Section 504 Law / 504 Plans

Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. This law applies to public elementary and secondary schools, among other entities. Any organization receiving federal financial assistance is forbidden from denying an individual's right to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services. Each school district should have a 504 Procedures Guide or Policy Manual available for families and a staff designated as the 504 Coordinator.

Learn More at the U.S. Department of Education

Free and Appropriate Public Education for Students with Disabilities: Requirements Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including federal funds. Section 504 provides that: "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 . . ."

Learn More from the U.S. Department of Education

Comparison of Section 504 and IDEA

This chart outlines Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and its comparison to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

All school-age children with disabilities who are eligible for a 504 or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE requires students with disabilities receive the services they need to benefit from their education.

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School Accommodations and Modifications: A Parent and Child Checklist

It is important to identify, discuss, and include accommodations and modifications necessary to meet the specific needs of a student in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students who receive services under a 504 Plan also need the same kind of individual attention to their plans for accommodations and modifications. The following checklist might be a good starting point for you and your child to think about his or her individual needs to include in the IEP or 504 Plan.

Read the PACER Center PDF

How to File a Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

This brief 5 minute YouTube Video from the U.S. Department of Education summarizes how to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

Watch the U.S. Department of Education's YouTube Video

How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights

Educational institutions have a responsibility to protect every student's right to learn in a safe environment free from unlawful discrimination and to prevent unjust deprivations of that right. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

Learn More at the U.S. Department of Education

Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

View the Ask Resource Webpage

Sample Letter - Requesting a 504

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act an individual with a disability is defined as a person who: 1)has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; 2)has a record of such an impairment or 3)is regarded as having such an impairment. In schools, Section 504 takes shape in the form of a plan for how a school will support a student with a disability and remove barriers to learning. The goal of a 504 plan is to give the student equal access at school and school activities.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

This resource from the US Department of Education is intended to guide and help parents of students with disabilities understand the obligations imposed under Section 504. In particular, the resource guide summarizes key requirements of Section 504, and aims to increase understanding of these requirements for both parents and members of the school community alike

View the US Department of Education's PDF