Americans with Disabilities Act (Section 504)

  • What is it?
    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. Section 504 applies to recipients of federal funds, including public schools. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) extends the protections of Section 504 without regard to federal funding. The ADA also applies to public schools.

    No otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States…shall solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance . . . . " 29 USC Sec. 704.

    The Section 504 regulations prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and requires school districts to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities. A 504 planning team decides what supports a student with disabilities needs to "level the playing field" so the student can access educational opportunities.

    Some students with disabilities qualify for special education services and supports under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Section 504 is not the same as Special Education under the IDEA.

    Who is it for?
    Students in grades K-12 who have, have a record of having, or are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life function that impacts the student’s ability to access district services.

    Who do I contact for more information?
    School counselors and intervention specialists are Section 504 student case managers. Contact your building principal, school counselors, or intervention specialists for more information about Section 504 or to discuss a potential Section 504 referral.