Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 applies to recipients of federal financial assistance, including public school districts. Section 504 Fact Sheet >>
In 1990, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which also prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title II of the ADA applies to all public entities, including school districts.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) oversees enforcement of Section 504 and ADA in public schools. OCR Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in public schools >>
Your Rights Under Section 504
You have the right to:
- Have your child take part in, and receive benefits from, public education programs without discrimination because of his/her disability.
- Have the school district advise you of your rights under federal law.
- Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement of your child.
- Receive all information in your native language and/or primary mode of communication.
- Have your child receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This includes the right to be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. It also includes the right to have the school district make accommodations to allow your child an equal opportunity to participate in school and school-related activities.
- Have your child educated in facilities and receive services comparable to those provided to students without disabilities.
- Have evaluation educational and placement decisions made based upon a variety of information sources, and by the persons who know the student, evaluation data, and the placement options.
- Have your child receive special education and related services if he/she is found to be eligible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- Have transportation provided to and from an alternative placement setting at no greater cost to you than would be incurred if the student was placed in a program operated by the district.
- Have your child be given an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities offered by the district.
- Examine all relevant records relating to decision regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, educational program and placement.
- Expect annual reviews of your child’s 504 plan which may include (1) the need for additional evaluation information; (2) continued eligibility under Section 504; and (3) the content of the plan and service provider.
- Obtain copies of educational records at a reasonable cost unless the fee would effectively deny you access to the records.
- Receive a response from the school district to reasonable requests for explanation and interpretations of your child’s records.
- Request amendment of your child’s educational records if there is reasonable cause to believe that they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of privacy rights of your child. If the school district refuses this request for amendment, it shall notify you within a reasonable time, and advise you of the right to a hearing.
- Request mediation or an impartial due process hearing related to decisions or actions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, educational program or placement. You and the student may take part in the hearing and have an attorney represent you.
- File a 504 grievance if you have a disagreement with the school.
PSD Policies and Grievance Procedures
FAQs and More Information
Does a parent/guardian have to give permission for school staff to evaluate a student for a 504 plan?
Yes, a parent/guardian does need to give permission for a 504 evaluation.
Does a student need a medical or psychological diagnosis to be eligible for a Section 504 plan?
A Section 504 team must determine a physical or mental impairment. Medical diagnoses are helpful, but not required to qualify for a 504 plan. Furthermore, a medical diagnosis does not guarantee 504 eligibility or services. The law was intentionally written this way to avoid limiting the range of conditions or diseases that may be considered for 504 eligibility.
Other than a medical diagnosis, what data sources are considered when looking at Section 504 eligibility?
A Section 504 team will look at a wide range of school-based data. This may include: grades, attendance reports, behavior plans, progress monitoring data, cumulative file information, psychological evaluations, medical information, observations, standardized testing information, and other sources of data.
Should the school wait until a student has gone through an MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) process before evaluating a student for a 504 Plan?
No, if a student has a known impairment that substantially limits major life activities, a 504 meeting to determine 504 eligibility should occur. A student may receive 504 accommodations on all tier of an MTSS process.
Does every recommendation presented by parents/guardians and community professionals have to be included on a student’s 504 plan?
All outside recommendations, documentation, and reports should be considered as part of the 504 evaluation. However, the 504 Team determines what accommodations are necessary in the school environment.
What happens to a student’s 504 Plan if the student moves to another school?
The 504 Plan will follow the student to the new school. The 504 Team at the receiving school will review the accommodations and distribute the plan to appropriate staff.
Who is responsible for 504 plans if the school counselor is not?
Each building must designate a 504 Team Lead that is responsible for coordinating 504 meetings and distributing plans.
If a student exits their IEP, should they get a 504 Plan?
If a student no longer qualifies for an IEP, a 504 plan may be considered. Many times, it is not necessary.
Do students with a 504 Plan have procedural safeguards, such as a manifestation, in place if they are suspended or up for expulsion?
A manifestation is a meeting to determine whether a student’s behavior, that resulted in suspension/expulsion, was a manifestation of their disability. Yes, if a student has a 504 plan, a manifestation hearing must occur.