Parent's guide for Section 504
What is Section 504?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly known in the schools as “Section 504,” is a federal law passed by the United States Congress with the purpose of prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons who may participate in, or receive benefits from, programs receiving federal financial assistance. In the public schools specifically, 504 applies to ensure that eligible disabled students are provided with educational benefits and opportunities equal to those provided to nondisabled students.
Under 504, a student is considered “disabled” if he or she suffers from a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Section 504 also protects students with a record of an impairment, or who are regarded as having an impairment from discrimination on the basis of disability. Students can be considered disabled, and can receive services under 504, including regular or special education and related aids and services, even if they do not qualify for, or receive, special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
How can Section 504 benefit my child?
Under 504, your child has the right to an appropriate education designed to meet his or her educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. Your child has the right to services, facilities, and activities comparable to those provided to non-disabled students Section 504 allows you to create a plan for your student that will give him/her full access to the school campus and any school sponsored events.
What are some accommodations that may be written in my child’s plan?
- Be provided with highlighted text
- Books on tape
- Extra time to complete assignments
- Give work in smaller portions
- Keyboarding instead of handwriting
- Opportunity to respond orally
- Counseling services
- Opportunity to leave the class for cool down period
- Private signal if student is off task or needs to leave the room quickly
- Seat near teacher
- Short breaks
- Assistance in the hallways
- Bathroom breaks
- Elevator pass
- Release from Physical Education (PE)
- Water as often as needed
- Wear a scarf or a hat
How do I request these services for my child?
- The parent can make their request for services known in writing, or the child’s teacher can make a referral to the counselor or 504 coordinator.
- A notice of referral is sent to the parent if the request is teacher initiated.
- A meeting is held to discuss the referral and decide if further evaluation is needed. If further evaluation is needed, the parent must sign consents and the school has 50 days to complete the evaluation and hold a meeting to discuss the findings. If no further evaluation is needed, the committee may proceed with creating a plan.
- A 504 eligibility determination form is completed and the team’s decision is documented. If your child is not eligible, the school must state the reason in writing. If your child is eligible, then the 504 plan is created and is implemented immediately.
- The 504 plan is reviewed annually. If any evaluations were necessary, a re-evaluation will take place every 3 years.
What if I disagree with the decision of the 504 committee?
You have the right to examine relevant documents and records regarding your child (generally documents relating to identification, evaluation, and placement of your child under 504).
You have the right to an impartial due process hearing if you wish to contest any action of the District with regard to your child’s identification, evaluation, or placement under 504. You have the right to participate personally at the hearing, and to be represented by an attorney, if you wish to hire one.
If you wish to contest an action taken by the 504 Committee by means of an impartial due process hearing, you must submit a Notice of Appeal or a Request for Hearing to the District's 504 Coordinator. In Texas, you must submit the required notice or request in writing within one year of the action or omission giving rise to your complaint. Failure to make a timely request will result in the loss of your opportunity to pursue a due process hearing on that action or omission.
You also have a right to present a grievance or complaint through the District’s local grievance process. The District will investigate the situation, take into account the nature of the complaint and all necessary factors, and respond appropriately to you within a reasonable time. Parents may contact the District’s Section 504 Coordinator for more information about the District’s grievance process.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) monitors this federal law. If you wish to file a complaint, you may contact the Region VI Office or go to their website: www.ed.gov/offices/OCR.
Region VI Dallas Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, Texas 75201-6810