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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

General Information

Student Information
  • Eligible for protection under Section 504 when he or she “(i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more… major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment.”
    • Physical or mental impairment – [a]ny physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine”; or “[a]ny mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities”
    • Major life activity – “functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working” (italics added)
    • Substantially limits – determined by OCR to be defined by the local education agency
  • Allows for a broad spectrum of disabling conditions
  • Eligible students may or may not need special education services
  • Provides 504 plan, which includes specific details of student’s needs and services, for eligible students
School Information
  • All school districts with 15 or more employees must appoint a Section 504 coordinator to ensure the district is in compliance with the Act.
  • A student under 504 may not be suspended for more than ten days if the behavior is a manifestation of his or her disability.
  • Does not require written notice to parents regarding intent to evaluate a child nor require consent prior to evaluation
Violation Information
  • The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for enforcement. Complaints are filed here.
  • Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged infraction.
  • All programs within a local or state agency may lose federal funding if one program within the agency is found guilty of discrimination under 504.