Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Resources and Information on Section 504:
- West Fargo Public Schools Policy: Student Education Records & Privacy
- North Dakota Department of Public Instruction: Section 504
- US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights: Protecting Students with Disabilities
- US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights: Free Appropriate Public Education
If you have any questions regarding Section 504, please feel free to contact our Section 504 Coordinator, Carol Zent.
What is Section 504?
Section 504 is a Civil Rights law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . 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 . . . ."
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), through the US Department of Education (ED), enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from ED. Recipients of this Federal financial assistance include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies. The regulations implementing Section 504 in the context of educational institutions appear at 34 C.F.R. Part 104.
Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met. pasting For more information, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
Parents can learn more about Section 504 by speaking directly with the Section 504 Coordinator at their child’s school.
Which students are eligible for Section 504 Accommodations?
A student with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment, is eligible to receive accommodations under Section 504.
Physical or Mental Impairments
A physical or mental impairment may include but are not limited to, physical disabilities or conditions, psychological disorders, and specific learning disabilities.
Major Life Activities
Major life activities may include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, learning, and working.
If a physical or mental impairment prevents the student from performing one or more of the major life activities listed above, the student is able to be considered for accommodations under Section 504. Each student case is reviewed individually.
Services are available to students with disabilities under Section 504
Section 504 requires schools to provide students with disabilities appropriate educational services that are designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met. An appropriate education for a student with a disability under Section 504 regulations could consist of education in regular classrooms, education in regular classes with supplementary services, and/or special education and related services.
What happens when a request for accommodations is made?
When a parent requests an evaluation, Section 504 imposes a duty to act on a parent request for an evaluation. The school must convene the 504 Team to review the request and any other relevant information regarding the student and determine whether the student is eligible for accommodations. If the school determines the student to be eligible, the 504 Team will also consider which accommodations are most appropriate. All school-level decisions will be rendered in writing.
Who participates in the 504 team meeting?
The decision to provide accommodations is made by a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the student’s abilities, the meaning of the data and information being reviewed, and the type(s) of accommodation(s) that may best meet the student’s needs. The school-based 504 Team invites the student’s parent(s) to participate, and must include at least two individuals listed below who can:
- Speak to the student’s abilities and skills (e.g., the student’s teacher(s) or school counselor)
- Interpret reports or evaluations (e.g., school psychologist, school administrator, social worker)
- Share information about the accommodations available to meet the student’s needs (e.g., the Section 504 Coordinator)
What information is reviewed at the meeting?
The information reviewed by the 504 Team must come from a variety of sources and describe the student’s abilities and needs. 504 Teams may review information from assessments, observations, student work samples, report cards, and medical records to understand the student’s aptitude, achievement, behaviors, and health/medical needs. Parents and school staff may bring any information they believe best describes the student’s abilities and needs. Note: Physicians may also recommend that the school provide certain accommodations, but ultimately, the 504 Team is responsible for determining whether the recommended accommodations are appropriate and how to provide them at school, Thus, this approval is made by the 504 Team, not the physician.
How is eligibility determined?
The 504 Team is responsible for considering, on a case-by-case basis, whether a student’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity. This determination is based on a review of multiple sources of information. The 504 Team considers whether the student’s impairment significantly impacts the student’s performance and/or participation in school, based on the information presented.
Do students need a 504 plan for health/medical accommodations?
Not all students who need medication administration require a 504 Plan. Students do not need 504 Plans if taking medication or receiving health/medical services does not interfere with their ability to participate fully in school.
How are accommodations developed?
The 504 Team determines which accommodations are appropriate for each student based on the nature and severity of the student’s impairment, and individual need.
What is the difference between a 504 and an IEP?
Once a student is determined to be eligible, is the student always eligible for accommodations?
No. 504 Plans must be renewed annually by the 504 Team. As long as the student’s impairment continues to substantially limit the student’s performance and/or participation in school, the student remains eligible to receive accommodations.
Parents can learn more about Section 504 by speaking directly with the Section 504 Coordinator/Counselor at their child’s school.
Degrees and Certifications:
Malarie Carlson, , M.S., LPC
Behavioral Health and Wellness Coordinator
West Fargo Public Schools
207 W Main Ave | West Fargo, ND 58078
P: (701) 551-4819
Pathfinder Services of ND (PSND) has developed Section 504 - The Journey, a five-part series focusing on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Part 1: Section 504 - The Journey: Intro & History
- Part 2: Section 504 - The Journey: Section 504 Disability Defined
- Part 3: Section 504 - The Journey: Evaluation & Identification
- Part 4: Section 504 - The Journey: Section 504 Plan
- Part 5: Section 504 - The Journey: Procedural Requirements and Safeguards