You Asked! Question 17

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Q17:  The school says Section 504 plans do not provide for services only accommodations for my dyslexic student.  Is this correct?

A:  No.  A student under a Section 504 plan is entitled to a “Free Appropriate Public Education” (FAPE).  Appropriate education includes the provision of regular or special education services and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual education needs of the student as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met.[1]  Thus, “appropriate education” may include “education in regular classes, education in regular classes with the use of related aids and services, or special education and related services in separate classrooms for all or portions of the school day.”[2]  Under Section 504, special education may include “specially designed instruction in classrooms, at home, or in private and public institutions, and may be accompanied by related services, such as speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy [etc. that are] … necessary to the child’s education.”[3]  Section 504 also requires that “appropriate education” must be free and provided at no cost to parents.[4]

Thus, “[i]f a student with a disability … is eligible for FAPE under Section 504 but is not receiving FAPE services under the IDEA, that student is entitled to the provision of any services the placement team decides are appropriate to meet their individual educational needs, regardless of cost or administrative burden”, especially if those services had been provided to IDEA-eligible students previously.[5]  “These services can be as varied and as comprehensive as necessary to meet a student’s need.”[6]

(Source:  Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund –  www.dredf.org)

[1] 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(b).

[2] See Footnote 4.

[3] See Footnote 4.

[4] 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(b).

[5] United States Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (July 26, 2016), p. 27, available at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201607-504-adhd.pdf.

[6] See Footnote 5.

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You Asked! Question 8

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Q8:  IEP Team states they don’t use the terms “dyslexia”, “dysgraphia” or “dyscalculia” in student’s IEP.  What can I do?

A:  IDEA requires that the IEP Team tailor specially designed instruction to specifically meet the individual needs of the student.  As Specific Learning Disability is an umbrella term, the IEP Team needs to carefully document all areas of deficits.  If the student exhibits characteristics of dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia it is important that these areas of need are specified in the IEP.

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) encourages States to review their policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility, and IEP documents.  Finally, in ensuring the provision of Free and Appropriate Public Education, USDOE stressed the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia during IEP meetings and other meetings with parents under IDEA (Source: OSERS Dear Colleague Letter October 23rd, 2015).  To download a complete copy of this letter, click HERE.

In addition, under the California Education Code Section 56334, deficits in phonological processing need to be identified as part of special education eligibility requirements. A deficit in phonological awareness is viewed as the hallmark of reading disability or dyslexia (Source: The Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing 2nd Edition Examiners Manual by Richard K. Wagner et al. page 37). It is critical that the IEP team note deficits in phonological processing in the IEP in order to determine the individualized intervention for the student.

Please also see California Department of Education’s PowerPoint page 10 that it is okay for school districts to use the term dyslexia.

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