Section 504


What is Section 504?

Section 504 is a federal civil rights law that is designed to eliminate disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Since all public school districts receive federal funds, all public school districts must comply with Section 504. Under Section 504, denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education constitutes disability discrimination.

Who is a Disabled Student Under Section 504?

A school-aged student is a disabled student under Section 504 if the student:

Has a physical or mental impairment

Physical or mental impairment means any physiological or psychological disorder or condition. The definition of physical or mental impairment under Section 504 is broad, includes students with life threatening health conditions (conditions that will put a student in danger of death during the school day if a medication or treatment order and a nursing plan are not in place), and is not limited to any specific diseases or categories of medical conditions.

• That substantially limits

Substantially limits means significantly restricts as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a student can perform a major life activity as compared to how a non-disabled age/grade peer can perform the same activity. As a general rule, a student with a physical or mental impairment who is able to participate in and benefit from a district’s education program (e.g., attend school, achieve passing grades, advance from grade to grade, and meet age/grade appropriate standards of personal independence and social responsibility) without the provision of special education or related aids or services, is not a disabled student under Section 504.

One or more major life activities

Major life activities include but are not limited to the following: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, attending school, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, and behavior.

What Is The Difference Between Section 504 Accommodations and Special Education?

In both Section 504 Plans and in Special Education, students qualify if they have been diagnosed with a recognized disability AND the disability substantially limits their ability to perform a major life function such as learning, walking, seeing, hearing, etc. However, in order to receive Special Education services, it must be determined that the severity of the impact of the disability requires Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) in the area of the deficit. Both Section 504 Plans and Individual Education Plans provide students with Accommodations. Only Special Education Individual Education Plans provide students with individualized goals and instruction.



Procedural Safeguards

Autism Speaks: What is Autism?

Council for Exceptional Children:

Children and Adults with ADD/ADHD:

Developmental Guidelines: American Academy of Pediatrics Ages and Stages:

National Center for Learning Disabilities:

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY):

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