“Section 504” is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This federal law has the purpose of prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons who may participate in, or receive benefits from, programs receiving federal financial assistance. In the public schools specifically 504 applies to ensure that eligible disabled students are provided with educational benefits and opportunities equal to those provided to non-disabled students.
Under 504 a student is considered disabled if he or she suffers from a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities, such as learning, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, working, and performing manual tasks. Section 504 also applies to students with a record of having a substantially-limiting impairment, or who are regarded as disabled even if they are truly not disabled. Students can be considered disabled, and receive services under 504, even if they do not qualify for, or receive, special education services.
Referrals may be made by classroom teachers, parents, or others who may have knowledge about the student’s disabilities. Consent for evaluation must be given by a parent or guardian before any data can be gathered.
The 504 Committee will gather data and direct completion from a variety of sources.
If the 504 committee determines that the child meets the criteria, then the student will be identified as 504. All services are part of a free and appropriate education. The 504 committee will meet annually to reevaluate the student’s progress. Should the committee determine the student is no longer eligible, then the student will be dismissed and the parents will receive notice of the results.