Q: Are all schools required to adhere to Section 504?
A: Yes. All schools that receive any federal financial assistance must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Q: Are school districts required to have a Section 504 Coordinator?
A: Yes. All school districts must designate, in writing, a person who coordinates 504 services and protections.
Q: Are students who are covered under IDEA always eligible for Section 504 protection?
Q: Are students who are covered under Section 504 always eligible for IDEA services?
Q: Are schools responsible for referring students suspected of being eligible for Section 504?
Q: Must schools evaluate students who are referred for Section 504?
A: No. If the school does not believe that the student is eligible, then an evaluation is not required. However, if this decision is made, the student’s parent or legal guardian must be informed of his/her due process rights to appeal.
Q: Must schools formally evaluate students?
A: Yes. Schools must evaluate students before determining their eligibility for services and before deciding which services are appropriate; however, unlike IDEA, which requires extensive testing, Section 504 includes teacher observations and other informal assessment data as appropriate assessment information.
Q: Must schools develop an IEP on student who are 504 eligible only?
A: No. An IEP is not required; however, schools must develop an individual accommodation plan for the student.
Q: Does a physician’s diagnosis of ADD/ADHD automatically result in a student being eligible for Section 504?
A: No. A physician’s diagnosis should be considered as one piece of information when evaluating the student. However, a physician’s diagnosis alone does not automatically result in eligibility for Section 504.
Q: Must schools reevaluate students who are receiving Section 504 services and protections?
A: Yes. Schools are required to periodically evaluate students. Unlike IDEA, which requires a reevaluation every three (3) years, Section 504 does not specify a time period.
Q: Must schools get permission from parents before getting students involved in Section 504 services?
A: No. Consent is not required; however, schools are required to inform parents before following procedures required under Section 504.
Q: Must schools label a student with a clinical category before providing protections under Section 504?
A: No. Unlike IDEA, Section 504 does not require a specific label on a student before eligibility. Students are not required to have a specific disability but only need to meet the functional definition of disability as defined in Section 504.
Q: Must schools make all of their buildings accessible to students with disabilities?
A: No. Schools are required to make all programs accessible for students with disabilities, but not all buildings.
Q: Can students served under Section 504 receive related services, such a physical therapy?
A: Yes. Schools must provide related services to students who are eligible for services under Section 504. The only service that a student under Section 504, unlike under IDEA, may need is a related service.
Q: Is there any extra federal funding for schools to use to provide appropriate services under Section 504?
A: No. There are no federal or state funds associated with serving Section 504 students.
Q: Is Section 504 age-specific, like IDEA, which only deals with students to the age of 22?
A: No. Section 504 is a birth-to-death law. Students do not “age out” for Section 504 services and protections.
Q: Can schools use any tests when evaluating students for Section 504 services?
A: No. While Section 504 is not specific about how to evaluate students for services, it does require that schools obtain information from a variety of sources and requires that nondiscriminatory testing methods be used when students are evaluated using test instruments. Parents must also give consent if any individualized standardized testing will be used.
Q: Are eligibility guidelines for Section 504 specific?
A: No. The eligibility requirements for Section 504 are rather vague. Basically, a student has a disability, as defined in Section 504. This means that a substantial limitation must occur in a major life activity.
Q: Where are most students who are eligible for Section 504 services placed?
A: Most students, who are eligible for Section 504, but not IDEA, are primarily served in general education classrooms.
Q: Can students who are served under Section 504 be expelled from school?
A: Yes. However, expulsion is considered a major change of placement, and Section 504 requires an evaluation before any change of placement. The determination should also be made regarding the relationship of the inappropriate behavior and the disability.
Q: Are slow learners eligible for Section 504 accommodations or services?
A: “Slow learning” is not a disability any more than giftedness would be considered an impairment. If a slow learner cannot cope with the general education, the problem may be with the curriculum or instructional approach, not the student. The curriculum or instruction may be modified to meet the ability and pace of the student. It should be noted that the student could have a disability (i.e., ADD/ADHD) and also be a slow learner. The ADD/ADHD could entitle the student to Section 504 services.
Q: When a student exits special education should they be considered for Section 504 eligibility?
A: Yes. Section 504 eligibility is a team decision and will depend on the unique needs of the student. Many exiting special education students will not require Section 504 accommodations or services. If the team decides to consider Section 504 eligibility, a referral would be made to the Section 504 team for determination. Special education students who are graduating from high school and moving on to post secondary opportunities should be considered for Section 504 services. Post secondary programs receiving federal funds are under the same obligations as K-12 schools.
