Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. These regulations require identification, evaluation, and provision of appropriate services and procedural safeguards.
All individuals who are disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are also considered to be disabled and therefore protected under Section 504. With respect to most students with disabilities, many aspects of the Section 504 regulation concerning FAPE parallel the requirements of the IDEA and state law. By fulfilling responsibilities under the IDEA and state law, a district is also meeting the standards of the Section 504 regulations. However, there are some students who are not eligible for IDEA services, but are deemed disabled under Section 504.
If a district has reason to believe that, because of a disability as defined under Section 504, a student needs either special accommodations or related services in the regular setting in order to participate in the school program, the district must develop and implement a plan for the delivery of all needed services. These individuals require a response from the regular education staff and curriculum.
To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504. In the Amendments Act of 2008, Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Congress also provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
It is the policy of Florence 1 Schools to provide a free and appropriate public education to each student with a disability. It is the intention of the District to ensure that students who are disabled within the definition of Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate educational accommodations and services.
For more information about the 504 process in Florence 1 Schools, please contact the 504 Plan Coordinator at your school.