December 11, 2005
Special needs students were identified by Parent/Student Advocates serving Horry, Georgetown and Anderson Counties in South Carolina with the written consent of the parents and students. When appropriate, the files containing 504s and I.E.P.s (Individualized Education Plans), psychological assessments, doctors' reports, outside assessment by psychologist, neuro-psychologist, and other professionals, were examined and reviewed for the purpose of this paper. A holistic approach of investigation was used to assure that each student was viewed in a realistic manner. Some students were privately interviewed for their input in the investigation process. Information from State and Federal Regulations and letters from the State Board of Education were examined and taken into consideration when compiling the findings. Individual differences in degrees of disabilities are factors that will be clarified with each case study. The examination of actual 504 Plans and I.E.Ps allowed the problems to be viewed as they actually exist. The goal is to identify and offer solutions to some of the problems with the 504 and I.E.P. process. Ameliorating the process of developing and implementing individualized education plans can improve the education received by special needs children.
Receiving an appropriate education is an important issue concerning parents and students throughout the nation, especially those dealing with learning disabilities. Issues concerning the proper development and implementation of individualized education learning plans, known as 504s and I.E.Ps, must be identified and action taken to ensure all students a suitable education. The Accountability Act of 1998, Article 1, General Provisions, states in Section 59-18-100:
" A conviction that high expectations for all students are vital components for improving academic achievement". This statement means that even students with special needs are to be held to high expectation and academic achievement is the ultimate goal. But, is that goal being realized? For the purpose of this paper, the information gathered will concentrate on South Carolina, utilizing case studies in Horry County, Georgetown County, and Anderson County and will be used in combination with state laws and other recognized authorities in the field. It is a challenge to ensure that each student receives the appropriate education in the public and private sectors. This paper will discuss how identifying problems and issues in the development and implementation of 504s and I.E.P.s in South Carolina schools can be resolved to ensure appropriate education for exceptional children. Overview of Individualized Education Plans
Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Section 504 provides that: "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" (Rehabilitation Act 1973, p.56). The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a free appropriate education (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person's disability. Student's having difficulty in school subjects could be eligible for a 504 plan which does not require recognition of severe disability. This plan is not subsidized by the federal government. School districts are not required to respond to the success or failure of 504 plans, unless a complaint is filed to the state by the...