Q: Where can parents or the school receive technical assistance regardingSection 504 issues?
A: There are several sources of technical assistance for parents and the school, including the following: (a) the District 504 Coordinator; (b) the Utah State Office of Education; and (c) the U.S. Department of Education, Denver Office for Civil Rights.
Q: Can the Section 504 team recommend alternatives to an eligible student's graduation requirements?
A. Yes. For example, a student with a severe physical disability might not be capable to participate and fulfill physical education graduation requirements. Adapted physical education would be a modification for the physical education requirement. Schools are encouraged to develop alternative options rather than totally waive a course requirement.
Q: Are all students with ADD/ADHD eligible for Section 504/ADA services?
A: Although many students who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD doqualify for Section 504 services, many others do not. Many students who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are either on medication or have been taught and apply compensatory skills to successfully function in a schoolenvironment and may not require Section 504 services.Some students with ADD/ADHD will be eligible for special education servicesif they were first found to be eligible for special education under the categoriesof learning disability, other health impaired, emotionally disturbed, ortraumatic brain injury.If the student has a mental or physical disability that substantially limits a major life activity (i.e., “learning” in the case of ADD/ADHD), then the studentwould qualify for Section 504 accommodations and/or services.
Q: Can a school require a medical statement for students for whom they cannot pinpoint a mental or physical impairment that is substantially limiting a major life activity within the school and for which assistance is needed in the school?
A: A school cannot require a parent or student to provide a medical statement if the school suspects that the student has a disability that would necessitate the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services under the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. However, a school is not required to evaluate a student who the school does not believe has a disability (i.e., a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, such as “learning”). A school is required to conduct an evaluation of any person who, because of disability or needs, or whom the school believes to need regular or special education and related aids and services before placing the person in regular or special education with related aids and services. If a school determines, based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case, that a medical assessment is necessary to make an appropriate evaluation consistent with 34 C.F.R. §104.35(a) and (b), the school must ensure that the student receives this assessment at no cost to the parents. If alternative assessment methods meet the evaluation criteria, these methods may be used in lieu of a medical assessment. If a district does not believe that a student has a disability and refuses to evaluate the student, the district must inform the parents of their due process rights under 34 C.F.R. §104.36.
Q: Are schools required to provide the food when dietary modifications are needed? Do parents provide the food and the school prepare it (as is the case with medication)?
A: It depends. A school, in providing any aid, benefit, or service, may not deny or afford a person with a disability an opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, an aid, benefit, or service, such as the provision of food services, that is not equal to, or as effective as, that provided to persons without disability. The school is also required to provide free, appropriate public education to each qualified person with a disability. Unlike medicine, which the school is not required to provide for any student, if the school provides food to students generally, it would also have to provide an appropriate lunch to the student with disabilities who has special dietary needs on the same basis that food is provided to students without disabilities. Depending on the circumstances, the school may have to provide special foods to meet the individual needs of the student with disabilities. This responsibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Do school responsibilities under Section 504 also include providing services to students in private schools?
A: If a school has made available a free, appropriate public education to a person with a disability and the person’s parent or legal guardian chooses to place the person in a private school, Section 504 does not require the recipient to receive services in the private school unless that private school receives any federal funding. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(c)(4).
Q: If a student is identified as in need of accommodations under Section 504, and the parent decides to home-school the student, is the school still responsible for providing services in the home for the student because they are in the jurisdictional area of the school’s responsibility?
A: No. Where a school has offered an appropriate education, a school is not responsible, under Section 504, for the provision of educational services to students not enrolled in the public educational program based on the personal choice of the parent or legal guardian.
Q: If a Section 504 student is, due to his/her disability, constantly disruptive on the school bus, can the school have the student’s bus privileges removed if he/she needs the transportation to get to school? If so, must the school still provide transportation? How about when the student is a threat to the safety of other students on the bus?
A: If transportation is a related service for a student with disabilities, any incident of misconduct on the bus should be viewed in the same manner as any disciplinary incident in the school. A school cannot revoke transportation services just as a school could not suspend a student with disabilities in excess of ten (10) days or, in some cases, impose cumulative suspensions exceeding ten (10) days without taking a number of prior actions. A school can change the mode or method of providing transportation services if a student with disabilities is endangering himself or others, just as the school can place a student with disabilities in a more restrictive setting if the student becomes dangerous.