The South Carolina Department of Education is committed to building capacity in South Carolina to increase students’ participation in educational programs where they will leave school prepared for life, post-secondary education and careers. In support of building this capacity, the SCDE is committed to ensuring that all children, including children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
VirtualSC, a program of the South Carolina Department of Education, is an option for students, including those with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan to take courses for high school credit, provided that online courses are an appropriate instructional delivery method for the individual student.
Prior to enrollment of a student with a disability into one or more VirtualSC course, the student’s IEP team must consider whether or not an online instructional delivery method is appropriate for the student to receive a FAPE. The student’s IEP team should also determine whether or not the student’s accommodations can be provided through virtual learning. For example: preferential seating close to the instructor is not applicable to online learning.
Due to the unique design of virtual learning, extended time, as an accommodation should be clearly described using exemplar VirtualSC course pacing guides. Each student’s IEP must show documentation of these considerations for a student to be permitted to enroll in one or more VirtualSC courses (and subsequently receive a FAPE).
Prior to the first day of class, the sponsor school district is required to upload a copy of the student’s complete and current IEP into the VirtualSC Dashboard. (How to Upload an IEP Tutorial) Because VSC is providing virtual instruction to the student, VSC and the SCDE have a legitimate educational interest and the authority to access the student’s educational records without parental consent, pursuant to the IDEA and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Ensuring the confidentiality of the student’s information pursuant to the IDEA and FERPA, VSC staff will only share the student’s IEP with the student’s teacher(s) and correspond with only permissible staff in the student’s sponsor school district (e.g., the special education case manager). Each IEP will be reviewed, and VSC staff and/or faculty may contact the student’s sponsor or case manager to discuss relevant information regarding the student (including the provision of accommodations).
VirtualSC and Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act Of 1973
It is the intention of VirtualSC to ensure that students who are disabled within the definition of Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate educational accommodations and services.
Under this policy, a student with a disability is one who (a) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (b) has a record of such impairment, or (c) is regarded as having such impairment. Students may be disabled under Section 504 even though they do not require services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Due process rights of students with disabilities and their parents under Section 504 will be enforced.
Section 504 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. All individuals who are disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are also considered to be disabled and therefore protected under Section 504. VirtualSC will provide reasonable accommodations to students in accordance with the student’s 504 Plan developed by a team of individuals that are knowledgeable of the student, the evaluation results, and available services.
Prior to the first day of class, the sponsor school district is required to upload a copy of the student’s complete and current 504 plan into the VirtualSC Dashboard. (Click here for instructions on how to upload a 504 plan.) Because VSC is providing virtual instruction to the student, VSC and the SCDE have a legitimate educational interest and the authority to access the student’s educational records without parental consent, pursuant to the IDEA and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).