What is Section 504?
“Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to any entity that receives federal funding. Public school districts and independent schools that directly or indirectly receive federal funds must comply with Section 504 both as providers of education to children and as employers”.
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…..shall, solely by reason of his/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” (Rehabilitation Act of 1973).
An individual with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. The individual will have a record of such an impairment and/or is regarded as having such an impairment. The term “major life activity” includes functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, thinking and working.
When determining if the student’s disability substantially limits learning, the student’s ability will be compared to that of other students of the same age or grade (nationally). A student with a disability who is being successful in the general curriculum and classroom would not be considered substantially limited in the major life activity of learning. A student who is impaired but succeeding does not need a 504 plan.
The educational team will complete an eligibility checklist to determine if a student requires a 504 plan. The checklist will guide the team in determining whether the child’s learning, or other major life activity is substantially limited. If the child meets the criteria, a 504 plan will be developed. At this point, the educational team will look at necessary accommodations to help the child access the curriculum or facility. The 504 plan will be updated periodically.
If you believe that you or your child has a disability, and that it is substantially limiting a major life activity, as a result of which access to school programs is denied or limited, you should contact your building principal.