Indian Prairie School District 204 provides district-wide support to building staff and our community regarding the education of students with disabilities, who may qualify under either Section 504 or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under either provision, District 204 supports the intent of the federal and state mandate to meet student needs in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible. In meeting the requirements of LRE, our school community continues to embrace inclusive instructional practices, which are designed to provide accommodations and/or special education services within the context of the general education setting to the greatest extent possible. While a continuum of services and programming is available within the district, membership in a student’s home school and classroom is highly valued.
Section 504 is a federal law and part of the American with Disabilities Act designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . ."
The school district must provide a free appropriate public education to district students who are eligible under Section 504. Instruction must be individually designed to meet the needs of those students as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities. An appropriate education under Section 504 requires that the services be effective and fair.
Although Section 504 does not require schools to develop an Individualized Education Program with annual goals, the school does provide written documentation for each student identified and provide accommodations and/or services under Section 504. If school staff suspects a need for accommodations, a referral should be made, evaluations conducted, and possible identification determined by a team knowledgeable about the student. If the student is identified, the team might develop a Section 504 Plan.
Section 504 is not a special education plan. The school staff and parents should collaborate to help ensure that students are provided accommodations through general education. The exception to this standard is a student who has been determined eligible as having a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Such a student could receive special education services under IDEA and accommodations required under Section 504.
Each building has a Section 504 Coordinator. If your child has a disability, which “substantially limits one or more major life activities”, please contact your building Section 504 Coordinator for additional information regarding your child. The Section 504 District Coordinator is Michelle Ferris, Director Student Services.
The Illinois State Board of Education has published a comprehensive guide to Understanding Special Education in Illinois. This guide can be accessed in both English and Spanish on the state website. District policies and procedures related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are also available on District 204's Board of Education website.
In Indian Prairie School District 204, services are provided for children who qualify for an Individual Education Plan through the following eligibility categories. Specific definitions for each of these areas are available in the state guide:
- Cognitive Disability
- Developmental Delay (ages 3-9)
- Emotional Disability
- Hearing Impairment
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impaired
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech and Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment
Students are identified for special education through a child find process as required by federal and state guidelines. For students who are 3-5 years old, developmental screening and services are available through the Preschool Program.
For students who are currently attending our K-12 buildings, the district uses a Problem Solving process to provide early interventions to supplement research based core instruction for academic or behavioral concerns. The building Problem Solving Team regularly reviews classroom performance and assists in connecting students to appropriate interventions. The data from this process then provides the foundation for a Response to Intervention (RtI) approach, which may result in a referral for screening and a possible determination of eligibility for special education services. (link to PS brochure in English and Spanish) Please note that an RtI process is specifically mandated by the State of Illinois in the determination of a Specific Learning Disability.
While the vast majority of our students receive services in their home school, if a student's needs cannot be met with support at his/her neighborhood school the educational team will determine an appropriate, least restrictive service delivery option that best addresses his/her current needs. If students have sufficient need for a self-contained and intensive setting, specialized classrooms are available in specific buildings across the district. District 204 is currently a participating member of the DuPage/West Cook Special Education Association, as well, that provides services for children with low-incidence disabilities. This membership agreement ensures the provision of a continuum of services for students with hearing, vision, and physical disabilities.
Each building is staffed with personnel who are qualified to provide the appropriate services and support, as determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Social work, psychological services, speech/language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, and adaptive physical education are some of the related services provided as individual student needs deem necessary. The intent of these services is to support the participation of students in the general education classroom through all educators working as a collaborative team. Related service staff members are listed on building staff rosters, and can be contacted through the home school. Some staff, such as vision and hearing itinerant staff, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and adaptive physical education staff are assigned to buildings based on student needs.
The district provides technical assistance specific to the areas of autism, behavior, specialized curriculum, and assistive technology. Teams can request consultation and professional development for specific students or instructional needs. This staff is a consult to the student team, and works with the student and parent through the building team. These services can be accessed at any time in the school year.
Students with disabilities have the right to receive special education services through age 21 (up to the age of 22), if they have not received their diploma and the educational needs require ongoing instruction in order to transition to adult life. In District 204, many of our students receive this linkage and instruction through the Supported Training Experiences Post Secondary program (STEPS).
These students have completed four years at their respective high schools and each has a transition plan that began when they turned 14.5 years old. The transition plan is written to map out the four years in high school as they move toward their lives after high school in the areas related to education/training, employment, and when appropriate, independent living skills. Students come to the STEPS program after high school when they continue to require additional support to help them in reaching their goals. The needs for each student are varied based on person-centered planning. Our students are identified with different disabilities including autism, cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, and communication needs. Their need for support also varies for each student from maximum support for safety reasons to students who are competitively employed in the community with minimal support. The main overall goal for STEPS is to help students gain maximum independence in all areas of their lives as they move from a structured day in school into a life in the community.
More information is available at STEPS program.
Indian Prairie Special Needs PTA:
Contact: Student Services Department, 630-375-3060