Special Education and Section 504 Programming

Thomas MacLaren School serves students with special needs (Special Education) in accordance with the Exceptional Children’s Education Act and Colorado Department of Education guidelines. Programs are provided through resource services and contracted-related service providers in both the Upper and Lower School. 

IEP/504 Plan Transfers

Admission to Thomas MacLaren School is granted based on a lottery system, which is held at the end of January. If a student has an IEP or a 504 plan, that information is not disclosed on the Letter of Intent. The Exceptional Student Services (ESS) teachers follow a procedure to ensure that students are admitted to Thomas MacLaren School without discrimination, and that their individual needs can be met within the Thomas MacLaren service delivery model. 

After being selected in the lottery system (the IEP/504 plan is not indicated on the Letter of Intent; all students selected are admitted pending a review of IEP/504 paperwork), a parent fills out enrollment paperwork indicating that their child currently receives services or accommodations through an IEP or 504 plan. The ESS department calls the current school of attendance to obtain a copy of the plan. The plan is read and compared to the Thomas MacLaren service model to determine if services and accommodations can be met as they are currently written.

The ESS team meets to discuss service delivery and case management before contacting the parents to inform them of acceptance. This process is completed prior to the end of the school year. A  transfer meeting with the current school of attendance, the ESS department at Thomas MacLaren, parents, student, administrators, and teachers (for the following school year) is called and the IEP/504 plan is either accepted as written, or necessary changes are discussed, interim services are written, and an IEP/504 meeting is scheduled. 

Eligibility Under Section 504

To be protected under Section 504 and entitled to a Section 504 plan, a student must: 

(1) have a physical or mental impairment that 
(2) substantially limits 
(3) one or more major life activities. 

At Thomas MacLaren School, short-term impacts (less than a whole school year) are often managed by grade-level teams on an Academic Plan, rather than a Section 504 Plan. 

Special Education/Section 504 Referral and Evaluation

At Thomas MacLaren School, exceptional students are referred, evaluated, and then monitored closely using academic, behavioral, and observational data, as well as teacher and parent collaboration to ensure that services/interventions/accommodations being provided continue to be effective.
The referral process begins once a student requiring Tier 3 level intervention has shown progress at a rate that indicates he/she will not catch up to his grade-level peers with intervention, accommodations, and support, and that significant changes to his/her educational experience will be necessary for the student to gain reasonable benefit from school.
Thomas MacLaren School is a charter public school, and adheres to the same requirements under IDEA as all public district schools. 


Direct questions or concerns about the Special Education Program at MacLaren to Mrs. Jordan, K-12 Special Education Coordinator.

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