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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act / Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance: Employees

For purposes of this procedural directive, “supervisor” means the person having responsibility for daily supervision and/or for evaluating the job performance of an employee of the district. 

For purposes of this procedural directive, “ADA coordinator” is the employee responsible for overseeing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) accommodations for APS employees.

Employment Practices

Notice of the Board of Education’s policy on non-discrimination in employment practices shall be posted through annual newspaper notices, posted on the Albuquerque Public Schools’ website, posted throughout the district, and published in any district statement regarding the availability of employment positions.

Information regarding the district’s policy on non-discrimination in employment practices shall be provided to potential employees in recruitment and interview settings.

In the planning of training sessions for employees, availability of training sessions (including physical access to the training site) shall not be limited so as to discriminate against employees with disabilities.

In determining hiring, transfer or promotion of employees, placement shall not be determined or influenced by any employee’s disabling condition.  It is the prerogative of the employer, however, to determine office, classroom, or other area of work based on already accessible work areas.

Each job description shall be written to:

  • Identify any environmental factors that may create a barrier for a person with a disability
  • Ensure that all essential physical, mental and intellectual qualifications have been defined and justified
  • Identify the types of abilities that would qualify a person to fulfill the essential functions of a job

Albuquerque Public Schools shall make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified employee with a disability, unless the district can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose undue hardship on the operation of its program and activity for employees that includes, but is not limited to:

  • Modifications or adjustments to a job application process
  • Employment policies that enable a qualified individual with a disability to be considered for the position
  • The work environment
  • Making facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities
  • Job restructuring including in a way in which the job is customarily performed and part-time or modified work schedules
  • Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices and
  • The provision of readers or interpreters and other similar actions

The district shall not use employment tests or other selection criteria that tend to screen out persons with disabilities unless those criteria are demonstrably job related.

Reasonable Accommodation Requests/Procedures

An employee who believes he/she requires a reasonable accommodation to meet the essential functions of the job may request a reasonable accommodation.

The employee shall submit a written request for reasonable accommodation accompanied by documentation of the condition for which the reasonable accommodation is being requested, which may qualify as a disability or serious medical condition. The type of documentation required shall depend on the disability and can be, among others, medical, psychological or diagnostic. Employees shall receive the accommodation while employed with the district.  The accommodation may be updated if the employee provides new medical documentation.

When the written request for reasonable accommodation is complete and submitted to the site supervisor, that supervisor shall contact the district Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator, who is housed in the Risk Management Department. The coordinator shall explore options and determine appropriate action.

  • At no time prior to this contact shall the supervisor agree to a specific accommodation or make a financial commitment to the employee.    
  • Options may include, but are not limited to, the development of an employee reasonable accommodation plan, physical access request, further medical clarification, job restructuring and/or transfer.
  • When the necessary accommodation is complicated or requires district funding, Finance, Facilities Construction and Design or any other appropriate department may be contacted for assistance. Any consideration of job restructuring or transfer shall be done in consultation with the Human Resources Department. 

