Our obligation to locate, evaluate, and identify children with disabilities under Section 504 and IDEA.
Video Link: Child Find Obligation Overview
Child Find Under Section 504
A school shall annually “undertake to identify and locate every qualified handicapped person residing in the recipient's jurisdiction” and evaluate “persons who, because of handicap, need or are believed to need special education* or related services.” 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.32 and 104.35(b)
* Most students who require special education will be evaluated and served under IDEA, through the IEP process.
A school must evaluate a student if it has reason to suspect or is otherwise notified that a student:
- Has a disability; AND
- Needs special education OR related aids or services as a result of that disability.
Child Find Under IDEA
A school “shall develop and implement procedures for locating, identifying and evaluating all children ages  to 21 who may have a disability and . . . are eligible for special education services under IDEA . . . even though such children are advancing from grade to grade.” ECEA Rule 4.02(1)(a).
A school has an affirmative obligation to evaluate a child where there is reason to suspect:
- A qualifying IDEA disability; AND
- A need for special education and related services.
Considerations for Section 504 & IDEA
- A school may have a Child Find obligation under either Section 504 or IDEA even if the suspected disability does not relate directly to academics. For example, a suspected medical condition, social-emotional condition, or behavioral condition may trigger the Child Find obligation, even if the student is earning passing grades or qualifies for gifted and talented programming.
- The threshold for suspicion of a disability is relatively low; the question is not whether the child actually has a disability or qualifies for special education services, but whether the child should be referred for an evaluation.
- Whether a school should suspect a disability depends on the information that it knows or has reason to know at a particular time.
- “Reason to believe” or a suspicion that a student may have a disability can stem from a variety of sources, like a truancy case; information from teachers, administrators, or other school personnel; discipline situations; or parent disclosure of a medical condition or request.
- A school’s Child Find obligation does not end for students already on Section 504 plans or IEPs. A school must evaluate a student when it has reason to suspect a new or additional disability.
- If you have any questions regarding your school’s Child Find obligation, consult your in-school support, such as Special Education staffing chair and 504 coordinator with any questions. If further consultation is needed, contact your Special Education Instructional Specialist and the District 504 Coordinator. In rare cases, a final decision may be needed from the Director of Special Education, in collaboration with the District 504 Compliance Officer.
- Has a disability; AND