Section 504 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that protects the civil and constitutional rights of persons with disabilities. Any recipient both public and private that receives or benefits from federal financial assistance must comply with the requirements of Section 504. The school district must provide a free appropriate public education to each qualified disabled person.

What is Section 504?

Section 504 is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination and provides students with disabilities the opportunity to fully participate in any school receiving federal funds.

Who is a person with a disability under Section 504?

“An individual with a disability” means any person who:

  • "Has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (performance in comparison to ‘most people’)
  • Has a record of an impairment
  • Or is regarded as having such an impairment
What is a disability under Section 504?

Disability may include any impairment, long-term illness (6 months or more), or disorder that lessens the student's ability to access learning in the educational setting. The severity of the impairment, long-term illness, or disorder substantially limits one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others, and working. There is no exhaustive list of impairments, diseases, or diagnoses.

There is no condition or label that automatically qualifies a student under Section 504. A medical diagnosis serves as an alert that a referral may need to be considered; however, it does not guarantee eligibility for a Section 504 Adaptation Plan.

What issues can indicate the existence of a disability under Section 504?
  • Serial suspensions occur for a student.
  • Retention is considered for a student.
  • A student shows a pattern of not benefiting from instruction.
  • A student returns to school after an extended illness or injury.
  • A student returns to school after being released from a treatment center or institution.
  • A student is evaluated and determined not eligible under IDEA.
  • A student exhibits a chronic health condition.
  • A student is at risk for dropping out of school.
  • Substance abuse is an issue.
  • Student is absent for health issues.
  • A parent, teacher, counselor, or administrator, etc., believes he/she is observing a student in a substantially limited performance in one or more major life activities that are believed to be caused by a physical or mental impairment.
Who can make a referral under Section 504?

No one role group has the responsibility of initiating the referral. A referral can be initiated by a parent, teacher, or administrator. While not every referral results in a Section 504 evaluation, the attending school is obligated to address the concern(s) provided in the referral.

Who do I contact to make a referral?

Parents may initiate the process by contacting the Section 504 chairperson at their child’s school. As valuable members of the Section 504 team, parents are encouraged to participate and to contribute any relevant information such as doctor’s reports, outside testing reports, or health history information.

Who do I contact if I have a concern regarding the implementation of the plan OR if I don’t agree with the outcome of a Section 504 team meeting?

Start by contacting the Section 504 chairperson at your child’s school to reconvene the team to discuss and resolve your concerns. If there is no resolution, contact:

Kim Vinegar
Supervisor of Section 504 Implementation
Office of Exceptional Child Education
(502) 485-6290