Federal Programs » Section 504

Section 504

SECTION 504
 
Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met. Section 504 states that: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his 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...." [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].
 
Who is an "individual with a disability"?
As defined by federal law under Section 504:
"An individual with a disability means any person who:
 
  • has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity;
  • has a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment" [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].
 
What is an "impairment" as used under the Section 504 definition?
An impairment as used in Section 504 may include any disability, long-term illness, or various disorder that "substantially" reduces or lessens a student's ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a learning-, behavior-, or health-related condition. ["It should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities" (Appendix A to Part 104, #3)].
 
What are "major life activities"?
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others, and working. In September 2008, Congress expanded the list of major life activities to also include, but not limited to, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. This non-comprehensive list includes individuals with AD/HD, dyslexia, cancer, diabetes, severe allergies, chronic asthma, Tourette's Syndrome, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disorders, depression, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, HIV/AIDS, behavior disorders, temporary disabilities (e.g., broken writing arm, broken leg, etc.).
 
What does "substantially limits" mean?
"Substantially limits" is not defined in the federal regulations, however, the determination is made by each committee and depends on the nature and severity of the person's disabling condition."
 
How is eligibility determined under Section 504?
To determine eligibility under Section 504 the committee must consider all the following questions:
 
  • Does the learner have a physical or mental impairment?
  • Does the physical or mental impairment affect one or more major life activities including major bodily functions?
  • Does the physical or mental impairment substantially limit a major life activity? It is important to specifically identify what the substantial limitations are and how they impact learner performance and progress.
  • Does the student require Section 504 services in order for his/her educational needs to be met as adequately as those of non-disabled peers?
 
Who can refer a child for consideration for evaluation under Section 504?
Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504. However, while anyone can make a referral, such as parents, teachers or a doctor, OCR states the school district must also have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability.
 
Therefore, a school district does not have to refer or evaluate a child under Section 504 solely upon parental demand. The key to referral is whether the school district staff suspects that the child is suffering from a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and is in need of either regular education with supplementary services or special education and related services. If a parent requests a referral for evaluation, and the campus determines they lack evidence to support a referral for a 504 Evaluation, ACISD will provide parents with notice of their procedural rights under Section 504.
 
Who decides whether a student is qualified and eligible for services under Section 504?
According to the federal regulations:
"...placement decisions are to be made by a group of persons who are knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, placement options, least restrictive environment requirements, and comparable facilities" [34 C.F.R. §104.35(c)(3)].
 
What information is used in a Section 504 Evaluation?
Under Section 504, no formalized testing is required. The 504 Committee should look at grades over the past several years, teacher's reports, information from parents or other agencies, state assessment scores or other school administered tests, observations, discipline reports, attendance records, health records, and adaptive behavior information. Schools must consider a variety of sources. A single source of information (such as a doctor's report) cannot be the only information considered.
 
Can my child be placed under Section 504 without my knowledge?
No. Parents should always be given notice in writing before their child is evaluated and/or placed under Section 504. (34 C.F.R. §104.36). Parents must also be given a copy of their child's Section 504 accommodation plan if the committee determines that the child is eligible under Section 504.
 
What types of accommodations will my child receive if determined eligible under Section 504?
Each child's needs are determined individually. Determination of what is appropriate for each child is based on the nature of the disabling condition and what that child needs in order to have an equal opportunity to compete when compared to the non-disabled. The ultimate goal of education for all students, with or without disabilities, is to give students the knowledge and compensating skills they will need to be able to function in life after graduation.
 
Can my child still be disciplined under Section 504?
Yes. Children under Section 504 are still expected to follow the district's student code of conduct. However, when disciplining a child under Section 504, schools must consider the relationship between the disability and the misbehavior if the child is going to be removed from the regular setting for longer than 10 days. This does not mean that a student with a disability cannot be sent to a discipline center or that they cannot go to in-school suspension, or be suspended from school for three days. Very strict guidelines exist for schools in discipline issues with students who have a disability under Section 504. Your District 504 Coordinator can assist you in this area should you have additional questions concerning the discipline of students with disabilities. Children having disabilities with behavioral components should have individual discipline plans as well as behavior intervention plans.
 
If I disagree with the school's evaluation, will the school district pay for an outside independent evaluation?
Under Section 504, schools are not required to pay for an outside independent evaluation. If a parent disagrees with the school's evaluation decision, they may submit a written request to have the 504 Committee decision reviewed by the District 504 Coordinator, request a due process hearing or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. (See Notice of Parent and Student Rights Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.)
 
How often will my child be re-evaluated?
While there are no specific time lines on this issue, students must be re-evaluated at least every three years or whenever there is going to be a "significant change in placement".
 
Will my child still be able to participate in non-academic services?
 
Yes. ACISD must provide equal opportunity in areas such as counseling, physical education and/or athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, and special interest groups or clubs. However, the "no pass, no play" standard used for students in Texas also applies to students under Section 504 (34 C.F.R. §104.37).

Nondiscrimination Statement
It is the policy of Aransas County ISD not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or handicap in its programs, services or activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
 
(Amendments of 1972; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.)
 
Es norma de Aransas Co. ISD no discriminar por motivos de raza, color, origen national, sexo o impedimento, en sus programas, servicios o activades, tal como lo requieren el Título VI de la Ley de Deprechos Civiles de 1964, según enmienda; el Título IX de las Emmiendas en la Educación, de 1972, y la Sección 504 de la Ley de Rehabilitación de 1973, según enmienda.
 
 
Parent Rights
Program Contact: Alicia Luttman, Director of Student Services