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section 504

Quick Summary

Section 504 is a federal statute that prevents the discrimination of disabled students. Section 504 provides for many parental rights, including grievance procedures and yearly updates. A Section 504 plan can be revised at any time throughout the school year. In order to qualify for Section 504, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The principal of each school is responsible for Section 504 compliance.

In many cases, it is the parent who notifies the Section 504 team of a student's disability. The parent often initiates a referral based on information gathered from a private practice professional. The parent may recognize difficulties associated with studying or the completion of homework, which may demonstrate the nature and impact of the disability. The teacher or school personnel can also refer a student for Section 504 consideration. A concerted effort on the part of the school personnel and parent will produce the best results. Lastly, any decision that carries the labeling of a student as disabled demands careful consideration and due process.

Parent Information

Section 504 is a federal statute that protects the rights of disabled students. Any agency that receives federal funds must adhere to regulations that govern Section 504. Since the Duval County Public School District receives federal funds, it must follow the federal guidelines and procedures attached to Section 504. Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, passed mainly to protect disabled workers, but also to guarantee protections for disabled children. Specifically, Section 504 of the Rehabilation Acts states:

"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency...."

To be eligible under Section 504, one must be qualified (between 3 to 23 years of age) and disabled. Section 504 does not list all of the qualifying disabilities, but rather refers to any physical or mental disability that "substantially limits" a major life activity. Students with environmental, cultural, and economic disadvantages are not covered.

Receiving services of accommodations through Section 504 requires two elements, namely a DOCUMENTED disability and a SUBSTANTIAL LIMITATION of a major life activity.

The first element, a disability is documented by submitting a formal report from an appropriate professional. The second element involves a substantial limitation as determined by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student. A major life activity can be defined as "caring for one's self, breathing, seeing, walking, etc...."

The office for Civil Rights (OCR) has not clearly defined substantial limitation. They have ruled, however, that a student making adequate progress is not eligible for Section 504 since the student is not being denied the benefits of an education. A student who the parent feels is not working up to potential but is making adequate progress would not be eligible for services since they are receiving an educational benefit.

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