Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), prohibits schools receiving any federal funding from discrimination against students on the basis of disability. One of the principal purposes of Section 504 is to ensure that students with disabilities are not denied access to educational facilities, programs, and opportunities on the basis of their disability. Section 504 is a civil rights statute and not a funding statute.
It is the responsibility of the District to evaluate and identify students who, within the scope of Section 504, are identified as disabled and require special accommodations and/or services in order to receive a free appropriate education (FAPE). If a student is found not to be eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), the requirements of Section 504 may be suitable if the student meets the Section 504 criteria. For a student to be considered an “eligible student” and require a plan under Section 504, the student must fulfill all three of the following criteria:
have a mental or physical impairment,
which substantially limits,
one or more major life activities.
Any student who is suspected to be disabled and in need of accommodations not available through existing programs in order to receive a free appropriate public education may be referred by a parent, teacher, or a third party for evaluation of a suspected disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 and the ADAAA of 2008.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal anti-discrimination law intended to create a level playing field in regular education. It was not created to give unfair advantage. Accommodations and/or services must apply only to the named impairment.
Norton City Schools has created a Section 504 Procedural Manual which outlines the District’s guidelines and parental rights.
Difference Between Section 504 and IDEIA (IEP)
Both Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans can offer formal help for K–12 students who are struggling in school. They are similar in some ways but very different in others. The biggest difference is Section 504 provides an outline on how a school will provide support and remove barriers for students with disabilities, while an IEP outlines a specialized education program (closing academic skill deficiencies through educational goals).