What is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a Federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination/ harassment on the basis of a disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
Section 504 protects students with a mental or physical disability from discrimination/harassment. Students are also protected from discrimination /harassment under the law if they have a record of a disability or are regarded as having a disability but in fact are not currently disabled.
IDENTIFICATION OF STUDENTS ELIGIBLE UNDER SECTION 504
Each district is required to have a plan to identify students that may have a disability and qualify for Section 504. The parents may, and should be encouraged to, inform the school district when their child has a disability. In many cases, a student’s disability will be disclosed in the student’s health history or a parent may present a doctor’s letter listing a medical diagnosis and perhaps what accommodations are needed. A school district should consider the doctor’s recommendations along with other information collected as part of a complete evaluation. While it is the doctor’s responsibility to diagnose and treat medical conditions, it is the school district’s responsibility to evaluate the student’s needs using multiple sources to determine if the student is eligible and to develop and implement any necessary accommodations or services for the student.