What is Section 504?
Section 504 is a federal civil rights law that focuses on the non-discrimination of students with disabilities. The law says that a public school, or any other federally funded public facility, cannot discriminate against a student because of a disability and students must be given the same opportunities to participate in academic and extracurricular activities.
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Is my child eligible?
A student is eligible for Section 504 accommodations if they “have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of disability or is regarded as such”.
- Physical or mental impairment includes:
- any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine.
- any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
- Major life activities impacted include:
- caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating.
- Major body functions are also considered major life activities, these include:
- the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.
Do you know a child who might need services?
Any adult can request a Section 504 evaluation for individuals with suspected disabilities (birth through age 21) through the Child Find initiative. Parents, doctors, child care providers, friends and relatives can contact the school counselor or educational diagnostician to begin the review process.
What to expect from the Section 504 process
Contact your child's Campus Section 504 Advisor to request a Section 504 evaluation.
Sign consent to begin the evaluation process to determine your child's eligibility for Section 504 services.
Provide medical information, if you have it, and any observations about your child that may help to determine their eligibility.
Participate in the Section 504 initial meeting to discuss your child's eligibility and, if appropriate, develop a Section 504 plan.
Receive a copy of your child's Section 504 Plan, your parental rights, and information on your child's progress with their new accommodations.
Review your child's plan through an annual Section 504 meeting to consider continued eligibility or to make changes as needed.
Retention of records
The District must provide the parent of a student with a disability the opportunity to examine all records relating to the student as described in the Section 504 Parent Rights, unless the District has been provided with evidence that there is a court order, state statute, or legally binding document relating to such matters as guardianship, divorce, separation, or custody that specifically revoked these rights.
In addition, the District shall comply with the parent’s or adult student’s rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), including the parent’s right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school, the right to request that a school correct records that are inaccurate or misleading, and rights related to the disclosure of records.
Local Schedule SD requires the District to retain the records of each student referred to or receiving services under Section 504 for at least five (5) years following the cessation of Section 504 services.
Section 504 resourcesExpand All
Parental Rights and Safeguards
No qualified student with a disability shall, on the basis of the disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any district service, program or activity. 42 U.S.C. 12132; 29 U.S.C. 794; 34CFR 104.4(a)
The enabling regulations for Section 504 as set out in 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 104 provide parents and / or students with the following rights:
- You have a right to be informed by the school district of your rights under Section 504. (The purpose of this Notice is to advise you of those rights.) 34 CFR 104.32
- Your child has the right to an appropriate education designed to meet his / her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. 34 CFR 104.33
- Your child has the right to free educational services except for those fees that are imposed on non-disabled students or their parents. Insurers and similar third parties are not relieved from an otherwise valid obligation to provide or pay for services provided to a disabled student. 34 CFR 104.33
- Your child has a right to placement in the least restrictive environment. 34 CFR 104.34
- Your child has a right to facilities, services, and activities that are comparable to those provided for non-disabled students. 34 CFR 104.34
- Your child has a right to an evaluation prior to an initial Section 504 accommodation plan and any subsequent significant change in plan. 34 CFR 104.35
- Testing and other evaluation procedures must conform with the requirements of 34 CFR 104.35 as to validation, administration, areas of evaluation, etc. The district shall consider information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, adaptive behavior, physical or medical reports, student grades, progress reports, parent observations, anecdotal reports, and State Assessment scores. 34 CFR 104.35
- Decisions must be made by a group of persons (i.e., the Section 504 Committee), including persons knowledgeable about; your child, the meaning of the evaluation data, the placement options, and the legal requirements for least restrictive environment and comparable facilities. 34 CFR 104.35
- If eligible under Section 504, your child has a right to periodic reevaluation, generally every three years. 34 CFR 104.35
- You have the right to notice prior to any action by the district in regard to the identification, evaluation, or accommodation plan of your child. 34 CFR 104.36
- You have the right to examine relevant records. 34 CFR 104.36
Complaints and grievances
The District has adopted grievance procedures for addressing complaints of discrimination under Section 504. The District’s grievance procedures are designed to provide for a prompt and equitable resolution of a complaint.
