Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973/Public law 93-112 is a comprehensive law that addresses the rights of handicapped students in each school, eliminating barriers to educational programs.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive Federal funds. The law requires all public and charter Schools to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to qualified individuals. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) oversees the compliance for Section 504. The law ensures that students with a disability have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students. Section 504 regulations require school districts to provide appropriate education to students with disabilities under Section 504.
Eligibility for Section 504 begins at the school level. Each school has a individual designated to coordinate Section 504.
For more information or questions regarding eligibility and services please contact the 504 Chair at your local school or view the resources below to determine who that person is.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 504?
Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance.
To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
(1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
(2) have a record of such an impairment; or
(3) be regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
What is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?
Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is that student always entitled to such services?
Yes, as long as the student remains eligible. The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the regulatory definition of a person with a disability. If a recipient school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.
Must a school district develop a Section 504 plan for a student who either "has a record of disability" or is "regarded as disabled?
What is the receiving school district's responsibility under Section 504 toward a student with a Section 504 plan who transfers from another district?
If a student with a disability transfers to our district from another school district with a Section 504 plan, we will review the plan and supporting documentation. If a group of persons at the receiving school district, including persons knowledgeable about the meaning of the evaluation data and knowledgeable about the placement options determines that the plan is appropriate, the district is required to implement the plan. If the district determines that the plan is inappropriate, the district is to evaluate the student consistent with the Section 504 procedures at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determine which educational program is appropriate for the student.
Can a medical diagnosis suffice as an evaluation for the purpose of providing FAPE?
No. A physician's medical diagnosis may be considered among other sources in evaluating a student with an impairment or believed to have an impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. Other sources to be considered, along with the medical diagnosis, include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior. The Section 504 regulations require school districts to draw upon a variety of sources in interpreting evaluation data and making placement decisions.
Are there any impairments which automatically mean that a student has a disability under Section 504?
No. An impairment in and of itself is not a disability. The impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities in order to be considered a disability under Section 504.
Does a medical diagnosis of an illness automatically mean a student can receive services under Section 504?
No. A medical diagnosis of an illness does not automatically mean a student can receive services under Section 504. The illness must cause a substantial limitation on the student's ability to learn or another major life activity. For example, a student who has a physical or mental impairment would not be considered a student in need of services under Section 504 if the impairment does not in any way limit the student's ability to learn or other major life activity, or only results in some minor limitation in that regard.
May school districts consider "mitigating measures" used by a student in determining whether the student has a disability under Section 504?
Does the nature of services to which a student is entitled under Section 504 differ by educational level?