Section 504 Educational Requirements

Section 504 is an Act which prohibits discrimination against persons with a disability in any program that receives Federal Financial Assistance.  Elementary and Secondary schools who receive Federal Financial Assistance must consider the needs of qualified persons with disabilities in determining and providing the aid, benefits, or services provided in the school setting. Attached is a publication of the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights which sets forth their interpretation of requirements of Section 504 in this area.

Disability:

Under Federal Law a person is "disabled" for purposes of Section 504 if a person: 1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, 2) has a record of such impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such an impairment.  "Major Life Activities" include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Responsibility:

Compliance with Section 504 falls under the responsibility of the general education program.  A student who is found to be disabled under Section 504, and does not qualify for services under IDEA, should be served by the staff and resources of the general education program.  A student who has been determined to be eligible as disabled under IDEA could receive special education and services required under Section 504 as part of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) developed for the student under IDEA.

Eligibility:

If East Otero School district has reason to believe that, because of a disability as defined under Section 504, a student needs special accommodations or services in the general education setting in order to participate equally in the school program, the district must evaluate the student.  If it is determined that the student is disabled under Section 504, the district must develop a plan and implement the delivery of needed services.

Free Appropriate Education:

The school must provide a free appropriate education to eligible Section 504 school-age students with disabilities in their jurisdiction.  Instruction must be individually designed to meet the needs of a disabled student so that such disabled student has equal educational opportunity with the non-disabled students.

It is required that the school document those services and/or accommodations for each eligible Section 504 student which are being provided.  If a student requires extensive services, a team must meet to develop a plan that outlines the student's services and accommodations.  Parental participation should always be encouraged and parental notice is preferred when the school proposes to evaluate or change the student's placement.

The quality of educational services provided to students with disabilities must be equivalent to the services provided to non-disabled students.

Services:

The determination of what services are needed must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student.  Parent involvement is preferred whenever possible. The group will review the nature of the disability and how it affects the student's education.  The decisions about Section 504 eligibility and services should be documented in the student's file and reviewed periodically.

Students who have physical and mental impairments that limit their ability to access and participate in the education program are entitled to rights under Section 504 even though they may not fall into IDEA categories and may not be covered by the special education law.