Student Services and Special Education » 504 Plan

504 Plan


Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by state and local governments. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), also a component of the U.S. Department of Education, administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a statute which funds special education programs. Each state educational agency is responsible for administering IDEA within the state and distributing the funds for special education programs. IDEA is a grant statute and attaches many specific conditions to the receipt of Federal IDEA funds. Section 504 and the ADA are antidiscrimination laws and do not provide any type of funding.
The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. 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 nondisabled students are met.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) extends this prohibition against discrimination to the full range of state and local government services, programs, and activities (including public schools) regardless of whether they receive any Federal financial assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (Amendments Act), effective January 1, 2009, amended the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and included a conforming amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) that affects the meaning of disability in Section 504. The standards adopted by the ADA were designed not to restrict the rights or remedies available under Section 504. The Title II regulations applicable to free appropriate public education issues do not provide greater protection than applicable Section 504 regulations. This guidance focuses primarily on Section 504.
Common Questions:
Can a medical diagnosis or illness suffice as an evaluation or automatic means for a student to receive services under Section 504?
  •  No. A Medical diagnosis of an illness or a general Physician's diagnosis does not automatically mean a student will receive services under Section 504. The diagnosis may be considered among other sources in the evaluation process. Other sources that are considered along with medical diagnosis, include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior. Section 504 regulations requires school districts to draw upon a variety of sources in interpreting evaluation data and making placement decisions. 
Who in the evaluation process makes the ultimate decision regarding a student's eligibility for services under Section 504?
  • The Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R.104.35 (c) (3) requires that school districts ensure that the determination that a student is eligible for special education and/or related aids and services be made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the meaning of the evaluation data and knowledgeable about the placement options. If a parent disagrees with the determination, he or she may request a due process hearing.
Does the nature of services to which a student is entitled under Section 504 differ by educational level?
  • Yes. Public elementary and secondary recipients are required to provide a free appropriate public education to qualified students with disabilities. Such an education consists of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met.

  • At the postsecondary level, the recipient is required to provide students with appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services that are necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in a school's program. Recipients are not required to make adjustments or provide aids or services that would result in a fundamental alteration of a recipient's program or impose an undue burden.

Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is that student always entitled to such services?

  • Yes, as long as the student remains eligible. The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the regulatory definition of a person with a disability. If a recipient school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.
504 team consists of the following people:           
  • District representative 
  • Parent(s) of the student
  • Regular education teacher
  • School Psychologist
  • Related Services Provider, if appropriate
  • An individual who understands and can explain evaluation results and how the results affect instruction
  • School physician, if requested by the parent
  • Any other people who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student, as requested by the parent or the school district
  • The student, if appropriate
**It is important that the parent(s) be at the student's meetings. The parents are the key to helping this whole process be successful and we encourage you to be a part of it all. Please let us know what we can do to make sure that you are informed and a part of all that we do to help your child.