• '504' In Our Schools

    Schools are required to identify all students with disabilities and to provide them with a free appropriate public education. 

    1. What is '504'?

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was originally developed to prohibit discrimination against persons with a disability in any program receiving federal assistance.  Public and private schools which receive federal funds are required to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.

    2. What is the '504' process?

    A faculty member or parent recognizes that a student is having difficulty in school.  After consultation between home/school a “Request for Psychological Services” packet is completed by the Guidance Counselor (grades 6-12) or other faculty member.  The school staff and outside professionals evaluate the student’s abilities.  If the student appears to meet the criteria, a '504 Accommodation Plan' is developed.

    3. Who completes the evaluation?

    The evaluation must be tailored for the individual.  School professionals who may evaluate, include but are not limited to: school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, physician, school administrator, guidance counselor, teachers (special education, regular education, reading, etc.), and service providers (Speech/Language Therapist, Audiologist, Physical Therapist Occupational Therapist).  An outside evaluation/diagnosis may also be considered.

    4. What is the eligibility criteria?

    The student:

    • has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; 
    • has a record of such an impairment;
    • or is regarded as having such an impairment. 

    5. What is a “major life activity?”

    Major life activities include but are not limited to:

    • caring for one’s self
    • performing manual tasks
    • walking
    • seeing
    • hearing
    • speaking
    • breathing
    • working
    • learning 

    6. Why was my child considered for evaluation under Section '504'?

    Children who have obvious indicators of a “substantial impairment” are frequently targeted for a '504' evaluation.  These indicators may include but are not limited to:

    • a pattern of discipline problems resulting in suspensions/expulsions
    • behaviors which interfere with academic success
    • retention of a student
    • receipt of failing grades over consecutive grading periods
    • difficulty with academic material despite consistent effort
    • existence of a chronic health condition
    • at-risk students 

    7. What is a '504 Accommodation Plan'?

    The written plan may include classroom and test accommodations, as well as related aids and services (such as speech, counseling, etc.).  The intent is for school and classroom modification to the extent that the student is not being discriminated against due to his/her impairment.  Accommodations may be offered “as needed.”

    8. Who sees the '504 Accommodation Plan'?

    All teachers and support staff who work with the student receive a copy and are responsible for its implementation.  The plan becomes part of the student’s confidential record and follows the student to any school in the U.S.

    9. What is the parent’s role?

    Parents give consent for the initial evaluation and must be given notice of a meeting to develop a '504' plan.  Parental agreement is not necessary to implement a '504'.  The parent must be informed of re-evaluation.

    10. How can the '504' be changed?

    A meeting to review/revise the '504' can be held at the request of the student, parent, or school staff.  Plans must be reviewed “periodically”, generally on an annual basis.

    '504' vs. Special Education

    Both require that a student receive a “Free & Appropriate Public Education.” 

    Special Education is special education service with accommodations. 

    '504' is general education with accommodations. 



    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is civil rights law which protects against discrimination on the basis of disability. 

    IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is a federal funding statute to provide financial aid to ensure services for disabled children. 



    An accommodation plan under Section 504 indicates the student's program is comparable to non-handicapped students with “reasonable accommodations.”

    IDEA means a specially designed program (IEP) to provide “educational benefit.” 



    • 504 - “periodic”
    • IDEA - annual 



    • 504 – “periodic”
    • IDEA – at least every three years (triennial) 


    If you have any questions, please call the Office of Special Education at: