Section 504 Information
Section 504 is a federal law and part of the American with Disabilities Act designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States 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”.
The school district must provide a free appropriate public education to district students who are eligible under Section 504. Instruction must be individually designed to meet the needs of those students as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities. An appropriate education under Section 504 requires that the services be effective and fair.
Although Section 504 does not require schools to develop an Individualized Education Program with annual goals, the school does provide written documentation for each student identified and provide accommodations and/or services under Section 504. If school staff suspects a need for accommodations, a referral should be made, evaluations conducted, and possible identification determined by a team knowledgeable about the student. If the student is identified, the team might develop a Section 504 Plan.
Section 504 is not a special education plan. The school staff and parents should collaborate to help ensure that students are provided accommodations through general education.
Basic steps involved in obtaining 504 Plan:
- Referral: A teacher, support staff, a parent, or a medical professional may refer the student for consideration, usually by calling the school and speaking to Case Manager and/or Social Worker of a school team that considers such matters.
- Meeting to discuss the referral; perhaps a 504 Plan will emerge from that meeting, or perhaps more than one meeting will be required as the team involved gathers information.
- Meeting to review the effectiveness of the 504 Plan at some later date.