What is Section 504?
Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Section 504 reads, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].”
What does Section 504 Include?
An impairment under Section 504 can include any long-term illness or disability that significantly reduces a student’s ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a given condition. Section 504 states that, “it should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities” (Appendix A to Part 104, #3).
Can My Child Be Referred? And Who can Refer?
The short answer is, yes, any child can be referred for evaluation. However, New York State Law states that “the school district must also have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability.” Accordingly, parent demand alone does not guarantee evaluation. Essentially anyone can refer a student for evaluation but the school district must suspect services are needed before granting an evaluation.
What does placement or reevaluation look like under 504?
It’s important to note that program changes and accommodations can take place under Section 504, but the school district must first inform the parent/guardian before their child is placed or evaluated. That said, students can be given a wide array of accommodations, in and out of the classroom, to fit their individual needs. A Section 504 student will always be in the regular classroom unless the disability prevents that placement. A child under Section 504 must be reevaluated every three years or before significant program changes.
Section 504: Parent/Student Rights
Parent/Student Rights under Section 504