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.
Who is defined as a person with a disability under Section 504?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 defines a person with disabilities as any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or bodily functions. This also includes students who have a record of an impairment or are regarded as having an impairment. Examples of some major life activities include but are not limited to learning, hearing, seeing, walking, performing manual tasks, concentration, working, thinking, and breathing. Examples of some major bodily functions include but are not limited to immune system, neurological, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and digestive functions. It is not sufficient for a person to simply have a diagnosis. An evaluation must be conducted to determine the impact of the impairment on the student in the school setting. Evaluations can contain information from doctors, educational records, observations, testing by a school psychologist, and work samples.
How is Section 504 eligibility determined?
An eligibility meeting is held to review the results of the evaluation and determine the impact of the disability on the student in the school setting. Parents are a very important part of the eligibility meeting. If a student is found eligible for Section 504, the committee will determine the needs of the student. If a student's disability limits access to education, a Section 504 Accommodation Plan will be written and the student will receive accommodations in the general education setting.
What services are offered under Section 504?
Section 504 provides accommodations in the general education classroom. Accommodations are provided case by case, based on the student's needs. In order for a student to receive an accommodation, it must be determined that the student needs the accommodation to access education. Typical accommodations include preferential seating, repeating, summarizing, and clarifying directions, providing hard copies of lecture notes, extra time on tasks, verbal and nonverbal redirection, access to the health clinic, bathroom or elevator, and special transportation. The John M. McKay Scholarship is also available for students who qualify for it.
Who do I contact regarding Section 504?
Each school has a Section 504 Designee who can assist parents with questions. This person is typically a school counselor or administrator. Please contact your school to talk to the Section 504 Designee. For additional information, contact Patricia Vickers at 407-870-4959.