While preparing for my blog on ADD/ADHD I realized I hadn’t covered Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students with ADD/ADHD may receive services under Section 504 so this general guide should be helpful for my next blog.
Section 504: General Information
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a division of the U.S. Department of Education. It oversees enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as other anti-discrimination laws. They do not handle claims relating to enforcement of IDEA. That is the job of Office of Special Education Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Students who qualify for special education under IDEA automatically fall under the protections of Section 504. Students who qualify for services or accommodations under Section 504 do not automatically qualify for protections of IDEA. Section 504 protects a much broader student population.
Section 504 states that “no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under” any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service. [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)]. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
(1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
(2) have a record of such an impairment; or
(3) be regarded as having such an impairment. [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].
A few examples of major life activities include: walking, seeing, speaking, learning, breathing, eating, reading, caring for one’s self, working, etc.
Students who are protected under Section 504 shall be afforded a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) 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.
Section 504 requires recipients to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services, accommodations, and modifications designed to meet the individual needs of such students. One of the major differences between a 504 Plan and IEP is the 504 Plan does not contain annual goals.
Section 504: Process
- Referral to the 504 Coordinator
- Written Consent for Evaluation by parent
- Evaluation Completed (Not required to include formalized testing, unless the team determines it is necessary.) Evaluation should:
- Be based on information from a variety of sources (teachers, other school staff, parent/guardian, physician, nurse, other professionals, or persons in the community). This may include interviews, reports, and observations.
- Document and consider all pertinent information (records, assessment data, medical reports).
- Conducted by a team or group of persons including those who are knowledgeable about the child, the suspected condition, evaluative procedures, the meaning of evaluative data, and accommodation/ placement options.
- Utilize assessment materials, tests, and/or evaluation procedures, which are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need.
- Team Meeting
- Draft a 504 Accommodation Plan/Services
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