any grievance issues related to disabled students or
those with civil rights complaints in an informal but thorough manner as recommended by the United
States Office for Civil Rights. Prior to initiating a formal complaint, the student or his/her representative
should first discuss the matter orally or in writing with the individual(s) most directly responsible. This
person is usually the school’s principal and/or the school-level Section 504 Coordinator. If necessary, the
district’s Section 504 Coordinator or his/her designee shall meet with the person(s) filing the complaint
(hereinafter “the complainant”) at a time, date and place convenient to both parties. The school-level
Section 504 Coordinator or his/her designee shall always be someone other than the person who took the
action resulting in the grievance.
A complaint to the district’s Section 504 Coordinator should be filed within thirty (30) calendar days
after the complainant becomes aware of the alleged violation. (Special circumstances shall be
considered on a case-by-case basis.) A complainant and all interested persons and their representatives
shall have the opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint. All statements and evidence shall
be held in strictest confidence by both parties. The Section 504 Coordinator shall maintain the files and
records relating to all complaints filed. After the meeting for informal settlement, the CMS Section 504
Coordinator shall issue a written decision within 30 working days to the Complainant, the Executive
Director of Pre-K to 12 Student Support Services, the CMS Attorney handling Section 504 issues and the
Within the written decision of the informal settlement the complainant shall be advised of his/her right to a
prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint filed. Also, the complainant shall be advised that this
procedure shall not preclude his/her right to pursue other remedies such as the filing of a Section
504/ADAAA complaint with the responsible federal department or agency. The filing of this informal
grievance procedure is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies.
At the end of each school year, these documents shall be submitted to the CMS legal counsel department
for filing or placed in the secure Section 504 archives the designed CMS warehouse.
PROCEDURES FOR FILING A FORMAL GRIEVANCE
If the informal procedure fails to satisfy the dispute, the formal hearing process becomes available to all
students who have a grievance concerning a disability or who have a stated case of discrimination that may
be the subject of a complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended and/or the
ADAAA. Below are the steps to follow under the formal grievance procedure:
Within thirty (30) days of receipt of the results of the informal settlement, the student(s) or his/her
representative(s) seeking relief from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools may file a formal, written grievance.
The request must give the following information:
A. the filer’s (hereinafter known as “the complainant”) name, address, e-mail
address and phone number;
B. a full description of and the nature of the grievance;
C. description of what efforts have been made to resolve the issue informally;
D. and, the action, remedy or relief sought;
The complaint should be sent to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Office of the Section 504 Coordinator,
Walton Plaza Suite 506, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202. Upon receipt of the complaint, the Section 504
Coordinator will review the complaint for timeliness and appropriateness for this grievance procedure, and
provide the complainant with written notice acknowledging the receipt of the formal complaint.
The Section 504 Coordinator or his/her designee shall promptly initiate an investigation. In undertaking
the investigation, the Section 504 Coordinator may interview, consult with and/or request a written
response to the issues raised in the grievance from any individual the Section 504 Coordinator believes to
have relevant information, including faculty, staff and students.
The complainant and the party against whom the grievance is directed shall have the right to a
representative. If the complainant brings an attorney to the grievance meeting without informing CMS
staff in advance, the meeting shall be adjourned until an attorney representing CMS is available to attend
the grievance meeting. However, for the purposes of this meeting an attorney is not usually an appropriate
After completion of the meeting(s) and investigation(s) the Section 504 Coordinator shall prepare and
transmit to the complainant, his/her representative(s), and to the party against whom the grievance is
directed, a final report containing a summary of the investigation, written findings, and a proposed solution
or disposition. This report (transmission) shall be delivered within forty-five (45) calendar days of the
filing of the formal complaint. This deadline may be extended by the Federal/State Compliance Office for
good cause. The final report shall be provided, also, where appropriate, to any CMS officer whose authority
will be needed to carry out the proposed disposition.
The disposition proposed by the Section 504 Coordinator shall be put into effect promptly. The
complainant or any party against whom the grievance or the proposed disposition is directed may appeal to
the Superintendent. Appealing to the Superintendent will not suspend the implementation of the
disposition proposed by the Section 504 Coordinator unless the Superintendent decides that good cause
exists making the suspension of implementation or relief appropriate.
Possible remedies under this grievance procedure include corrective steps, actions to reverse the effects of
discrimination or to end harassment, to provide a reasonable accommodation or proper ongoing treatment.
SELECTION OF A HEARING OFFICER
From a list of impartial hearing officers the CMS Section 504 Coordinator and the Complainant
shall jointly select a hearing officer for the adjudication of the dispute. Qualifications for being a Hearing
Officer are as follows:
No current or former employee of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is eligible.
It is preferred that any person or persons selected should have a background in meeting the needs,
or working with persons with disabilities or civil rights issues. Where possible, a representative of
a social service agency representing the particular disability in question is preferred.
Anyone selected may not have any prior knowledge of the particular complaint.
FAILURE TO REQUEST A HEARING
Anyone who is covered under this procedure waives his or her right to a hearing if he/she has not requested
a hearing within 30 days of the incident. Other rights to file a complaint under the relief granted by the
terms of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act and its
Amendments of 2008 (ADAAA), are not waived.
In order to qualify for a formal Section 504 Grievance Hearing, the Complainant must waive an informal
hearing or have participated in the informal settlement procedure outline above. If the Complainant can
show just cause why he/she did not participate or request an informal settlement under the provisions
above, then the Hearing Officer may waive this requirement.
LOCATION AND TIME OF THE HEARING
The location and time of the hearing shall be jointly agreed upon by all parties involved, as aforementioned.
