Section 504 is a Federal law that prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of Federal funding, including school districts. All elementary and secondary school students who are qualified individuals with disabilities, as defined by Section 504, and who need regular or special education and related aids and services are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Under Section 504, FAPE is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met and are based on adherence to procedures governing educational setting, evaluation and placement, and procedural safeguards. Implementation of an IEP developed in accordance with the IDEA is one means of meeting the FAPE standard under Section 504.
Section 504 also requires, among other things, that a student with a disability receive an equal opportunity to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities, and to be free from bullying and harassment based on disability. Under Section 504, a student with a disability is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (and therefore has a disability) must be made on a case-by-case basis. The definition of disability should be interpreted to allow for broad coverage of students.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Major life activities also include the operation of a major bodily function, including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. If you have any reason to believe your child would be eligible under Section 504, please contact your school administrator first.