Guide to Section 504
Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
As defined by federal law: “An individual with a disability means any person who: has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment”.
An impairment as used in Section 504 may include any disability, long-term illness. Or various disorder that ‘Substantially” reduces or lessens a student’s ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a learning, behavior or health-related condition.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, reading, concentrating, interacting with others and working.
Substantially limits is not defined in the federal regulations. However, in a letter from the Office for Civil Rights, they state, “this is a determination to be made by each local school district and depends on the nature and severity of the person’s disabling condition.” In considering substantial limitations, students must be measured against their same age, non-disabled peers in the general population and without benefit of medication or other mitigation measures such as learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications, assistive technology or accommodations.
Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504. However, while anyone can make a referral, the school district must also have a reason to believe that the child is in need of services. Therefore, a school district does not have to refer or evaluate a child solely upon parental demand. The key to a referral is whether the school district staff suspects that the child is suffering from a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and is need of regular education with supplementary services.
Placement decisions into 504 are made by a group of persons who are knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, placement options, least restrictive environment requirements, and comparable facilities. The federal regulations for Section 504 do not require or even mention that parents are to part of the decision-making committee. At Bloomington ISD, we do invite the parent to be in the decision-making committee.
Each child’s needs are determined individually. Determination of what is appropriate for each child is based on the nature of the disabling condition and what the child needs to have equal opportunity to compete when compared to non-disabled. There is no guarantee of A’s and B’s or even that the student will not fail. The ultimate goal of education for all students, with or without disabilities, is to give students the knowledge and compensation skills they will need to be able to function in life after graduation.
Some of the Accommodations that may be used, but are not limited to:
Extended time on tests or assignments
Peer assistance with note taking
Small/individual groups for testing
Use of an overlay
Behavioral intervention plans
Students who are being served under Section 504 must be re-evaluated every 3 years. The accommodation plan can be updated yearly without a formal meeting, unless the child has a significant change in placement.
As a parent you have the right to:
Director of Special Programs