Section 504 Plans

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 are major federal legislative acts that are designed to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. The intent of these two laws is to prevent any form of discrimination against individuals with disabilities who are otherwise qualified. Section 504 applies to entities that receive federal funds, and the ADA applies to virtually every entity except churches and private clubs.

This means that school districts must afford students with disabilities with equal opportunities “to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement” as students without disabilities, thereby helping to achieve equity for all students regardless of their disability.

Section 504 deals with a much more general concept of disability than is covered under IDEA/Special Education. A 504 Plan provides accommodations that allow the student to have access to the school and programs. This type of plan covers general access issues, specific diagnosed health concerns, and physical barriers. The plan also describes what the district will do to support the student’s disability and ensure that the disability will not preclude the student’s access to school programs.

To this end, parents can contact their school nurse for inquiries related to their student’s medical 504 plan or the school’s assistant principal or student support specialist for inquiries related to their student’s academic 504 plan.