Section 504 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which applies to persons with disabilities. It is a civil rights act which protects the civil and constitutional rights of persons with disabilities. Section 504 prohibits organizations which receive federal funds from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals solely on the basis of handicap. Section 504 is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
A person is considered "handicapped" if he/she:
1. has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
2. has a record of such an impairment, or
3. is regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities include such things as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and operation of major bodily functions.
A free appropriate education is one provided by the public elementary or secondary school which includes regular or special education and related aids and services that (i) are designated to meet the individual educational needs of persons with disabilities, and (ii) are based upon adherence to evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguard requirements.
Section 504 regulation requires that a district evaluate "any person who, because of handicap, needs or is believed to need special education or related services". An evaluation is also required prior to any significant change of placement. Prescreening methods which affect a student's eligibility for special education may be considered "evaluations" and are subject to proper notice requirements.
Section 504 does not require that a district must carry out a full evaluation of a student simply because a parent requests it. However, refusal by the district to do so constitutes an official action with respect to the student's evaluation and placement, and the district must provide the parent with procedural safeguards.
If you think that Section 504 may apply to your student, please click the link below to obtain School Counselor contact information.