Free and Appropriate Education

The Montoursville Area School District is responsible for educating all children within its jurisdiction, i.e. each student receives a free, appropriate public education. Each student has particular learning needs that can be met in a variety of settings, for example, a regular education class, a regular education class with supportive services, a special education class, or a special school.

Thus in order to provide an effective educational program for a student, it is necessary to note each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This is done through an identification process that leads to an appropriate educational setting with trained personnel providing a child’s program. The goal is to provide each child with an opportunity to achieve his/her learning potential. Thus, the Montoursville Area School District provides a continuum, of educational settings to accommodate each student.

SCREENING

The Montoursville Area School District uses the following procedures for identifying and evaluating specific needs of school-aged students requiring special programs or services. Request for screening for speech and language, learning disabilities, occupational or physical therapy, or gifted services should be directed to either the principal of the child’s school or directly to the Supervisor of Special Education (368-3502).

Upon a verbal or written request for a psychological assessment, a Request for Evaluation form will be sent to the parent within ten days. Once the signed Request form is returned to the District Office, the school psychologist will send a Permission to Evaluate and a Parent Input form to the parent. Upon receipt of the signed Permission form, an evaluation will be scheduled to occurred within sixty (60) days. Once the evaluation is complete, an Evaluation Report will be developed and discussed with the parents and classroom teacher. If the child is identified as requiring specially designed instruction, an individual education plan will be developed within ten days of the Evaluation Report meeting.

If a parent requests Speech and Language Screening, the same procedures, as stated above, are followed. However, the Speech and Language Therapist will conduct the evaluation.

For occupational (OT) and physical (PT) therapy assessments, a doctor’s prescription is required along with the parental permission. The prescription is required for each additional year that the child is receiving either OT or PT.

SECTION 504 of the REHABILITATION ACT of 1973

The Montoursville Area School District shall provide each protected, handicapped student (as defined below) enrolled in the district, without cost to the student or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to afford the student equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities without discrimination and to the maximum extent appropriate to the student’s abilities.

A protected, handicapped student is one who meets the following conditions:

· Is of an age at which public education is offered in the school district.

· Has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits or prohibits one or more major life activities (caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working).

· Is not eligible for existing special education programs and services or who is eligible but is raising claim of discrimination.

Examples of potentially disabling conditions under 504, if they substantially limit a major life activity, may include:

1. Communicable diseases: AIDS, AIDS related complex (ARC) or asymptomatic carries of the AIDS virus (HIV); tuberculosis

2. Temporary disabilities: The factors to consider are the anticipated length of disability, the seriousness of the illness/injury and the needs of the student (ie: students injured in accidents, broken limbs)

3. Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder

4. Chronic asthma and sever allergies

5. Physical disabilities such as spina bifida, hemophilia, and conditions requiring children to use crutches.

6. Diabetes

Determination:

In determining whether or not an impairment “substantially limits” a major life activity, the team must take into account the effects, both positive and negative, of any mitigating measure (medication, hearing aids, glasses, contacts, etc) used by the student. The impairment must substantially limit a major life activity despite the use of the mitigating measure. For example, a student’s poor vision does not substantially impact the major life activity of seeing if the student normally wears glasses or contacts to correct the poor vision.

FAQs:

Is it possible for my child to have a disability and not qualify for services under Section 504?

Yes, it is very possible that a student may have a disability and not qualify for services under Section 504. For an example, a student diagnosed with ADD who has made academic progress as shown by grades and standardized test scores is not substantially limited in the major life activity of learning.

What information will be used to make a determination on whether my child qualifies for services under 504?

The Montoursville Area School DIstrict will look at a variety of sources of information including grade reports, teacher/parent comments, discipline record, attendance record, psychological/psychiatric reports, and many other sources relative to your individual child. In addition, MASD believes in a “team” approach to making a determination. The determination is not made by one individual; rather a team of individuals knowledgeable about your child and the evaluation/eligibility requirements under Section 504.

If my child is eligible for an IEP, can I request a 504 instead.

No, under IDEIA, if a child is identified as requiring specially designed instruction, a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement must be written by the district and approved by the parent. If a child is eligible for FAPE through IEP and the parent refuses services, the child is not eligible for services through Section 504.