The Purpose of Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. The law applies to all agencies that receives public federal funds, including public schools. This anti-discrimination law requires that school districts meet the educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as nondisabled students. Section 504 has two main purposes. One is about removing barriers for students with disabilities in K–12 public schools. The other is about protecting kids and adults with disabilities from discrimination in school settings and beyond.
Protections Under Section 504: Who’s Eligible
Section 504 is very broad in who it covers. It protects any student who has “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Life activities can include everyday activities like eating, sleeping and walking. But they can also include learning, concentrating, thinking and communicating.
Most kids with learning and attention issues are protected by Section 504. The law can cover students with learning disabilities like dyslexia, and those with ADHD, anxiety and many other challenges.
To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
1. have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
2. have a record of such impairment; or
3. be regarded as having such impairment.
Non-discrimination requirements apply to all three categories.
Making a referral: Who to contact
Section 504 identification and services are provided in each school building in the district. For further information or to make a referral, please contact the counselor at your school.
For more information, visit DREDF.org