504 Plans

As a parent, if you believe there might be a disability, please reach out to your child’s crew teacher or our 504 coordinator by contacting the school, or by email at michelled@exploris.org. If a teacher or intervention team suspects a possible disability, the school may also initiate a 504 meeting with parents.

Many students have conditions or disorders that are not readily apparent to others. They may include conditions such as specific learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy and allergies. Hidden disabilities such as low vision, poor hearing, heart disease or chronic illness may not be obvious, but if the disabilities are not properly diagnosed and they substantially limit that child’s ability to receive an appropriate education as defined by Section 504, they may be considered to have an “impairment” under Section 504 standards. As a result, these students, regardless of their intelligence, will be unable to fully demonstrate their ability or attain educational benefits equal to that of non-disabled students (The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency. It is a civil rights legislation for persons with disabilities, designed to prevent any form of discrimination based on disabilities, who are otherwise qualified or protected. For more information click here. If a student qualifies, then a 504 plan is created.

A Section 504 Plan is a legal document falling under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is designed to plan individualized services to assist students with disabilities who are in a regular education setting. A 504 Plan is not an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as is required for exceptional students. However, if the student no longer needs special instruction and is moving to a regular education placement s/he could be placed under a 504 Plan.

How Does an Individual Qualify as Disabled Under Section 504?

There is no specific mention of learning disabilities in Section 504, however, the law defines a person as disabled if he or she:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  • Has a record of such an impairment, or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment. 28 CFR Sec. 36.104

Learning, speaking, seeing, walking, and hearing among others listed in The Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act are all considered major life activities. As a general rule, if a child is eligible for services under IDEA,(Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) he or she qualifies for protection under Section 504. However, not all students covered by Section 504 are eligible for IDEA-related services. Section 504 has a broader definition of “disability” as compared to the disabilities covered under IDEA and so it pertains to many more people.

Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE means providing 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.

Resources for Section 504

What are my rights as a parent under Section 504?