The Student Support Services works to support GSCS schools and students
- Reducing barriers to regular school attendance
- Increasing opportunities for participation in athletics and activities
- Providing positive and harmonious school environments, where diversity is respected and encouraged
Student Services represents a broad spectrum of supports and services within the school district's field of operation consisting of:
- Educational records maintenance policies
- Gifted services screening, evaluation, and programmatic oversight
- Guidance services and K-12 programming
- Homebound services
- Homeschool services & compliance
- Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH) & reporting
- Nursing & health related services
- School Psychology services and referrals / CRISIS INTERVENTION
- Special Education services including, but not limited to, K-12 programmatic design and state & federal compliance.
Gulf Shores City Schools coordinates prevention and intervention programs to support schools, students, and parents by addressing the cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of all students to maximize student achievement. GSCS provides a variety of supports, in collaboration with other agencies, to help students' well-being.
- Child Abuse
- Bullying and Harassment
- Child Find
- Code of Conduct
- Drug and Alcohol Prevention
- English As A Second Language-ESL
- Homeless Services
- Neglect -Delinquent-At-Risk
- Section 504
- Suicide Prevention and Awareness
Attendance matters to academic performance. Students are chronically absent if they miss 10% of school days - that's only two days a month.
Studies show children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade.
By middle and high school, chronic absence is a leading warning sign that a student will drop out.
If your child is going to be absent from school, communicate with the school in advance. An academic plan may be needed to keep your child on track.
While attendance is very important, please keep your child home if they are truly sick.
Parents and guardians can help support regular attendance by:
- Avoiding extended vacations that require your children to miss school.
- Trying to line up vacations and doctor’s appointments with the school’s schedule.
- Setting a regular bedtime and morning routine allowing for 9 to 11 hours of sleep for younger students and 8 to 10 hours of sleep for older students.
- Laying out clothes and packing backpacks the night before to make your morning routines run more smoothly.
- Why is regular attendance important?
- What is an excused absence?
- How do I inform the school when my child is absent?
- How should I handle situations when our child will be absent for an extended time?
- When should I keep my child home from school?
Students who aren’t in school miss important learning. Missing just two days of school a month for any reason – illness, excused or unexcused absence – can affect student performance. Research has found a correlation between chronic or excessive absenteeism, whether excused or unexcused, and lower assessment scores and lower graduation rates.
Under state law, student absences will be considered excused for the following reasons:
- The student is participating in a district- or school-approved activity;
- The student is ill or has a health condition or medical appointment;
- The student has a family emergency;
- The student is absent due to the observance of a religious or cultural holiday;
- The student is involved in a court, judicial proceeding, or is serving on a jury;
- The student is participating in a post-secondary, technical school, or apprenticeship program visitation or scholarship interview;
- The student is participating in a state-recognized search and rescue activity;
- The student is absent due to an issue directly related to their homeless status;
- The student is absent related to the deployment activities of a parent or legal guardian who is on active duty;
- The student is absent due to school discipline; or
- The student is absent due to an activity that the principal and parent mutually approve of.
School principals have the authority to determine if an absence meets any of these criteria.
Ideally students are in school every day. When parents or guardians need to take their student out of town, they should make arrangements with the school for the absence. Provisions should be made by the parent for some program of study so that the student is not too far behind the instructional program on his/her return to school.
All Gulf Shores City School System employees and volunteers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. Child abuse includes physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Abuse information can be revealed during regular contact with a child in the classroom, in a counseling session, through reporting by another child or children of alleged incidents of suspected abuse. Employees and volunteers should immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to a school counselor or school administrator.
Gulf Shores City Schools is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students. All students have the right to a safe, supportive school environment. Bullying, harassment, or intimidation will not be tolerated. Bullying and harassment are behaviors that make someone feel intimidated or offended. Bullying and harassment are unfair, one-sided, repeated and one person may be using their power over another person.
Reporting an incident
Bullying can be reported by students, parents, staff members, or anyone who witnesses or is concerned about an alleged incident.
All reports will be investigated. The school principal (or designee) must investigate within two school days, and parents should expect to hear about resolution within two further school days. The principal also reports the investigation and action taken to the district office.
If the investigation concludes that bullying took place, the bully will be disciplined in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
Gulf Shores City School System ensures that all children residing within the jurisdiction of the public education agency, birth to 21, regardless of the severity of their disability and who need special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. Child Find applies to children who attend private schools, including children attending religious schools within the public education agency's jurisdiction, highly mobile children with disabilities (i.e., migrant and homeless children), and children who are suspected of having a disability and are in need of special education even thought they are advancing grade to grade. Child Find also includes a practical method of determining that eligible children with disabilities are receiving needed special education and related services.
(Public Education Agency Only)
Child Find activities will be conducted on a continuous basis as described below:
A. Procedures used to identify and locate children.
1. Gulf Shores City School System will provide on-going public notice of the services available to students with disabilities through various media including: radio and television announcements, articles and notices in the local newspaper, information provided on the Gulf Shores City School System website, posters placed in local school, agencies, hospitals, and pediatricians offices, Civic Clubs/Agency presentations, and/or Gulf Shores City Schools Student/Parent Information Guide.
2. The Gulf Shores City School System will contact individuals and agencies that provide services to children with disabilities through various means such as personal phone calls, meetings with special education personnel, and written correspondence. Such agencies include: Children's Rehabilitation Services, Department of Human Resources, Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Health, local health care and medical providers, day care centers, early intervention programs, i.e., Head Start, preschool programs, church or private kindergartens, private schools, speech and hearing center, and/or social security (migrant and homeless).
