Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
Section 504 states that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].
As defined by federal law: “An individual with a disability means any person who: (i) has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment” [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].
What is an "impairment"?
An impairment as used in Section 504 may include any disability, long-term illness, or various disorder that “substantially” reduces or lessens a student’s ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a learning-, behavior- or health-related condition. [“It should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities” (Appendix A to Part 104, #3)].
Many students have conditions or disorders that are not readily apparent to others. They may include conditions such as specific learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy and allergies. Hidden disabilities such as low vision, poor hearing, heart disease or chronic illness may not be obvious, but if they substantially limit that child’s ability to receive an appropriate education as defined by Section 504, they may be considered to have an “impairment” under Section 504 standards. As a result, these students, regardless of their intelligence, will be unable to fully demonstrate their ability or attain educational benefits equal to that of non-disabled students (The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—Pamphlet). The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases, conditions or disorders that constitute impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list. While the definition of a disabled person also includes specific limitations on what persons are classified as disabled under the regulations, it also specifies that only physical and mental impairments are included, thus “environmental, cultural and economic disadvantage are not in themselves covered” (Appendix A to Part 104, #3).
What are "major life activities"?
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others and working. As of January 1, 2009 with the reauthorization of the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act, this list has been expanded to also include the life activities of reading, concentrating, standing, lifting, bending, etc. This may include individuals with AD/HD, dyslexia, cancer, diabetes, severe allergies, chronic asthma, Tourette ’s syndrome, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disorders, depression, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, HIV/AIDS, behavior disorders and temporary disabilities (e.g., broken writing arm, broken leg, etc.). Conditions that are episodic or in remission are also now covered if they create a substantial limitation in one or more major life activity while they are active. Students who are currently using illegal drugs or alcohol are not covered or eligible under Section 504.
What are my rights as a parent under Section 504?
As a parent or legal guardian, you have the right to:
Receive notice regarding the identification, evaluation and/or placement of your child;
Examine relevant records pertaining to your child;
Request an impartial hearing with respect to the district’s actions regarding the identification evaluation, or placement of your child, with an opportunity for the parent/guardian to participate in the hearing, to have representation by an attorney, and have a review procedure;
File a complaint with your school District Section 504 Coordinator, who will investigate the allegations regarding Section 504 matters other than your child’s identification, evaluation and placement.
File a complaint with the appropriate regional Office for Civil Rights. For additional information, contact: U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-1100, (800) 421-3481. You may also visit www.ed.gov/ocr or email the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can my child be covered under IDEA and Section 504?
No. Students may not be eligibile under both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. If a student is not eligible under IDEA, the parent may request a Section 504 evaluation and eligibility determination. A parent on an IDEA-eligible student may not revoke services, however, and request services under Section 504. According to the Office of Civil Rights, Letter to McKethan, 25 IDELR 295, 296 ((OCR 1996), the District satisfies the provisions of Section 504 as to the child by developing and implementing an IEP under IDEA. If a parent revokes services under IDEA, they "would essentially be rejecting what would be offered under Section 504."
Additionl information, including the Student Referral Form, is available in the menu at the right. Should you have further questions, please contact the Logan County School's 504 Representative, Dr. Barry W. Goley.