Who do I contact? Campus Counselor will coordinate a Section 504 Meeting Section 504 General Overview of Laws, Regulations and Guidelines Introduction Section 504 is a federal 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, soley 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 or under any program or activity conducted by an Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service…” 29 U.S.C. §794(a).
Codified at 29 USC 701 et seq., Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first major legislative effort to secure an equal playing field for individuals with disabilities.
Section 504 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by federal fund recipients and requires that those recipients make the programs and activities they offer accessible to everyone. Recipients of federal funds for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies.
The purpose of Section 504 is to level the playing field and to afford students with disabilities equal opportunities to obtain the same results, to gain the same benefits, or to reach the same level of achievement as their nondisabled peers.
Section 504 does not guarantee success for students with disabilities; it does guarantee an equal opportunity for success through a “free appropriate public education.”
Section 504 overlaps with the requirements of other laws for federal fund recipients. Elementary and secondary schools must comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for example, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All children with disabilities who are protected under the IDEA also are covered under Section 504; however, the converse is not the case.
Disability Defined To be eligible under Section 504, a student must be determined, as a result of an evaluation, to have a “physical or mental impairment” that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” 29 USC 705(20)(B). Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance. A person has a disability (within the meaning of Section 504) if he: Has 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. Section 504 requires the school districts to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdiction who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.