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Section 504

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?

Congress prohibited discrimination against persons with disabilities in The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in a segment most often referred to simply as “Section 504.” This was a broadly worded prohibition that covers both children and adults. It applies to programs that receive any federal financial assistance. The principles enumerated in this section were later expanded and served as the basis for the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which is now known as the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008. This amendment became effective January 1, 2009, and broadened the interpretation of “disability” beyond the original definition.  In Section 504, the focus is on non-discrimination. As applied to the schools, the language broadly prohibits the denial of public education participation, or enjoyment of the benefits offered by public school programs because of a child’s disability.

2.  What is a 504 plan?  

A 504 plan is a blueprint or plan for how a child will have access to learning at school.  It provides accommodations to help students access the curriculum.

3. Who is eligible for a 504 plan?

In 1973, when the Rehabilitation Act was passed, "handicap" was the acceptable term for a mental or physical impairment. Today, the term "disability" is preferred and promoted. Under the provisions of Section 504, either term refers to a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which 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. To qualify for protection under the law, the individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working. Examples include Tourettes Syndrome, epilepsy, sickle-cell anemia, asthma, or a serious long-term illness or injury, if there is a resulting impact on a major life activity such as learning.

4.  What is the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP?

Section 504 is a civil rights law that ensures accommodations for equal access to services (instruction) that non-disabled students receive in the regular classroom, whereas IDEA involves individualized instruction by specially trained teachers.  More information about the differences can be found in the article, The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans.

5.  How do students move from a 504 plan to an IEP?

Typically, the students move through the POI (pyramid of intervention) process.  Contact Ms. Oglesby for more information about this.

6.  Who is responsible for implementing Section 504?

Section 504 is considered to be a provision of general education. It is therefore the responsibility of the school’s 504 chairperson, classroom teachers, and the principal to assure that Section 504 accommodations are carried out.

7.  What are the parent's rights regarding Section 504?

Federal law grants several rights to students who are eligible for a 504 plan.  Download a copy of the parent rights for more information.

View answers to more frequently asked questions at the Bulloch BOE's web site.