Section 504

  • What is Section 504?

    Section 504 is a federal civil rights act whose purpose is to prevent discrimination in schools by providing equitable access to the educational environment for students with an identified disability.

    When does a student qualify as having a disability under Section 504?

    A student qualifies as a student with a disability under Section 504 if his/her/their 504 team determines that he/she/they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

    What is a major life activity?

    Major life activities include, but are not limited to: Breathing, Seeing, Hearing, Speaking, Reading, Thinking, Communicating, Concentrating, and Functions of bodily systems (endocrine, neurological, respiratory, digestive, etc.)

    What is a Section 504 Accommodation Plan?

    A Section 504 Accommodation Plan (or a "504 plan") describes the student's disability and how it impacts them in the educational environment. The plan lists the necessary accommodations the student requires in order to equitably access their education.

    What is the process for determining whether a student qualifies for a 504 plan?

    There are several steps to determining whether a student is eligible for a 504 plan.

    1. The student is referred for Section 504 evaluation by a teacher, school staff member, parent/guardian, or other concerned party.
    2. A 504 Team meets to review relevant data and determine whether the student has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
    3. If necessary, a 504 plan is developed. 
      ***In some cases, a student may qualify for Section 504 AND not require a 504 plan.***
    4. Dates are established for an annual review of the 504 plan AND a triennial re-eligibility meeting.

    Who is involved in the Section 504 process?

    Section 504 uses a team approach in eligibility decisions and plan development. Usually, people invited to participate include the student, the parent/legal guardian, teachers, a building administrator, a 504 team lead, and necessary additional staff (i.e. nurse, counselor, psychologist, speech pathologist, physical therapist, etc.) The District 504 Coordinator may also be in attendance at any 504 proceedings.

    What is the difference between Section 504 and IDEA?

    Section 504 is a civil rights law, and IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, commonly referred to as Special Education) is an educational benefit law.  Section 504 is designed to level the playing field for individuals with disabilities.  Its purpose is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same access to education that individuals without disabilities have. It does this by eliminating barriers that exclude individuals with disabilities from participating in free, appropriate public education. As an educational benefit law, IDEA offers additional services and protections for those with disabilities that are not offered to those without disabilities.