Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the law that prohibits schools from discriminating against students with disabilities. Section 504 sets minimum standards for providing related services and aids to students with disabilities that substantially limits a major life activity. All accredited Iowa schools must comply with Section 504. Section 504 applies to elementary and secondary education, preschool and adult education, and private education.
Who's Eligible: Under Section 504 law, a person with a disability meets any of the following criteria: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.
What's Required: Procedures regarding the identification, evaluation and educational placement of students with disabilities is required. School districts must incorporate a system of procedural safeguards that include notice, an opportunity for the parents or guardian to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing, an opportunity for participation by the student’s parents or guardian, representation by counsel, and a review procedure. Section 504 requires a written plan describing placement and services. Students eligible for Section 504 services are to receive related services similar to those students eligible for special education services.
On July 26, 2016, the OCR issued a Dear Colleague Letter regarding obligations to students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) under Section 504.
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Referral and Parent Notification
Referral of a Student: Any person; parent, guardian, or school personnel should refer a student for evaluation if they know or suspect, due to a disability, the student needs special education and/or related services to participate in or benefit from a district education or activity program.
Parental Rights: Linked sample
Parent Consent: Form to obtain parental consent prior to evaluation for 504 eligibility.
Planning for Evaluation
Section 504 Team: A Section 504 Team requires evaluation, eligibility and placement of students be made by a group of individuals. The Section 504 Team is responsible for receiving the Section 504 referral, securing evaluation information and determining eligibility and appropriate accommodations, related aid or services for eligible students with disabilities. The district/building team shall be composed of a group of persons who:
- are knowledgeable about the student,
- understand the meaning of evaluation data and are familiar with placement options.
This team determines eligibility. After eligibility is determined a typical team for determining accommodations and school, student and parent responsibilities could consist of:
- Section 504 coordinator
- At-risk coordinator
- An administrator
- The child’s teacher/teachers
- School Nurse
- Student (unless age inappropriate)
Evaluation: Under Section 504, school districts must conduct an evaluation in a timely manner of any student who needs or is believed to need special education or related services because of a disability. When a school is aware of a student’s disability, or has reason to suspect a student has a disability, and the student needs or is believed to need special education or related services, it would be a violation of Section 504 if the school delays or denies the evaluation.
An Evaluation under Section 504 – Determining Need Evaluations can be individually designed and can include more than one data point (broad) or one data point (narrow). Data collected and used could include, but is not limited to: Student achievement data Medical data and/or diagnosis Social interactions/discipline referrals It is the responsibility of a district to determine the scope of each student’s Section 504 evaluation. As a general rule, the scope of a student’s evaluation should be broad enough to enable the district to determine whether a student has a disability under Section 504 and, if so, what special education related services the student needs to participate in and benefit from the district’s education and/or activity program.
- Collect all data necessary to decide if the student
- Has a Physical or Mental Impairment
- That is Substantially Limiting the student in One or More Major Life Activity
- Decide, by using the district Section 504 team, whether or not to evaluate.
- Notify the parent of the district decision to evaluate or not to evaluate. (Parent Due Process Rights)
- Best practice would dictate evaluating a referred student if the district is aware the student, because of a disability, is not:
- Attending school regularly
- Advancing grade to grade
- Showing personal independence
- Taking social responsibility within his/her age group
- Best practice would also dictate evaluation if it appears special education or related services would benefit the student.
A Section 504 Team requires evaluation, eligibility and placement of students be made by a group of individuals. The Section 504 Team is responsible for receiving the Section 504 referral, securing evaluation information and determining eligibility and appropriate accommodations, related aid or services for eligible students with disabilities. The district/building team shall be composed of a group of persons who: are knowledgeable about the student, understand the meaning of evaluation data and are familiar with placement options. This team determines eligibility. After eligibility is determined a typical team for determining accommodations and school, student and parent responsibilities could consist of: Section 504 coordinator At-risk coordinator An administrator The child’s teacher/teachers School Nurse Parent Student (unless age inappropriate)
Placement and Implementation Section 504
If a Section 504 placement/plan for a student is recommended, accommodations/services to provide FAPE are required. Placement, accommodations and services must be documented, based upon a student’s evaluated needs. Decisions must ensure students with a disability are educated in the least restrictive environment.
Sample Eligibility Determination Form: This sample form could be used by teams as they work through the information gathered throughout the evaluation to document the eligibility decision.
A Section 504 Plan is a written document describing the disability and the educational/related services a district determines a student needs to receive a FAPE. The content of a Section 504 Plan is fluid and may change within a school year or between school years as a student’s needs and services change. A district must provide the services identified in a student’s Section 504 Plan.
Team Meeting Agenda Template sample 504 accommodation plan: This is a sample 504 plan template.
Review and Reevaluation
Review: It is recommended the accommodation plan/student progress be reviewed at least once annually and more often upon a review request from the parent, teachers or others. Attendees at annual reviews are generally the student’s current teachers and members of the original Section 504 Team. All relevant teachers should provide the team with information about the student's classroom performance, even if they are unable to attend the review meeting.
Sample Template of Review 504 Plan
Student Accommodation Request (SAR) Form: Required form for graduating students with a 504 plan who are attending post-secondary education.
Section 504 Periodic Review
On Demand Learning
- Search Section 504
- Available at no cost to district and AEA employees
- Section 504 Awareness: Part 1
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that protects the rights of qualified persons with disabilities. It is intended to provide access to education by accommodating students in such a way that they have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed in the classroom. Reviewed 5/27/17 RB This module provides the participants with an overview of the differences between Section 504, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and IDEA (Special Education). It also addresses how students become eligible for Section 504 accommodations and the rights and responsibilities of school districts related to Section 504.
- Section 504 Application: Part 2
- This module is a follow-up to Section 504 Awareness: Part 1. In this module the participant will learn about the requirements for a Section 504 team, the evaluation process and the development and monitoring of an accommodation plan. Reviewed 5/27/17 RB
- Section 504: An Overview for School Nurses
- School nurses have an important role to play as a member of the Section 504 team. Nurses, As the only member with a health background, we have a unique role to play in Child Find, evaluation, eligibility determination, and in developing accommodations. This training is designed to help school nurses build the skills necessary to function as a valuable member of the team.Iowa Board of Nursing Provider #94 Heartland AEA, in collaboration with AEA Learning Online, offers 1 contact hour worth of nursing license Continuing Education (for the Iowa Department of Health) for all Iowa School Nurses who successfully complete this class. This requires passing the final examination and multiple attempts are permitted.
Iowa Department of Education - Section 504
Americans with Disability ACT (ADA)
Section 504 Laws and Regulations
IDEA 504 ADA Comparison Guide
Frequently Asked Question - US Department of Education
Section 504 - Parent Guide
Section 504 - Educator Guide
Parent-Educator Guide, USDE-OCR (updated 2016).