Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against disabled persons who may participate in, or receive benefits from, programs receiving federal financial assistance (in our case, public schools). Section 504 ensures that eligible students with a disability receive equal access to services that are provided to non-disabled students and provides protection from discrimination based on the disability.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as anyone who:
1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
2. Has a record of such impairment, or
3. Is regarded as having such an impairment
Limitation of Life Activities
For a student to qualify under Section 504, their physical or mental impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Examples of life activities that may be substantially limited include, but are not limited to:
- Bodily functions/systems
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - Pre-Meeting
An evaluation under Section 504 is the collecting, gathering, and evaluation of the student's individual data. The Section 504 individualized evaluation for eligibility begins with the parent/guardian signing a Notice and Consent for Evaluation. Only after consent has been given for the 504 Evaluation can the gathering of the data begin.
Upon receipt of the signed Notice and Consent for Evaluation, the Campus 504 Coordinator gathers data from the child's:
- Physician, if applicable
- Work samples
- Achievement data
- Educational evaluations/assessments, if applicable
- Any other pertinent information
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - 504 Committee
Once the evaluation data has been gathered, the Campus 504 Coordinator will convene a 504 committee to evaluate the information.
By law, a 504 committee must consist of the following persons that are knowledgeable about:
1) The student
2) The evaluation data (i.e., if the suspected disability is a medical condition, the nurse would be most appropriate to review and make determinations regarding the evaluation data)
3) Placement on the campus (i.e., necessary aids, services, or schedules that can be provided in order to accommodate the student's diability and provide equal access to that of his/her general education peers)
By following the above guidelines, the committee will consist of at least three people. The parent/guardian(s) and student can only fulfill the category of "knowledgeable about the student," therefore, there must be at least two other campus personnel in the meeting. While the parent is not a required member of the 504 committee, it is Plano ISD's best practice to involve the parent to the greatest extent possible.
Individual Evaluation for Section 504 Eligibility - Protections and Services
During the initial evaluation meeting, the 504 committee will review the evaluation data to determine if the student is considered disabled under Section 504. If the committee determines that the student does meet the definition of disabled by demonstrating a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, then the student is eligible for Section 504 protections. Section 504 protections guarantee that, to the greatest extent possible, the student will have equal access to their general education as that of their peers.
The 504 committee then determines if, based upon the child's disability, the child is eligible for services, or accommodations, under Section 504 in order to equalize access. Accommodations are meant to equalize access and not maximize grade potential or alter curriculum.
504 Plan - Distribution
Once the 504 committee has determined that a student is eligible for Section 504 protections and, if applicable, services, then the Campus 504 Coordinator will distribute the 504 plan to the appropriate campus personnel responsible for ensuring the Individualized Accommodation Plan is followed. This may include one or more of the following:
- Classroom teacher(s)
- Grade level teachers that may work with or supervise the student during the day
- Specials/Electives teachers
- Campus counselor
- Campus nurse
- Campus administrator(s)
- Any other applicable campus personnel that may be involved in ensuring equal access
Any campus personnel that receives the Individualized Accommodation Plan will sign a Receipt of Accommodation Plan, stating that they have received the plan and will follow it to the greatest extent possible.
504 Plan - Progress Monitoring
After distribution of the Individual Accommodation Plan, the 504 Campus Coordinator will monitor the student's attendance, academic, and behavioral performance at a minimum every grading period to ensure that the accommodations are in place and are equalizing access to that of the student's general education peers.
If the coordinator becomes aware of a lack of expected progress, they may reach out to the student, his/her teacher(s), and/or his/her parent/guardian(s) in order to determine the reasoning for the lack of expected progress. While a lack of expected progress for a student served in Section 504 is not always based on the actual 504 plan, it is important to ensure equal access.
504 Plan - Meetings
By law, a 504 committee must meet every three years to re-evaluate the student's eligibility under Section 504. This meeting will be held in a similar fashion as the initial evaluation, with the gathering of data and a committee reviewing the gathered data.
Outside of the three year re-evaluation, the Individual Accommodation Plan may be managed in one or more of the following ways:
- Snapshot review - utilized within the three year re-evaluation timeframe if the student is making expected progress and has no need for changes to accommodations
- Amendment - utilized to update one or two accommodations without the need for a formal meeting
- Review - utilized if the 504 committee meets within the same school year as a formal meeting. The committee may discuss and update current accommodations.
A formal 504 meeting can be held at any time per parent or campus request, although the legal obligation is to re-evaluate every three years.
For questions regarding Section 504, please utilize the Section 504 Request for More Information form or find your Campus 504 Coordinator's contact information in the dropdown.
* Please know that it may take up to 72 hours (three school days) to respond.
Campus 504 Coordinator Search