Section 504 is a federal law which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. The law provides:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability … 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 … 29 USC § 794.
One of the principal purposes of Section 504 is to ensure that students with disabilities are not denied access to educational facilities, programs, and opportunities on the basis of their disability. For a student to have a disability which may be protected under this law, he or she must: (1) have a mental or physical impairment, (2) which substantially limits, (3) one or more major life activities. For a student to be considered an “eligible student” under Section 504, all three criteria must be fulfilled.
Under Section 504, schools that receive federal funds may not discriminate against eligible students with disabilities. Section 504 also protects students who have a record of a disability, and students who are regarded as having a disability. Discrimination against students in either category is prohibited under Section 504.
Section 504 requires the District to provide a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) to each eligible student who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. 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 non-disabled students and in accordance with Section 504 requirements pertaining to educational setting, evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguards. The FAPE obligation extends to all students described in this paragraph, regardless of the nature or severity of their disability.
The District shall not discriminate against any student having a disability, a record of having had a disability, or who is otherwise regarded as having a disability. The District shall also, as required by law, attempt to locate and identify each student within the District’s jurisdiction who may be an eligible student under Section 504. The District shall evaluate each student identified under Section 504 and provide each eligible student with a FAPE as defined by law.
The District also shall not discriminate against persons based upon any other legally protected characteristic. Other District publications and policy documents should be consulted to obtain details of those prohibitions, and the means by which an internal complaint or grievance concerning any type of discrimination may be filed. If you would like more information about the 504 identification please contact your building 504 coordinator (principal or school counselor).