Every effort shall be made to locate the hearing in a fully accessible location. If the Complainant seeking
relief under this procedure needs signers for the hearing impaired or special accommodations, such services
will be provided at no expense to the Complainant by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools upon receiving
notice ten (10) days prior to the hearing.
PROCEDURES GOVERING THE GRIEVANCE HEARING
All hearing procedures will held before the Hearing Officer. The Complainant or his/her representative
shall have the opportunity to examine, before the start of the proceedings all relevant materials. The
Complainant shall have the right to secure aid in representation whether of a professional nature or
otherwise. This would include, but not be limited to, attorneys, health professionals, or any other person
beneficial to the presentation of the case. These hearings shall be held in private. A public hearing will be
given consideration if requested by the Complainant. The Complainant has the right to present any and all
pertinent evidence and cross-examine any and all witnesses. The decision of any and all hearings shall
only be based on fact presented at the time of the grievance hearing.
FAILURE TO SHOW FOR THE HEARING
In the event that the CMS representative or the Complainant or his/her representative(s) fails to show, the
Hearing Officer may postpone the hearing for up to five (5) days or find against the party who failed to
show. This determination does not effect the Complainant’s or the district’s rights to pursue any other legal
RECORDS OF PROCEDURES OF TRANSCRIPTS
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will or the Complainant may arrange for a transcript of the hearing in
advance at the expense of the party requesting the transcript.
DECISION OF THE HEARING OFFICER
The hearing officer must issue a written decision within ten (10) working days and furnish a copy to all
parties. A copy must be kept on file with the Federal and State Compliance/Section 504 Office. A copy of
the decision with all names deleted shall be kept on file for future reference for any other party filing a
APPEAL OF THE DECISION
Within ten (10) calendar days of the issuance of the final report, the complainant or the party against whom
the grievance is directed may appeal to the Superintendent of Schools the hearing officer’s decision.
An appeal is taken by filing a written request for a review of the decision with the district’s Section 504
Coordinator at Walton Plaza Suite 506, 700 East Stonewall Street, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202. Or,
fax the appeal to the Section 504 Coordinator at 980-343-0972.
The written request must specify the particular substantive and/or procedural basis for the appeal, and must
be made on the grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the proposed disposition. Furthermore, the
appeal must be directed only to the issues raised in the formal complaint as filed or to procedural errors in
the conduct of the grievance procedure itself, and not to new issues.
The Section 504 Coordinator shall forward the appeal to the Superintendent of Schools, and provide, also,
copies to the other party or parties involved. If the grievance involves a decision that is being challenged,
the review to the Superintendent of Schools or his or his designee will usually be limited to the following
1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or
extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the
detriment of the complainant?
2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter
to the detriment of the complainant?
3. Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision a reasonable one?
A copy of the Superintendent’s written decision will be provided within 30 days of the receipt of the appeal
and shall be sent to the complainant, the Section 504 Coordinator and, if appropriate, the school personnel
whose compliance will be needed to carry out the disposition. The deadline may be extended by the
Superintendent of Schools for cause.
After completion of these processes if the complainant finds he/she is still being discriminated against,
he/she maintains the right to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights with the Department of
This procedure was developed to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, meet appropriate due process standards,
and ensure the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and
its amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments of 2008 (ADAAA) and their implementing
Other Legal Avenues
Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United
States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal
financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United
States Postal Service.
Each Federal agency has its own set of section 504 regulations that apply to
its own programs. Agencies that provide Federal financial assistance also have
section 504 regulations covering entities that receive Federal aid. Requirements
common to these regulations include reasonable accommodation for
employees with disabilities; program accessibility; effective communication with
people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and accessible new construction
and alterations. Each agency is responsible for enforcing its own regulations.
Section 504 may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary
to file a complaint with a Federal agency or to receive a "right-to-sue" letter
before going to court.
For information on how to file 504 complaints with the appropriate agency,
contact: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania
Avenue, N.W., Disability Rights Section – NYAV, Washington, D.C. 20530
Section 504 Handbook 21 rev. 10/2007
Qualified disabled students shall be provided an equal opportunity to
engage in counseling services, physical recreation, athletics, transportation,
special interest clubs, etc. [34 CFR 104.37(b) & 34 CFR 104.37(c)(1-2)]
For example, qualified disabled students shall:
• not be counseled towards more restrictive career objectives than non
disabled students (with similar abilities)
• have an equal opportunity to participate in physical education courses
and athletics. Although qualified disabled students may participate in
separate activities for the disabled, no qualified disabled student shall be
denied the opportunity to compete for teams or to participate in courses
that are not separate or different.
Section 504 Handbook 18 rev. 10/2007
VI. Role of 504 School-level Cordinator
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System has adopted and complies with
policy and procedures that ensure protection against discrimination of
individuals with disabilities. Each school is responsible for providing a free
appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students including those with
We endeavor to and communicate with parents of students with special
needs. To effectively do so requires that school personnel be knowledgeable of
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA).
To assist school personnel and parents in matters regarding education of
students under Section 504, the district’s designated contact person is Bettie J.
Each school’s 504 Contact Person shall:
• Serve as a liaison between the school and the district’s Office of the District
Section 504 Coordinator.
• Serve as a liaison between your school and other schools.
• Provide in-service training to school staff on 504 procedures.
• Monitor 504 Student Accommodation Plans.
• Ensure that all teachers receive copies of their students’ 504
• Schedule and facilitate the review of all 504 Accommodation Plans
• Forward a copy of the 504 Accommodation Plan to accompany the
student to summer school, after school programs, driver education,
management school, learning academy, other alternative programs and
• Ensure that a copy of the student's 504 Accommodation Plan is added to
the student's Personal Education Plan (PEP).
This section includes forms for school/team use only. In addition to English,
forms are provided in other languages: Spanish, Hmong and