What is 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal civil rights statute which protects the rights of persons with disabilities. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against disabled persons, including both students and staff members by school districts receiving federal financial assistance. Included in the U.S. Department of Education regulations for Section 504 is the requirement that disabled students be provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). These regulations require identification, evaluation, the provision of appropriate services, and procedural safeguards.
Who is eligible for services?
An eligible student is a student who:
- has a record of having or
- is regarded as having, a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity such as learning.
Who is considered to have a disability?
A person is considered to have a disability under Section 504 if he/she meets one or more of the following criteria:
- has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. The term does not cover children disadvantaged by cultural, environmental or economic factors
- has a record or history of such an impairment
- is regarded as having such an impairment
- has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit a major life activity but is treated by the district as having such a limitation;
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity only as a result of the attitudes of others towards such impairment, or;
- has no physical or mental impairment but is treated by the district as having such an impairment.
What are “major life activities” for purposes of coverage of students under Section 504?
Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself and performing manual tasks. The disability must substantially limit learning activities for the student to be eligible for 504 educational services (34 CFR § 104.3(1)). This activity need not be related to learning to come under the protection of Section 504. The determination of whether an impairment is “substantially limiting” must be made on a case-by-case basis by the Section 504 Review Committee. The nature, severity, duration, and permanence of the impairment should be taken into consideration.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that schools provide access to a “free, appropriate public education” (FAPE) for students with a physical or mental limitation which substantially limits learning or other major life activities. Schools may meet this requirement by meeting with school administrators, teachers and parents to consider appropriate programming for any student experiencing substantial difficulty in their learning which results from a physical or mental limitation.
Substantial Limitation in Learning:
A substantial limitation in learning must be demonstrated by an educational need, such as a serious deficit and/or serious behavior problem resulting from the student’s disability and not from other causes.
Major Life Activity:
Functions such as learning, self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, working, and performing manual tasks.
Determined on a case-by-case basis, based on evaluative data. ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, diabetes, and cancer are all examples of limitations or impairments that may fall in this category. A child who has no learning or behavior problems but who needs insulin shots, asthma treatments or other similar procedures administered at school in order to be able to attend school would presumably be considered to have an educational need under 504, as would a mobility-impaired child who needs a wheelchair ramp. Students needing medication (Ritalin, antidepressants, etc.) are also included.
Physical or Mental Impairment:
- Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine.
- Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
Free, Appropriate Education (FAPE)
The provision of regular or special education and related aids or services designed to meet individual educational needs. The education must be provided without cost, except for fees that are also paid by non-handicapped students.
Where to find the Section 504 Federal Guidelines:
U.S. Department of Education
Notice of Parent Student Rights
Notice of Parent and Student Rights
Under Section 504 The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Legacy the School of Sport Sciences does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or disability in admission, access, treatment or employment in its programs services and activities. Applicants, students, parents/guardians, employees, referral agencies and all organizations holding agreements with the District are hereby notified of this policy. This notice summarizes the procedural protections and rights of students who may have a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section504”) and their parents. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability including requiring that school districts implement procedures and take steps to ensure that a student with a disability under Section 504 receives an equal educational opportunity. Any person with concerns regarding the District’s compliance with the regulations implementing Section 504 with respect to students is directed to contact:
Director of Student Services
2727 Spring Creek Drive
Spring, TX 77373
INTRODUCTION. Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the school district may not discriminate against students with disabilities. Accordingly, the district has adopted policies and procedures to ensure that discrimination does not take place. In the rest of this document, we will refer to these laws as “Section 504.”
IDEA ELIGIBILITY. Many students who meet the definition of an “individual with a disability” under Section 504 also qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This document does not address these students or their parents. Such students are served pursuant to the requirements of the IDEA. The rights of parents of these students are spelled out in the Notice of Procedural Safeguards document promulgated by the Texas Education Agency. The rest of this document addresses only the rights of parents of students who satisfy the definition of an individual with a disability under Section 504 but are not covered under IDEA.
