What is the difference between Section 504 and Special Education?

There are a number of differences between Section 504 and Special Education.  The bullets below may assist in articulating the differences.

  • Section 504
    • Students are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act 2008 (ADAAA); however, there is no federal financial assistance.
    • Section 504 affords supports to children with a physical or mental impairment that demonstrate a substantial limitation in a major-life activity.
    • This law prohibits discrimination based upon a disability.
    • Individual accommodation plans are designed to level the playing field to ensure equal opportunity for all students. Section 504 teams must be thoughtful about designing individually-tailored accomidations while not inadvertently creating an advantage over non-disabled peers.
  • Special Education
    • Students are protected under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act 2008 (ADAAA), limited federal funding is provided
    • Special education is heavily regulated and students must meet Missouri state criteria to be eligible.
    • Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed based upon the need for uniquely tailored specialized instruction, accommodations, and modifications. ┬áSpecial education is considered to be more intensive and restrictive than supports under Section 504.

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