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Section 504

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC 794, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (hereinafter "Section 504"), is Congress' directive to schools receiving any Federal funding to eliminate discrimination based on disability from all aspects of their school operations. It states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Since the School District is a recipient of Federal dollars, its administrators and staff are required to provide eligible disabled students with equal access (both physical and academic) to services, programs, and activities offered by its schools. Section 504 is a civil rights statute and not a special education statute.

How can I refer my child to determine 504 Eligibility?

If you suspect that your child is "disabled" under Section 504/ADA, contact your child's teacher, school counselor, or building principal. You will be asked to complete a referral form and grant consent for a 504 evaluation. After the evaluation is complete, a meeting will be scheduled to determine if your child has a "disability." You have the right to meaningfully participate in the process and provide input, even if you cannot attend the meeting in person. Does Section 504 differ from the ADA? Section 504 protects students from discrimination on the basis of disability to the same extent as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This manual uses only the term “Section 504,” but the School acknowledges that qualified students with disabilities have the same rights under the ADA as under Section 504.

What criteria are used to determine 504 eligibility?

A student qualifies for Section 504 protection if s/he is determined to be an individual with a disability as defined by the statute. Specifically, the student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or have a record of such an impairment, or be regarded as having such an impairment. Only those students with an actual impairment, however, are entitled to accommodations/modifications/interventions pursuant to Section 504. Those students with a record of an impairment or who are regarded as having an impairment are entitled to protection from discrimination based upon disability. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, functions such as (a) caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, learning, and (b) the operation of major bodily functions including the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

How does Section 504 differ from IDEA?

A student who qualifies for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 USC 1400, is a qualified disabled student under Section 504. The converse, however, is not true: a qualified disabled student under Section 504 is not necessarily eligible for services under the IDEA. In other words, some disabled students may qualify for accommodations under Section 504 that do not qualify for special education services under IDEA. If a student is determined eligible under Section 504, they are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which typically is provided by a 504 accommodation plan. Any necessary accommodations/modifications/interventions must be delineated in a Section 504 Plan. Any questions regarding IDEA should be directed to the Special Education Department.