Disability & Accessibility
The goal of Lower Merion School District is to be a model of inclusive practices and, beyond that, to foster a deep sense of belonging for each and every student regardless of their disability. The term “disability” is defined, under law, as encompassing individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment. The District is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities have access to District programs and activities – and are free from harassment and discrimination – in accordance with federal and state law, including, but not limited to, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEIA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The following Policies, together with their applicable Administrative Regulations, are relevant to the District’s commitment to ensuring that all students are provided equal opportunity and access to programs, services, and activities, and that no student or employee is discriminated against on the basis of their disability. Please note that this list is intended to serve as a summary of the Board-approved Policies and Administrative Regulations and should not be cited as official guidance. In addition, this list is not intended to be exhaustive of all policies or procedures that may be applicable to a particular situation.
|This Policy and Administrative Regulation codify the District's commitment to establish and enhance an atmosphere where people are encouraged and expected to exhibit language, attitudes and behavior that foster sound educational practices and allow people to grow socially and academically. A process for redress of concerns is also included.
|Policy 101 Equity reflects the District’s commitment to ensuring students, employees, or families who may have historically experienced opportunity or achievement gaps due to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, language, immigration status, sex assigned at birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, creed, or religion no longer encounter barriers. In light of social and historical context, this policy provides explicit permission to treat people differently when circumstances necessitate that something different needs to be done.
|Equal Opportunity Program for School & Classroom
|Policy 103 reflects the District's intent to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to reach their potential through the educational program and not be subject to discrimination.
|Individualized Supports and Services
|The District is responsible for establishing and implementing a system for the proper identification, evaluation, placement and programming for students in accordance with federal and state laws (IDEIA, Section 504, and Ch. 16). This Policy/AR (114-1, 2, 3 & A) also strictly prohibits discrimination/retaliation on the basis of disability. In addition to academic access, extracurricular activities/athletics must be offered in such manner as is necessary to afford qualified students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation.
|Students Rights & Responsibilities
|This Policy and its associated Administrative Regulations (listed on this page) comprehensively address student behavior expectations (and consequences) as well as student rights. Among other topics, it covers school rules, student discipline, searches, freedom of expression, etc.
|Equal Opportunity Program for Employment Practices
|Policy 301 is in place to ensure that all persons shall have equal access to all categories of employment in the District and not be subject to discrimination. The associated Administrative Regulation can be found here as well.
The list below reflects a sampling of relevant District-sponsored programs, activities, and resources for students, staff and families seeking further information regarding disability services, supports and accommodations.
Lower Merion School District provides an extensive range of educational services and supports for students with special needs within our schools. These services include: Learning Support, Emotional Support, Autistic Support, and Life Skills Support. Speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, hearing support, vision therapy and transition services also are provided to eligible students requiring these services due to an educational need. A broad array of supplementary aids and services to support students' educational needs includes communication devices, audio versions of books, assistive technology, a braille production center and pre-vocational opportunities. The continuum of programs and services for children with disabilities varies in accordance with the changing needs of our community. Learn more about Special Education in LMSD.
Lower Merion School District is committed to creating an environment where all are welcome. We strive to make our facilities and technology accessible to all students, families, staff and visitors. AudioEye provides a comprehensive set of tools that allow people who use assistive devices to navigate our site. AudioEye also allows users to report any accessibility issues that may arise during their use of the site. Learn more about the AudioEye toolbar and web accessibility here.
Committee for Special Education (CSE)
The CSE is a recognized School-Related Organization under District Policy 915 and is a long-standing parent/guardian group that functions in collaboration with the District. The CSE presents monthly, informative programs to parents about special education, gifted education and students requiring 504 Service Agreements. Speakers for these programs include staff from the District, the Intermediate Unit, PaTTAN, local universities, parent advocacy groups and other invited speakers. The CSE has donated books on disabilities to District schools, developed a Listserv with more than 400 members and created a parent education video and brochure. It publishes a highly informative monthly newsletter, maintains a website, and provides resources for parents/guardians.
This student organization exists at each of our secondary schools (Bala Cynwyd, Welsh Valley, Lower Merion and Harriton). They are aligned with Best Buddies International, which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). At the school level, students involved in Best Buddies participate in a variety of activities that support inclusion and foster belonging for all students though friendship.
Please note that the District has selected the following outside resources and information to provide additional understanding and insight to the community consistent with its policies, procedures and Strategic Plan. The District does not endorse any outside entity and disclaims any responsibility for the evolving content of those sites.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II) is a federal law that extends protection against discrimination to the full range of state and local government services, programs and activities including public schools regardless of whether they receive any federal financial assistance
- The Pennsylvania School Code (state law) requires that school districts identify and appropriately educate all exceptional children, including children with disabilities and children who are mentally gifted. Relevant sections of the School Code are found at 24 Purdon’s Statutes (P.S.) Sections 13-1371 through 13-1377. In addition, several chapters of the state education regulations apply to special education programs and services. Additionally, PDE’s Basic Education Circulars (policy statements) provide guidance regarding special education and gifted education in Pennsylvania. More information and resources can be found by navigating to the PA Department of Education’s (PDE), Bureau of Special Education 's website.