Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973Section 504 is a non-discrimination civil rights law that prohibits agencies that receive Federal funding from discriminating against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability. Section 504 includes students with disabilities who qualify for Special Education services under the Individuals with disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but also includes protections for other disabilities such as dyslexia, diabetes, food allergies, and others which do not fall under the IDEA regulations.
What the Section 504 law says:
"No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his or her handicap, 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...." 29 U.S.C. §794(a).
Section 504 requires the schools to:
- Identify and notify qualified disabled students of their rights and procedural safeguards
- Evaluate students to determine §504 eligibility
- Provide appropriate classroom accommodations to eligible students
- Meet the needs of eligible disabled students as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students
- Provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE)
- Afford eligible disabled students with equal opportunities to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities to the same extent as non-disabled students
Who qualifies under Section 504?
Students of the Fort Bend Independent School District between the ages of three and twenty-two years of age, who meet the following definition of disability:
- Has a physical or mental impairment, which 2) substantially limits the student in one or more major life activities, without consideration of the mitigating measure(s) which might be used to ameliorate the negative effects of the student's disability, and which substantially limits an activity that is central to regular life.
- Those who have a record of impairment (anti-discrimination prong, only); or
- Those who are regarded as having such an impairment (anti-discrimination prong, only)
"Placement" of students in Section 504 (§504) usually refers to the regular education classroom with individually planned accommodations by the Campus §504 Committee. §504 is not a statute of "reduced academic expectations or curriculum," but rather provides for individualized accommodations for students as related to the student's disability, which are needed in the regular classroom and are recommended by the student's campus §504 Committee.
RIGHT TO IMPARTIAL HEARING
A parent with a concern or complaint about the District’s actions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student with a disability shall have the right to an impartial hearing.
A parent shall be provided written notice of the due process right to an impartial hearing upon consent for evaluation for 504 services. Information about the due process right to an impartial hearing is available upon request from the ADA Coordinator for the District [See FB Exhibit] and on the District’s website.
The impartial hearing shall be conducted by a person who is knowledgeable about Section 504 issues and who is not employed by the District or related to a member of the Board in a degree that would be prohibited under the nepotism statute [see DBE]. The impartial hearing officer is not required to be an attorney. The District and the parent shall be entitled to legal representation at the impartial hearing.
If you have any questions about Section 504 or eligibility, please call your student's Counselor or the campus §504 Coordinator at your student's school. You may also call the District 504 Coordinator Ronje Gonzales for additional information (281-634-1242).