DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY UNDER § 504
Any student who needs or is believed to need special education or related services in order to receive a free appropriate public education may be referred by a parent, teacher, or other certified school employee to the 504 Coordinator to begin the process for identification and evaluation of the student’s individual education needs.
If the District has reason to believe that a student may have a disability and may be in need of special education and/or related services in order to participate in the school’s programs, the district must first follow its procedures for a comprehensive evaluation for IDEA, including the requirement to implement the Three-Tier Intervention Process (see steps below). If the student is found ineligible for IDEA, then the student shall be considered for eligibility under § 504. One exception to this rule is that the student may be considered for § 504 eligibility without going through the Three-Tier Intervention Process if chronic health problems exist (refer to sections below), or if the school and parents agree that the student has a disability that would likely qualify the student for IDEA services and interventions would have little or no impact. Otherwise, the school must follow the Three-Tier Process as mandated by the Mississippi State Board of Education.
The above process also applies to a student who transfers to the District with a current §504 eligibility from either out-of-state or from another school district within the State. The District has a right to conduct its own evaluation and will take steps in a timely manner to determine if the student is a student with a disability who requires the provision of reasonable accommodations that cannot be accomplished without a § 504 Plan. A meeting will be held with the parents and District personnel to determine what accommodations are needed during the pendency of the evaluation process.
Students currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs are not eligible for services under §504. This exemption does not apply to alcohol and does not include students who are participating in or who have completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program and are no longer using illegal drugs. Services should be terminated if it is later revealed that the student is a current user of illegal drugs.
A school district may take disciplinary action pertaining to the use or possession of drugs or alcohol against any student with a disability who currently is engaging in the illegal use of drugs or in the use of alcohol to the same extent that such action is taken against non-disabled students. Therefore, if a student eligible under § 504 is caught using or possessing drugs or alcohol on campus or at a school function, the school may discipline the student using the same procedures that apply to non-disabled students.