Section 504

World with handsThe Concord School District implements Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 based on federal, state and local school district policies and procedures. If you suspect your child is eligible for a Section 504 Plan, please contact your child’s school guidance counselor who can assist you in the Section 504 process. To assist you in better understanding Section 504, the following is provided for your consideration and review.

What is 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 in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities,public or private, that receive federal financial assistance. The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with advisability 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 non-disabled students are met. Section 504 and the ADA protect qualified individuals with disabilities.

An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing,hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. Under Section 504and the ADA, a person is a qualified individual with a disability if he or she meets the essential requirements for receipt of services or benefits, or participation in the programs or activities of a covered entity. The question of whether a particular condition is a disability within the meaning of Section 504 and the ADA is determined on a case-by-case basis.

How does an individual qualify as disabled under Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 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

Under the regulation, learning, reading, thinking and concentrating among others listed in the ADAAA are all considered major life activities.  As a general rule, if a child is eligible for services under IDEA, 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 much broader definitions of disability and so it pertains to many more people.

What does an evaluation involve?
For school-age children, if parents (or guardians) believe their child should qualify for protections under Section 504, they should contact their child's school about an evaluation. The law mandates that an evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools that will accurately demonstrate the child's specific areas of educational need.The evaluation process should also consider various other factors, such as teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, behavior and any independent evaluations. Evaluation and service decisions are made by a multi-disciplinary team of people familiar with the child who understands the means of evaluation and the special service options. Section 504 requires the use of evaluation procedures that ensure that a child is not misclassified, unnecessarily labeled as having a disability or incorrectly placed. The child must be re-evaluated periodically.

It is unlawful to consider the child's use of ‘mitigating measures in determining eligibility under Section 504. In other words, students cannot be penalized for the use of coping strategies or adaptive behaviors when being evaluated under Section 504.

What happens if a child is eligible for services under Section 504?
If a child is considered disabled under Section 504, school district personnel must create a Section 504 plan. If that child is also eligible for services under IDEA, then in most cases the Individualized Education Program (IEP) will take the place of a Section 504 plan. Some school districts use a separate form.

In order to determine what kind of services would be most appropriate for a child, a team of regular and special education teachers, as well as the school principal, will meet to consider the child's disability, how it affects the child's education and what services would be most helpful. Parents (or guardians) should be present for all planning sessions regarding their child.

What services are available under Section 504?Hands with cards
Section 504 clearly states that a free and appropriate education must be made available to all qualified students with disabilities. The educational needs of students with disabilities must be met as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities.

A child may be placed in regular education classes with accommodations such as a computer or other technology, extended time for test taking or special services such as after-school tutoring.Modifications in academic requirements and expectations may also be considered. In each case, the individual educational needs of the child should be addressed in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible.

What is the role of a parent under Section 504?
Under Section 504, a child's school district must receive permission from a parent (or guardian) to evaluate the child. Parents should also ask to participate in all aspects of planning and decision-making for the child's education.

Once a child has been evaluated the school must notify the parents(or guardians) about the results and any decisions that are made. If the parents disagree with any decisions the child's school makes, both the parents and the school have the right to use mediation to resolve any differences of opinion.

Is there a complaint process under Section 504?
Any individual who believes that he or she or a specific individual or class of individuals has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, in a health or human service program or activity conducted by a covered entity, may file a complaint with OCR. Complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination. OCR may extend the 180-day deadline if you can show"good cause." Include the following information in your written complaint, or request a Discrimination Complaint Form from the Boston OCR Regional office (complaints must be signed by the complainant or an authorized representative).

  • Your name, address, and telephone number.
  • Name and address of the entity you believe discriminated against you.
  • How, why, and when you believe you were discriminated against.
  • Any other relevant information.

Any formal complaints must be sent to:

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Government Center
J.F.Kennedy Federal Building - Room 1875
Boston, MA 02203
Customer Response Center: (800) 368-1019
Fax: (202) 619-3818
TDD: (800) 537-7697

Where can you receive more information about Section 504?

Bob Belmont
Director of Student Services
Concord School District
38 Liberty Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 225-0811

The New Hampshire Department of Education will respond to questions concerning Section 504.

Tina Greco
Section 504 Coordinator
21 South Fruit Street Suite 20
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-3993

For information on 504s from the US Department of Education:

Your rights under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Office of Civil Rights):

What do the Section 504 forms look like?
For your understanding, please consider reviewing the documents in the FORMS folder located in the Files section below that detail the Section 504 Process in the Concord School District.

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