Section 504

504 Accommodation Plans

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is federal legislation that impacts schools and other entities that receive federal funding. The Act is a civil rights statute designed to eliminate discrimination against individuals in schools and the workplace because of disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) incorporates all Section 504 provisions, and its protections are guaranteed regardless of federal funding. The regulations are very broadly written and intended to cover a wide range of public entities to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 and ADA prohibit the discrimination of students on the basis of a disability.

Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his or 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.” If a school receives any federal financial assistance, all programs or activities of the school are covered by Section 504. Because the District receives federal financial assistance, it must comply with the requirements of Section 504.

If you feel that your child has been discriminated against, please contact Heather Raithel, or a formal complaint can be filed with the Office for Civil Rights here.

Section 504 Comparison to IDEA

Individuals who are disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) are also protected under Section 504/ADA. While Section 504 provides for services similar to those available through special education, the intent and requirements of the acts are different. IDEA is a mandate to provide special education and related services to students who meet specific eligibility criteria for one or more of 13 categories of disability and need special education and related services.

Section 504, while intended to be consistent with the IDEA, provides broader and different coverage than does the IDEA with a focus on providing equal opportunity to all students through “reasonable accommodations”. The Section 504 definition of an individual with a disability is broader, including any person whose physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, learning, thinking, concentrating and reading. Most if not all children and young adults who receive special education and related services under the IDEA are also considered qualified individuals with disabilities under Section 504. However, all individuals who qualify for 504 services may not qualify for special education under IDEA. It is important to note that Section 504 is not a consolation prize for students who do not meet the eligibility requirements of IDEA.

IDEA identifies as eligible only children and young adults who have specific types of disabilities and who, as a result, need special education and related services in order to access and make progress in the general school curriculum.