The ADA Interactive Process

  1. An employee may advise his/her supervisor of a condition that may qualify as a disability for which he or she requires accommodation.
  2. The employee or supervisor contacts the ADA coordinator in the Risk Management Department.
  3. In order that the ADA coordinator has a clear understanding of the potential needs of the employee,  the ADA coordinator shall provide the forms to the employee to document the accommodation request and, if necessary, to authorize a release of medical information to the ADA coordinator. Forms also shall be provided to the employee’s physician, or other licensed diagnostic professional, to rate the employee’s ability to perform the duties and essential functions and responsibilities of his or her position, if necessary.  The forms shall be based on the job description on file in the APS Human Resources Department.
  4. When all necessary forms have been completed and returned to the ADA coordinator, the forms shall be reviewed to determine whether the employee is a “qualified disabled individual” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  5. The ADA coordinator shall take every reasonable step necessary to ensure that there is an interactive process and that only accommodations that can reasonably be expected to afford the qualified individual with a disability an opportunity to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those available to a similarly-situated employee without a disability and attain the same level of job performance as co-workers with similar skills and abilities.
  6. If accommodations involve job modifications, the ADA coordinator shall meet with the appropriate staffing specialist in the APS Human Resources Department to discuss whether the accommodations meet the definition of reasonable accommodation in accordance with the ADA.
  7. The ADA coordinator shall then schedule a meeting with the employee and supervisor, if necessary, as a part of the interactive process to discuss possible and appropriate accommodations.
  8. If it is determined that the employee is a qualified individual with a disability who can perform the essential functions of his or her position but requires an accommodation, a plan shall be developed at the meeting to provide reasonable accommodations, as appropriate.
  9. If equipment is needed, the ADA coordinator, or his/her designee, shall order the equipment.
  10. When physical access needs arise in conjunction with the ADA Accommodation Plan that cannot be met by means available at the job site, the ADA coordinator or the site administrator shall submit a Physical Access Request form to the physical access specialist at Facilities Design and Construction.  The physical access specialist shall make a site visit, in consultation with the ADA coordinator, if appropriate, to explore needs and options for a solution.  The physical access specialist shall notify the ADA coordinator, if deemed appropriate, of the most reasonable solution.
  11. Accommodations involving job modification or other employment-related concerns shall be managed by the site administrator and the appropriate staffing specialist in Human Resources, in consultation with the ADA coordinator.
  12. Individuals who are deaf and/or hearing impaired may contact the director of interpretation to obtain sign language interpreter services. If the individual knows in advance the dates an interpreter will be needed, he or she may make the request for all known dates at the time of the initial contact. Please contact the APS department listed below as soon as you are aware of your need. Requests for interpreters must be made at least 48 hours in advance of the event. 

All accommodations agreed upon and initiated shall be documented by the employee’s supervisor and the ADA coordinator using the Employee Accommodation form. A copy of this form shall be sent to the ADA coordinator, who shall maintain confidential records on disability accommodations separate from the Human Resources Department personnel files. No disability records shall be kept in the Human Resources Department personnel files.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall consider all requests for accommodation individually to determine if the request is reasonable and necessary to meet the essential functions of a job.

All accommodation requests require there be an interactive process between the supervisor, employee and the district’s Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator or his/her designee in order to determine if an accommodation can be made.

No supervisor shall suggest to an employee, in which they supervise, to separate from APS instead of seeking a reasonable accommodation.

Appeal Process

If the requesting employee, their supervisor and the ADA coordinator cannot reach an agreement during the ADA interactive process, then the ADA coordinator will follow up with the employee in writing with the options discussed for reasonable accommodations. The employee may then choose to accept the accommodations offered, appeal to the superintendent, or file a complaint with EOS. 

To appeal, the employee should provide, to the superintendent, in writing, the accommodation options given by the ADA coordinator along with the reasons why these accommodations will not sufficiently enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. The employee shall have ten (10) working days from the date of the follow-up letter to submit an appeal in writing to the superintendent. The superintendent or the superintendent’s designee will review this information and reverse, modify or affirm the position of the ADA coordinator in response to the accommodation request. The superintendent shall have fifteen (15) working days from the date of the receipt of the appeal to inform the employee of the decision in writing. After the superintendent's review, the Albuquerque Public Schools shall consider the appeal process concluded.

If the employee chooses to file a complaint for a failure to accommodate or has any complaint regarding the ADA accommodation process or regarding any discrimination or retaliation related to a disability, the employee should contact the Equal Opportunity Services Office to follow that complaint process.

Even after submitting an appeal, a complaint, or finalizing an accommodation plan, an employee may re-initiate the ADA interactive process to address new strategies, information or accommodations at any time.

Administrative Position:                        

  • Chief of Human Resources and Legal Support Services

Department Director:                              

  • Director of Risk Management
  • ADA Coordinator

References:

Legal Ref:                                                      

  • Sections 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 12111-12117)
  • New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMSA 1978 §§ 28-1-1 et seq.)

Board Policy Cross Ref.:                      

Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:             

NSBA/NEPN Classification:                    GBA

Revised:  May 1995
Revised:  February 1996
Revised:  April 1996
Revised:  May 1997
Revised:  May, 2000
Revised:  January 2005
Reviewed: August 19, 2011
Revised: October 21, 2011
Reviewed: December 2, 2014
Reviewed: January 13, 2016
Revised: January 15, 2016
Reviewed: July 7, 2021
Revised: July 14, 2021