Section 504 is a federal law and part of the American with Disabilities Act designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. 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 school district must provide a free appropriate public education to district students who are eligible under Section 504. Instruction must be individually designed to meet the needs of those students as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities. An appropriate education under Section 504 requires that the services be effective and fair.
Although Section 504 does not require schools to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with annual goals, the school does provide written documentation for each student identified and provide accommodations and/or services under Section 504. If school staff suspects a need for accommodations, a referral should be made, evaluations conducted, and possible identification determined by a team knowledgeable about the student. If the student is identified, the team might develop a Section 504 Plan.
Section 504 is not a special education plan. The school staff and parents should collaborate to help ensure that students are provided accommodations through general education. The exception to this standard is a student who has been determined eligible as having a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Such a student could receive special education services under IDEA and accommodations required under Section 504.
If your child has a disability, which “substantially limits one or more major life activities”, please contact the Special Populations Coordinator at 815-942-0056 for additional information.