WHAT IS SECTION 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly called “Section 504,” is a federal law that protects students from discrimination based on disability. Section 504 assures that students with disabilities have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to students without disabilities. To be eligible, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Students who are entitled to a 504 plan (1) have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, and (2) need accommodations, aids, or services—because of their disability—so they can access and benefit from their education. To determine whether or not a student needs a 504 plan, the school must follow these three steps: refer, bring a 504 team together, and evaluate.
The 504 process
1. Referral of the student to the school guidance team (GT):
- Notify your student’s school counselor of your request for 504 consideration
- Within 25 school days from the date of referral the GT will meet to consider the request
2. GT decides Whether to Refer the Student for a 504 Evaluation:
- If the GT decides not to evaluate the student, the parent will receive notice of the team’s decision, and the process is finished
- If the GT decides to evaluate the student the process continues below
3. Student is evaluated for possible 504 eligibility:
- The evaluation team must obtain parent/guardian consent to proceed with evaluation
- The GT determines the scope of each student’s Section 504
- Evaluation will be completed within 35 school days
4. Evaluation Team Determines the Student’s Eligibility under Section 504:
- The evaluation team reviews evaluation data and determines eligibility under Section 504.
- If the student is eligible under Section 504, the school counselor assumes the role of the Section 504 case manager.
- Regardless of the evaluation decision the parent/guardian receives a copy of Section 504-Procedural Safeguards.
5. Section 504 Team Develops a Section 504 Accommodation Plan for the Student:
- Section 504 Team (including parent/guardian and student if appropriate) develops a Section 504 Accommodation Plan.
- Parent/guardian consent is required before implementation of 504 plan
- School counselor monitors the Plan implementation and student
- Parent/guardian is provided a copy of the Section 504 Accommodation Plan.
6. Section 504 Team Annually Reviews the Student’s Section 504 Accommodation Plan:
- Section 504 team reviews the student’s Section 504 Accommodation Plan at least once per year.
- If the team decides to revise the Plan, the parent/guardian must receive a revised copy of the Plan and Section 504- Procedural Safeguards.