What is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that governs special education, Section 504 is not an education, service, or funding statute. The purpose of Section 504 is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are given the same opportunity to participate in programs and activities as are their non-disabled peers. It is the responsibility of Waxahachie Independent School District to identify and serve students who, within the intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, are considered disabled and who, because of disability, need special services within the general education program.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states in part:
“No otherwise qualified individual 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 program or activity which receives or benefits from federal financial assistance”... (34 C.F.R. 104.4(e))
Who is Eligible under Section 504?
Students must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major activities or bodily functions; have a record of such impairment, or be regarded as having such an impairment.
What are the Referral Procedures?
Any student may be referred for a 504 evaluation by a parent, teacher, counselor, administrator, or other District employee who is knowledgeable about the student and has reason to believe that the student has a disability that is substantially limiting one of life’s major activities. All referrals must be submitted in writing to the Campus 504 Coordinator who will prepare and send all required notices.
How is Placement Defined?
In the context of Section 504, “placement” refers to the general education classroom or program with individually planned accommodations or interventions. A student who qualifies to receive Section 504 services is entitled to the same access to programs and activities as any other student. The District is not required to alter requirements or standards for participation. There is no modification of the essential knowledge and skills for 504 students. Eligibility under Section 504 is not intended to reduce expectations for students with disabilities. The intent of Section 504 is to provide eligible students with reasonable accommodations that will give them an equal chance to achieve educational success.
What are my Legal Rights as a Parent?
Upon referral to Section 504, parents will receive a Notice of Rights for Disabled Students and their Parents, which outlines the procedural safeguards in place for Section 504 students.