Section 504 Information for Parents and Educators
What is Section 504?
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law specifically prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and guarantees a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Section 504 ensures that students with disabilities receive the same opportunity to benefit from special programs, services, and activities as their non-disabled peers.
How does Section 504 define “disability?”
Section 504 regulation defines a disabled individual as a person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such impairment. The definition does not set forth a list of specific conditions.
The key factor is whether the physical or mental impairment results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Major life activities include but are not limited to functions such as learning, walking, seeing, caring for oneself, breathing, talking, and concentrating.
Does a medical diagnosis mean automatic 504 eligibility?
No. A physician’s medical diagnosis may be considered among other sources in evaluating a student with an impairment or believed to have an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Section 504 regulations require school districts to draw upon a variety of sources in interpreting evaluation data and making placement decisions.
Can a student have Protections Only (without accommodations) Under Section 504?
Yes. Individuals who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment when in fact such an impairment may or may not actually exist are protected from discrimination under Section 504. These Protections include:
- Manifestation Determination
- Procedural Safeguards
- Periodic Reevaluation (as needed)
- Nondiscrimination Protections of Section 504
What is the difference between Section 504 and IDEA?
Section 504 requires reasonable accommodations to ensure nondiscrimination against students with disabilities. IDEA requires affirmative action in providing special education and related services. IDEA compliance involves special education, while Section 504 is a regular education initiative.
Does Section 504 require evaluations?
If there is a reason to believe that because of a qualifying disability, a student needs accommodation, the school district must evaluate the student and develop and implement an accommodation plan. The Section 504 Committee shall consider all relevant information on the student to determine whether or not he/she is disabled under Section 504. Relevant information could include school records, medical records, interviews, classwork, observations, screenings, and rating scales.
What does “reasonable accommodation” mean?
Schools shall make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified student, which would enable the student to participate successfully in the regular school program. The decision regarding accommodations must be based upon information drawn from a variety of sources and is made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student and the suspected disability. Courts have required accommodations, which achieve “meaningful equal opportunity.” Accommodations need to take into consideration both the functional limitations of the individual and the alternative methods of performing tasks or activities. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include preferential seating, a behavior intervention plan, or the monitoring of medication.
What do you do if you believe your child has a disability under Section 504?
- Inform your child’s teacher
- Discuss your concerns with the school counselor, school nurse, school psychologist, or administrator at your child’s school
- Request further information about Section 504 from the school counselor or from the 504 contact
- District Implementation Guide for Section 504
- A Parent Teacher Guide to Section 504: Frequently Asked Questions
- Section 504 Brochure
Additional Resources / Information on this page is cited from:
Section 504 Procedural Safeguards
District Section 504 Coordinator
Dr. Patricia Fontan
321-633-1000 Ext. 11505
District Section 504 Contact
321-633-1000 Ext. 11558