A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability
in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal
WHO IS PROTECTED
Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such
an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major
life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing,
learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE A FREE, APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION
An "appropriate" education means an education comparable to
that provided to students without disabilities. This may be defined as
regular or special education services. Students can receive related services
under Section 504 even if they are not provided any special education.
Section 504 does require development of a plan, although this written
document is not mandated. The Individualized Education Program (IEP)
of IDEA may be used for the Section 504 written plan. Many experts recommend
that a group of persons knowledgeable about the student convene and specify
the agreed-upon services.
FUNDING TO IMPLEMENT REQUIREMENT
State and local jurisdictions have responsibility. IDEA funds may not
be used to serve children found eligible only under Section 504.
Section 504 requires notice to parents regarding identification, evaluation,
and/or placement. Written notice is recommended. Notice must be made
only before a "significant change" in placement. Following
IDEA procedural safeguards is one way to meet Section 504 mandates.
Unlike IDEA, Section 504 requires only notice, not consent, for evaluation.
It is recommended that districts obtain parental consent.
Like IDEA, evaluation and placement procedures under Section 504 require
that information be obtained from a variety of sources in the area of
concern; that all data are documented and considered; and that decisions
are made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, evaluation
data, and placement options. Section 504 requires periodic reevaluations,
but does not specify any timelines for placement. Section 504 requires
that students be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum
extent appropriate. Section 504 does not require a meeting or any change
Section 504 requires local education agencies to provide impartial hearings
for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement
of a student. It requires that parents have an opportunity to participate
in the hearing process and to be represented by counsel. Beyond this,
due process details are left to the discretion of the local education
agency. It is recommended that districts develop policy guidance and