Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a handicap in the United States shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal assistance.”
The purpose of Section 504 is to “level the playing field” to eliminate impediments to full participation by persons with disabilities. In legal terms, the statue was intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination against persons with disabilities, persons who are believed to have disabilities, and persons with a record or history of disabilities. In addition, it provides for protection from discrimination for family members of persons with disabilities.
To fall under the protection of Section 504, a person must have physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; have a record of such an impairment; or be regarded as having such an impairment.
It is important to remember the three conditions that lead to eligibility for protection under Section 504:
- The presence of a physical or mental impairment…
- which substantially limits…
- one or more major life activities.
It should be noted that none of these three components has been defined in the law.
A referral for evaluation may be made by any individual that reasonably suspects that a child may have a mental or physical impairment by contacting the counselor at the child’s school.
Two Part Evaluation
Disability Determination: Does the student have a disability under Section 504?
Based upon all of the relevant, evaluative data drawn from a variety of sources, does this student have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?
Service Plan/Placement Determination: Does the student need accommodations/plan to access their education the same as nondisabled peers?
Based upon all of the relevant evaluative data drawn from a variety of sources, does this student with a disability need special services in order that his/her educational needs are met as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met?
- Educational needs are considered academic, social, emotional, physical or behavioral needs.
- Necessary accommodations are determined by the team based on evaluative data from a variety of sources.
- Any member of the 504 team can request a review of the 504 plan by the team at any time.
For more information, please contact the assistant principal assigned to your child or the District Coordinator for Section 504: Dr. Sandy Ritchey, email@example.com.