Section 504 is a federal law that protects the rights of persons with qualifying disabilities. It requires that recipients of federal funds make their programs and activities accessible to all persons with disabilities. If you are a parent and would like more information, contact your district’s 504 Coordinator or building principal.
Section 504 has three areas of emphasis: employment; facility and accessibility; and requirements for preschool, elementary, and secondary education programs/activities.
It must be emphasized that Section 504 falls under the responsibility of the general education program. It is also important to understand that schools receive no additional funding to implement Section 504 accommodations. At each school, the responsibility for ensuring Section 504 compliance rests with the building principal or principal designee.
The 504 Guideline Manual was initially designed to help school districts and school personnel develop a district-wide 504 guideline manual. However, it is also a great resource for parents, students, and the community to use in order to help better understand Section 504.
The intent is that school districts use the document as a starting point to create their own Section 504 guideline manual. Districts should not simply adopt the document as written, but instead, use it as a template. They should ultimately make their own manual that is district-specific, meets the needs of their community, and is compliant with federal and state law.
Parents and students can use the document to further educate themselves about Section 504. The table of contents provides many resources (e.g. parental/student rights, parent 504 guidelines, representative 504 forms) that are useful when learning about 504’s or to help navigate the process.
How Does Section 504 Define Disability?
Section 504 protects persons from discrimination based on their disability status. A person is considered to have a disability if he or she:
- has a mental or physical disability impairment which substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life activities;
- has a record of such impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
In general terms, this means that without accommodations and/or interventions, the student would not have a comparable opportunity to an appropriate education.