What is Section 504?

Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of that of non-disabled students.

Section 504 states that: “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.

Who do I contact regarding 504 accommodations?

The primary contact at the school is the 504 coordinator. However, meetings may be requested through administration, teachers, or counselors.

If I want my child to have extra time on the SAT or accommodations for college, can the team meet to give them accommodations in advance?

No. The school 504 team can only make determinations related to eligibility and 504 plans in the current educational setting.

What does a 504 plan include?

504 plans include the following: Basic student information, student strengths and weaknesses, a statement regarding the impact of the student’s disability on successful participation in the school setting, necessary accommodations, and individuals responsible for implementing those accommodations.

What students are eligible for accommodations under Section 504?

A student is eligible if he or she has a physical, mental, or emotional impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities”. Major life activities can include: breathing, seeing, learning, hearing, speaking, working, caring for oneself, or performing manual tasks. Eligibility decisions are based upon the extent to which an impairment adversely impacts successful participation in a school setting.

How is 504 eligibility determined?

A school-based team meets to consider relevant information such as medical history, grades, school records, teacher information, parent information, and standardized test scores. The team may include the nurse, counselor, previous teachers, current teachers, speech therapists, administrators, school psychologist, and parents and/or guardians. Representatives from outside agencies may also attend the meeting when invited by the parents. The 504 coordinator will be present during all team meetings.

Who can request 504 eligibility meetings?

School personnel or parents may request eligibility meetings. The 504 coordinator at the school is responsible for scheduling the meeting(s) with all required participants.

What documentation can parents provide that will assist the team?

Parents are encouraged to bring any relevant medical documentation that supports the existence of a disability and its impact on a major life activity.

Are students automatically eligible for 504 accommodations based on assessment by a private provider/outside agency?

No. A medical diagnosis and/or private testing do not automatically qualify students for 504 accommodations. Eligibility is determined by the team, based on the presence of a disability and its impact on a major life activity.

How does the 504 team determine “substantial limitation” in an educational setting?

Section 504 does not define “substantial”, but rather requires a school team to make that determination. Current and previous school performance, test scores, classroom behavior, evaluations, and information from parents and teachers will be considered when determining the extent to which a major life activity is affected.

Does a student retain 504 eligibility continually each school year?

Not necessarily. Student 504 plans are reviewed periodically (at least on an annual basis)  to determine if eligibility continues to be applicable or if modifications to the plan are appropriate. The review team may conclude that a student’s disability no longer substantially limits a major life activity.