AN APPROPRIATE EDUCATION. If it is determined that your child meets the definition of an individual with a disability under Section 504, then your child will be entitled to a free and appropriate public education. This means that your child’s education will be designed to meet his/her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. A “free” public education means that no fees will be imposed on you except for the same fees that are imposed on parents of non-disabled students. However, insurance companies and other third parties that are obligated to provide or pay for services to your child are still obligated to do so.
NOTICE. You have the right to be notified by the district prior to any action that would identify your child as having a disability, evaluate your child under Section 504, or place your child in a program based on a disability.
EVALUATION. Prior to conducting an evaluation of your child under Section 504, the district will seek your informed written consent. An evaluation will not be conducted unless you give consent. However, school officials may review existing records, test scores, grades, teacher reports and recommendations, and other such information without your consent to the same extent they would do so for nondisabled students.
If an evaluation is conducted, the school will make sure that:
- all testing and other evaluation procedures are validated for the specific purpose for which they are used;
- that they are administered by trained personnel in conformity with the instructions provided by the producer;
- that they include tests and other evaluation materials designed to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those designed to elicit a general IQ score;
- that tests are selected and administered to best ensure that they accurately measure what the test seeks to measure, rather than any sensory, speaking or manual impairments the student may have (except when the test is designed to measure sensory, speaking or manual skills)
An evaluation that satisfies these requirements will be conducted prior to your child’s initial placement and conducted or reviewed prior to any subsequent significant change in placement.
If your child is identified as an individual with a disability under Section 504 the school will periodically reevaluate your child as appropriate.
PLACEMENT. If your child is identified as an individual with a disability under Section 504, placement decisions about your child will be made by the school’s 504 Committee, which will include at least three professional staff members who, collectively, are knowledgeable about your child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options. You will be invited to participate in any meeting of the 504 Committee if your child’s Section 504 Plan, including accommodations and/ or placement, is to be discussed. The 504 Committee will also ensure that your child is placed in the “least restrictive environment.”
LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT. If your child is identified as an individual with a disability under Section 504, your child will be placed and served in the “least restrictive environment.” This means that your child will be served with nondisabled students in the regular education environment to the maximum extent appropriate. Prior to removing your child from the regular education environment due to his/her disability, the school will consider the use of supplementary aids and services (i.e., accommodations). Your child will be removed from the regular education environment only if he/she cannot be served satisfactorily in that environment even when supplementary aids and services are provided.
If it becomes necessary to serve your child in an alternate setting due to disability, the school will take into account the proximity of the alternate setting to your home.
EXAMINATION OF RECORDS. You have the right to see and examine any educational records that pertain to your child or are relevant in serving your child. This right is spelled out in detail in School Board Policies FL and FL Local.
HEARINGS. If you disagree with a decision of the 504 Committee regarding the identification, evaluation or educational placement of your child you have the right to an impartial hearing pursuant to Policy FB Local. You have the right to participate in such a hearing and to be represented by a person of your choice, including an attorney.
If you wish to request a hearing, you must make a written request for a hearing, unless you are not able to write. If you are not able to write, your request for a hearing may be made in your primary mode of communication. Your request for a hearing must be filed with the district’s Section 504 Superintendent, or his designee.
Upon receipt of a timely request for a hearing, the district will notify you of the date, time and location of the hearing. If you disagree with the decision of the hearing officer, you have the right to a review procedure.
OTHER COMPLAINTS. You also have the right to file a complaint with the district’s Section 504 Coordinator pertaining to harassment, retaliation or discrimination against your child in ways that do not involve your child’s identification, evaluation or educational placement. Any such complaint must be filed in accordance with the Policy FFH Local.
OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS. You also have the right to file a complaint with the United States Office for Civil Rights. The address of the Regional Office with jurisdiction in Texas is:
Office for Civil Rights
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, Texas 75201