Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

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What is Section 504?
  • Section 504 is a federal civil rights law that is designed to eliminate disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Since all public school districts receive federal funds, all public school districts must comply with Section 504. Under Section 504, denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education constitutes disability discrimination.
 
Who is a Disabled Student Under Section 504 for Purposes of FAPE?

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.

504
IDEA

A child who is disabled under 504 has a documented disability which substantially limits one or more major life activities and requires accommodations to access his/her education.

A student qualifies as disabled under IDEA if they have a documented disability, the disability interferes with their ability to learn, and requires specially designed instruction
Accommodations for students whose disabilities interfere with their ability to access their education generally do not change the norms or standards of the general education curriculum or performance standards.

Students who qualify under IDEA may require accommodations, as well as modified curriculum, instruction, materials and assessments, which align with, but may be different from performance standards of the general education curriculum.

Once qualified, a 504 plan is developed by a team of individuals who know the student, including someone knowledgeable about evaluation data and placement options, and may include parents. The team develops an accommodation plan which is reviewed periodically.Once qualified, an IEP is developed which includes general and special education staff, an individual knowledgeable about placement options, and provision of district resources, and the parents. It is reviewed annually.
 
The Bottom Line
Once a district has determined that a student is disabled under Section 504, the district must provide whatever services it decides the student needs to participate in and benefit from the districts education program. As a general rule, a district is under no obligation to provide a service that a students parent or guardian or doctor requests unless, in the districts determination, the student needs the service.

 
For more information on Section 504 and Special Education, visit the Office of Civil Rights.