Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (page 2)
Under IDEA, a public school student must be receiving special education in order to receive related services. The only exception to this is if the related service needed by the child is considered special education rather than a related service under State standards [§300.7(a)(2)(ii)]. However, as mentioned in Part I of this News Digest, there is another Federal law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, that applies to IDEAeligible students and in some cases may provide protections for a student who is ineligible for services under IDEA. A student with a disability who does not need special education but who needs a related services may be eligible for that services under Section 504.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is a civil rights law that prohibits recipients of Federal funds from discriminating on the basis of disability. This law applies to, among other entities, public elementary and secondary school districts. Under Section 504 regulations, a person with a “disability” (referred to in the regulation as “handicapped person”) is a person who has a physical or mental 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 [34 CFR §104.3(j)(1)].
To ascertain whether a student is protected by Section 504, an evaluation would need to be conducted to determine whether he or she is a “handicapped person” within the meaning of Section 504. Public elementary and secondary school districts receiving Federal financial assistance are required by Section 504 regulations to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities in their jurisdiction [34 CFR §104.33(a)]. A free appropriate public education under Section 504 consists of “regular or special education and related aids and services that...are designed to meet individual educational needs of handicapped persons as adequately as the needs of nonhandicapped persons are met” and are provided in accordance with Section 504 requirements relevant to educational setting, evaluation and placement, and procedural safeguards [34 CFR §104.33(b)].
Decisions about what educational and related services are appropriate for a child under Section 504 must be made by a placement group including persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of evaluation data, and placement options [34 CFR §104.35(c)]. The placement group decides whether the child needs regular or special education and related aids and services (34 CFR §104.35). Section 504 also applies to recipients of Federal financial assistance that operate private elementary and secondary education programs. These recipients may not, on the basis of handicap, exclude a qualified handicapped person from such programs, if the person can, with minor adjustments, be provided an appropriate education within the recipient’s program [34 CFR §104.39(a)].
Section 504 is enforced by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Parents and professionals interested in more information about how Section 504 affects the provision of educational and related services to qualified persons with disabilities should contact the OCR enforcement office that serves their state. If you need assistance identifying the regional office nearest you, or would like more information about Section 504 in general, please contact NICHCY.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Dissemination Center.
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