3. Gulf Shores City School personnel will implement the following procedures to ensure that students who may be in need of special education are identified: School personnel will review current state and local testing information, grades, and/or progress monitoring of intervention plans to identify students with possible learning problems. The Director of Special Education, the school administrator, and/or Special Education staff (In-person or online) will provide annual in-service training for local school personnel of the referral process for special education. Each school has a Problem Solving Team (PST) that will be utilized to facilitate in identifying students who may need special education services as opposed to those students who are at-risk or may not have had prior access to appropriate instruction/educational opportunities and interventions in the regular classroom.
It is the policy of the Gulf Shores City Schools Board of Education to provide all students, including language minority students, migrant students, and homeless students, with meaningful and appropriate educational programs allowing all students the same benefits and rights of participation regardless of race, color, disability, sex, religion, national origin, or age. The enrollment of homeless, migrant and limited English proficient children and youth shall not be denied or delayed due to any of the following barriers:
- Lack of birth certificate
- Lack of school records or transcripts
- Lack of immunization or health records
- Lack of proof of residency
- Lack of transportation
- Guardianship or custody requirements
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act defines a homeless individual as one who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
If your family lives in any of the following situations, you may be considered homeless:
- In a shelter, motel, vehicle, or campground
- On the street
- In an abandoned building, trailer, or other inadequate accommodations
- Doubled up with friends or relatives because you cannot find or afford housing
If your child is considered eligible for the homeless program, he/she has the right to:
- Access to the same public education as other children
- Continue in the school they attended before becoming homeless, if feasible.
- Participate in all programs and activities with students that are not homeless.
- Enroll immediately in school. The school will work with parents to obtain necessary records.
Section 504 is part of a federal civil rights law known as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law specifically prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and guarantees them a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Discrimination, as defined in Section 504, is the failure to provide students with disabilities the same opportunity to benefit from education programs, services, or activities as provided to their non-disabled peers. Therefore, schools cannot exclude students with disabilities from facilities, programs, benefits, activities, or services that are provided to students without disabilities. Schools must make sure that all students receive equal access to educational opportunities.
A school-aged student is a disabled student under Section 504 for purposes of FAPE if the student:
1. Has a physical or mental impairment
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis on an individual inquiry. A physical or mental impairment may be any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
2. That substantially limits
A physical or mental impairment substantially limits a major life activity for a student if the impairment substantially limits the student’s ability to perform a major life activity as compared to the student’s non-disabled age/grade peers. An impairment, however, need not prevent, or significantly or severely restrict, a student in performing a major life activity to be considered substantially limiting.
3. One of more major life activities
Major life activities include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Major life activities also include other general activities such as eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. In addition, major life activities include major bodily functions such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
Who Can Refer a Student for a Section 504 Evaluation?
Any person can refer a student for evaluation under Section 504. Parents, guardians, and school staff should refer a student for evaluation if they know or suspect that, due to a disability, the student needs special education or related aids or services to participate in or benefit from a district’s education program.
What Should a District Do When it Receives a Section 504 Referral?
After receiving a Section 504 referral, a district should decide whether to evaluate the student and must notify the student’s parent or guardian of its decision.
What is an Evaluation Under Section 504?
Evaluations under Section 504 are individually designed. A Section 504 evaluation may be broad (including aptitude and achievement data, medical and psychological data, social and cultural information, and more) or narrow (medical data).
What Due Process Rights Do Parents and Guardians Have Under Section 504?
Section 504 gives parents and guardians the right to challenge district decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of their child. Under Section 504, a district must notify a student’s parent or guardian before it takes any action regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child and provide the parent or guardian an opportunity to challenge the action if they disagree. “Any action” includes a decision not to evaluate a student and denial of placement. The minimum necessary due process rights include: prior notice of any action; a right to inspect records; an impartial hearing with a right to representation by counsel; and a review procedure.
Must Parents or Guardians Consent Prior to Initial Evaluations and Initial Placements Under Section 504?
Yes. Under Section 504, a district must obtain parent or guardian consent in two circumstances: before a child’s initial evaluation (the first time a child is evaluated by any district) and before a child’s initial placement (the first time a child is placed on a Section 504 Plan in any district). If a parent or guardian refuses consent to either initial evaluation or initial placement, a district may, but is not required to, initiate a Section 504 due process hearing to override the refusal to consent. A district must notify a parent or guardian, but need not obtain consent, before it re-evaluates or significantly changes a student’s placement.
What is a Section 504 Plan?
A Section 504 plan is a written plan that describes the educational and related aids and services that a district determines a disabled student needs to receive a free appropriate public education. The content of a Section 504 plan is fluid and may change within a school year or between school years as a student’s needs and services change.
What is a Section 504 Team?
A Section 504 team makes decisions regarding the evaluation and placement of students under Section 504. For example, a Section 504 team determines the scope of Section 504 evaluations, decides which students are disabled under Section 504, develops Section 504 plans, and makes “manifestation determinations” for purposes of disciplinary exclusion from school.
Who Should Be on a Section 504 Team?
The membership of a Section 504 team will vary depending upon the needs of each student. The composition of a Section 504 team is fluid and may change within a school year or between school years as a student’s needs and services change. A Section 504 team must include persons who are knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the student’s current evaluation data, and placement options.
How is Section 504 Enforced?
The US Department of Education enforces Section 504 through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR investigates individual complaints of disability discrimination, including complaints that a district is denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education. OCR’s focus is on the process a district follows to identify, evaluate, and provide an educational placement to a disabled student, and to provide procedural due process to the student’s parent or guardian. Except in extraordinary circumstances, OCR will not review the result of individual placement and other educational decisions, as long as a district complies with Section 504’s procedural requirements regarding identification, evaluation, placement, and due process. The proper forum for pure educational disputes, in which a district has followed the correct process to make an educational decision, but the parents or guardian disagree with the result of the decision, is a Section 504 due process hearing.