The mission of the Section 504 program is to comply with Title 34 Education Subtitle B, Regulations of the Offices of the Department of Education, Chapter I – Office for Civil Rights Department of Education, Part 104 – Nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance also known as Section 504.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Commonly referred to as "Section 504", this federal statute protects individuals from discrimination based on disability. It is not an educational law, but rather a civil rights act that ensures "No qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which receives federal financial assistance." In the public school setting, it guarantees a "free appropriate public education to each qualified handicapped person who is in the recipient's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person's handicap.”
A physical or mental impairment are impairments such as ADHD, cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, autism, depression, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, auditory or visual impairments, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy. The list is not exhaustive.
Major life activities are things like seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, walking, communicating, and performing manual tasks. Again, the list is not exhaustive.
Substantial limitation is not defined, and the measurement of any impairment is left up to individual Section 504 committees to determine.
To be eligible, one must:
have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
have record of such an impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
What do I do if I suspect my child needs 504 Services?
First and foremost, discuss your concerns with your child’s classroom teacher. He or she may be able to reassure you that your child is making appropriate progress. If you continue to be concerned about your child’s progress, contact your child’s assistant principal in writing, expressing your concerns.
All referrals are processed through the Student Success Team (SST). The SST will meet and may recommend intervention strategies for the classroom teacher to use in order to help your child. Based on the results of these interventions, your child may or may not be referred for a Section 504 referral.
Rights as a Parent
As a parent or legal guardian, you have the right to:
- Receive notice regarding the identification, evaluation, and/or placement of your child;
- Examine relevant records pertaining to your child;
- File a complaint with your school district Section 504 Coordinator;
- Request an impartial hearing with respect to the district’s actions regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of your child;
- File a complaint with the appropriate regional Office for Civil Rights.
Dismissal from Section 504
Students who qualify for Section 504 may eventually no longer qualify and will be dismissed from Section 504. The Office for Civil Right’s FAQ website states, “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”.