Section 504 Students with Disabilities
What is a Section 504 Plan?
This plan falls under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is part of the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against public school students with disabilities. That includes students with learning and attention issues who meet certain criteria. Much like an IEP, a 504 plan can help students with learning and attention issues learn and participate in the general education curriculum. A 504 plan outlines how a child's specific needs are met with accommodations, and other services. These measures "remove barriers" from learning. A student with a 504 plan typically spends the entire school day in a general education classroom.
Who Qualifies for a 504 Plan?
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as someone who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that "substantially" limits one or more major life activity.
- Has a record of the impairment.
- Is regarded as having an impairment, or a significant difficulty that isn't temporary.
Having a disability doesn't automatically make a student eligible for a 504 plan. First the school has to do an evaluation to decide if a child's disability "substantially" limits his ability to learn and participate in the general education classroom. This plan can either be initiated by the parent or the school. If the school initiates the evaluation, it must notify the parents and get the parents' consent to evaluate a child for a 504 plan. If the school wants to move ahead without the parents' consent, it must request a due process hearing to get permission to work around the parents' refusal.
When doing an evaluation for a 504 plan, the school considers information from several sources, including:
- Documentation of the child's disability (such as a doctor's diagnosis)
- Evaluation results (if the school recently evaluated the child for an IEP)
- Observations by the student's parents and teachers
- Academic record
- Independent evaluations (if available)
Section 504 requires evaluation procedures that prevent students from being misclassified, incorrectly labeled as having a disability or incorrectly placed.
For more about the 504 process, please check with your school Administrator or Counselor.