Child Find and Multi-Tiered System of Supports

Like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 includes a Child Find requirement, which extends to students in private schools and students who are homeschooled. The district is responsible for evaluating students who, because of a suspected disability, need special education and related services under Section 504 (34 CFR §104.35(a)). Districts must annually

  • Identify and locate all children in the district’s jurisdiction who are disabled under Section 504 and are not receiving a public education (34 CFR §104.32(a)); and
  • Notify students with disabilities and their parents or guardians of the district’s responsibility under Section 504 (34 CFR §104.32(b)).

In Florida, each district is responsible for developing and implementing a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) for students who are struggling using a data-based, problem-solving model (Rule 6A-6.0331(1), Florida Administrative Code). Florida’s problem-solving model provides a systematic process for identifying and providing supports for students who need additional assistance. School-based teams (e.g., problem solving, school-based intervention, school leadership) facilitate the identification of off-track students, coordinate the development and implementation of interventions, and monitor the effectiveness of the interventions. When properly implemented, a multi-tiered system of supports addresses the needs of all students and ensures that students with disabilities, including students who are Section 504 disabled, are identified and given appropriate support.

Under Section 504 (34 CFR §104.35), a district is obligated to evaluate students who need or are believed to need special education or related services because of a disability. Provision of interventions through a multi-tiered system of supports does not supplant the district’s responsibility to evaluate under Section 504 (i.e., to conduct Child Find) nor can an evaluation be conditioned on completion of tiers of support in a MTSS/Response to Intervention (RtI) framework.

There are circumstances where referral to the school-based problem-solving/intervention team would not be appropriate (i.e., when the student’s disability clearly requires special education and related services for the student to benefit from education). Further, it would not be appropriate under the Florida’s multi-tiered system of supports to require students with physical conditions (e.g., asthma) who are not demonstrating academic or behavioral difficulties to go through interventions prior to considering whether the student is disabled under Section 504.

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MYTH: A student cannot be considered as disabled under Section 504 until the student has completed interventions through the multi-tiered system of supports (Problem Solving/RtI).

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