The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly known in the schools as “Section 504,” is a federal law passed by the United States Congress with the purpose of prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons who may participate in, or receive benefits from, programs receiving federal financial assistance. In the public schools specifically, §504 applies to ensure that eligible disabled students are provided with educational benefits and opportunities equal to those provided to non-disabled students.
Under §504, a student is considered having a medical condition/disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Section 504 also protects students with a record of an impairment, or who are regarded as having an impairment from discrimination on the basis of disability. Students can be considered disabled and can receive services under §504 even if they do not qualify for, or receive, special education services under the IDEA. While IEPs fall under Special Education Law, 504 Plans fall under the Office of Civil Rights, with the intent that students who qualify are provide equal and reasonable access to education.
To be eligible under a 504 plan, there are two requirements: First, a determination of whether a student has a qualifying disability needs to be based on a review/evaluation of all pertinent information but need not necessarily include a formal medical diagnosis; however, routinely this is obtained and shared as part of the pertinent information by which to establish the qualifying disability. Once the medical condition/disability has been determined the next consideration is whether that disability substantially limits the child’s ability to learn in a general education classroom (which is one of the major life activities). This can include learning, reading, communicating, and thinking Evaluative data from observations, record review, teacher input is reviewed in addition to the medical documentation to determine whether and what types of accommodations may be required to provide equal access to learning in the general education setting. In comparison, to be eligible under an IEP, a child has one or more of the 13 disabilities listed in IDEA; the disability must impact substantially on the child’s educational performance and/or ability to learn and benefit from the general education curriculum, and the child must need specialized instruction in order to appropriately progress in school.
Procedures are followed by a knowledgeable committee in making decisions regarding this federal law. To be eligible for Section 504 the committee must identify:
Process of Referral for a 504 Plan
Request for a section 504 plan should be sent to the grade level assistant principal (see below) for your child’s corresponding high school. The request can also be sent to the child’s school counselor. Once received, the grade level 504 Coordinator will provide an overview of the process and parental rights and obtain parental consent to initiate the 504 process. The grade level 504 Coordinator will request to obtain a collection of data from a variety of sources (Parent Input, Medical Reports/Records, Teacher Input, Nurse Health/History Form, School Records, etc). The 504 Committee Reviews this information in order to determine if the student meets eligibility for a 504 Plan and if so, identifies the accommodations to be included in the plan. Once the plan has been developed, it is shared with the appropriate school staff to be implemented and monitored, with annual review and re-evaluation every three years or sooner if appropriate.
504 Plan Grievance Procedures
District Section 504 Coordinator
Grade Level Section 504 CoordinatorsPassaic County Technical Institute
Section 504 Plan Resources
Office of Civil Rights, New York Office
United States Department of Education
32 Old Slip, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10005
Phone: (646) 428-3800
Toll-Free: (800) 421-3481
(This location serves: New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands)