Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights/nondiscrimination statute that guarantees all students equal access to their education. Section 504 requires identification, evaluation, provision of appropriate services and procedural safeguards.
Under Section 504, classroom teachers and other general education staff are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations and/or services necessary for eligible students to participate in and benefit from public education.
If a child does not require special education or is not eligible for Special Education services, he or she may be eligible for a 504 Plan. A student is eligible if he or she has a permanent, medically documented physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Physical or mental impairments include physiological disorders, disfigurements, mental or psychological disorders, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities. If the student has one of these handicaps and it impacts major life activities such as learning, the student may qualify for a 504 Plan.
Section 504 prohibits districts from the following (34 CFR Section 104.4):
If a student with a disability requires a special education program to benefit from his/her education, then it is district policy that the student be provided with an IEP after all procedures, including assessment and IEP meeting, have been followed.
What is a Section 504 student? A student with a Section 504 disability has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, AND, has a record of such impairment, OR, is regarded as having such an impairment.
Physical or mental impairment: A physical or mental impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss; or, any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and learning disability. (34 CFR Section 104.3(j)(2)(i)).
Substantial Limitation: A substantial limitation is a limitation that affects a person’s ability to perform an activity in relation to the average person in the general population. The student is not compared to their peer group, but to the average person in the general population. In determining whether a student’s disability substantially limits a major life activity entitling the student to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), districts will usually focus on behavior and learning.
In the 2008 reauthorization, it was clarified that impairments which are episodic or in remission are a disability if they would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
Major Life Activity: Major life activities are activities the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty, such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, standing, lifting, thinking, concentrating, interacting with others, sleeping, bending, reading, thinking, and communication. (42 USC Section 12102(1)(B).
For information regarding 504 Plans, IEPs or Special Education, please contact the site principal or the Director of Special Services, Sarah Kappler, at (510)471-1100 x 62616 or firstname.lastname@example.org