A parent who believes their student has been discriminated against in violation of Section 504 is encouraged to first attempt to resolve the matter informally with the Campus Section 504 Advisor and/or Campus Principal. However, if the Campus Section 504 Advisor and Campus Principal are both the subject of the complaint, the parent shall submit their complaint directly to the District Section 504 Coordinator. The Campus Section 504 Advisor and/or Campus Principal will promptly investigate the complaint and communicate the findings to the parent within ten (10) school days.
If the parent believes that the Campus Section 504 Advisor and/or Campus Principal were unable to informally resolve the matter or wishes to do so for any other purpose, the parent may file a formal Section 504 complaint directly with the District Section 504 Coordinator through the District’s grievance process.
The District designates and authorizes the following person as the ADA/Section 504 coordinator to be responsible for coordinating the District's efforts to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, which incorporates and expands upon the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, for students:
Absent extenuating circumstances, no later than thirty (30) school days after the filing of the formal complaint, the District Section 504 Coordinator will issue a written decision. The written decision shall be shared with the parent in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The decision of the District Section 504 Coordinator is final and unappealable. However, the parent may still file a request for an impartial due process hearing, a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), or a civil action in federal or state court relating to the claims. The impartial hearing shall be conducted by a person who is knowledgeable about Section 504 issues and who is not employed by the District or related to a member of the Board in a degree that would be prohibited under the nepotism statute [see board policy DBE]. The impartial hearing officer is not required to be an attorney. The District and the parent shall be entitled to legal representation at the impartial hearing.
Should a parent file an OCR complaint, OCR will review the District’s grievance procedures for compliance in the course of conducting the OCR investigation.
- An accommodation is a change to how or where a child is taught—or the materials used for teaching. Simple changes can help kids work around their learning challenges. For example, a teacher may allow a child who writes slowly to answer test questions orally.
- Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA)
- This federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It covers schools, many workplaces, and anyone who offers goods or services to the public. The definition of disability in ADA applies to 504 plans.
- To get a 504 plan, a child must have a disability. This is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a person’s ability to participate in a major life activity.
- Equal access
- Equal opportunity of a qualified person with a disability to participate in or benefit from educational aid, benefits, or services.
- Free appropriate public education (FAPE)
- For purposes of Section 504, refers to the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met and is based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the Section 504 requirements pertaining to educational setting, evaluation and placement, and procedural safeguards.
- General education curriculum
- This is the knowledge and skills that all public school students are expected to master. It may be different from state to state. The goal of a 504 plan is to make sure a student with a disability has access to, or can take part in, the general curriculum.
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): As much as possible, students with disabilities must learn in the same setting as other students. This is known as the least restrictive environment, and the law requires it.
- A modification is a change in what a student is expected to learn. For example, instead of reading a book at grade level, a child might read a book written for two grade levels lower. In general, a child who needs modifications would have an IEP, not a 504 plan.
- Refers to regular and/or special educational program/setting in which a student receives educational and/or related services.
- Related services
- Refers to developmental, corrective, and other supportive services, including psychological, counseling and medical diagnostic services and transportation.
- Supplementary aids and services
- These supports help kids learn in the general education classroom. One example is assistive technology, like audiobooks or keyboards.
Public schools are required to employ procedural safeguards to ensure the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities or suspected of having a disability. The policies of the Garland ISD relevant to Section 504 include:
State and federal resources
- TEA Section 504
- US Department of Education Section 504 Parent and Educator Resource Guide
- US Department of Education Section 504 Resources in Languages Other than English
- TEA Section 504 Family Fact Sheet
- TEA Technical Assistance Guide: Section 504
- FAQs about the education of children with disabilities from the OCR