Students are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act 2008 (ADAAA). These laws prohibit discrimination against all persons with disabilities, both students and employees, by agencies such as school districts receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 of this law contains requirements including accessibility and employment practices concerning all persons with disabilities. Section 504 outlines eligibility criteria which directly addresses the needs of school districts and outlines appropriate process for providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all students with disabilities at the preschool, elementary and secondary level.
Under Section 504, no qualified student with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any district program, including nonacademic services and extracurricular activities. To qualify under section 504, the student must have a current mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major-life activities that the average student in the general population can perform.
Any person may refer a student for possible eligibility under Section 504, including parent/guardian or staff. If there is reason to suspect a 504 disability, the district will convene a multidisciplinary team to conduct a review of existing data on the student. The multidisciplinary team will be comprised of persons knowledgeable about the student. A parent or guardian may also request a 504 evaluation for a student by notifying the student’s teacher, counselor, nurse, principal or 504 coordinator. Such a request is best made in writing and returned to a building representative.
The district must form a multidisciplinary team to evaluate all students who are suspected to have a disability who thereby need or are believed to need special education or related services before taking any action with respect to the initial placement of the student in regular education or special education and any subsequent significant change of placement. The multidisciplinary team will consider all current/pertinent information when making eligibility determination.
Eligibility is determined through a district evaluation which may include an evaluation from an outside agency (doctor, psychiatrist, etc.). Any evaluation must address the suspected area(s) of functioning including information from a variety of sources and meet the evaluation standards of the district and of Section 504. The multidisciplinary team may develop a Section 504 Accommodation Plan if a student is determined eligible. Eligibility does not necessarily result in accommodations and services. The determination is made on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, an existing plan or program such as an Individual Health Plan or Allergy Plan may be sufficient to address the student’s needs from a qualifying disability.
Section 504 Flyer (waiting on electronic version)