Protecting Students with Disabilities: FAQs about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

What is Section 504?teacher-classroom-high-school

Section 504 is a federal 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 (ED). Section 504 provides: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .”

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.
This resource document clarifies pertinent requirements of Section 504.

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  1. Jackie Linkstrome says

    Hi Christina, I just read your post. I understand how frustrating it can be when we can’t get the proper education for our children. Educating a child starts at home. I’m sorry but children learn from example and if the parents aren’t doing things correctly neither will a child. I just had my son proof read my letter, who proof read yours? My child just started 3rd grade. When he was 18 mos. old, I realized there was something special about him but no one believed me. His dad told me that every parent thinks their child is special in 1 way or another but he’s just like every other kid his age. Well, a mother knows her child. You can look at your child and just know when something’s wrong or somethings up or even what they want. They give you a certain look or a certain smile or may stand a particular way and usually don’t have to figure it out because you already know. I’m sure you all know just what I mean. By the time my child was 2 years old he could write his name, numbers and the alphabet. I would read to him everyday and also one more book before bed and he was beginning to recognize words. Once again I mentioned it to my husband and so to prove his point, he had picked out a book my son had never seen before. They sat down together in the chair so my husband could read it to him. Suddenly I hear him call me and he asked when I read that book to him. I told him I had never read that book to him, I just picked it up from the library the day before. ( For the life of me I can’t remember the title, but it was toddlers book about bugs) my husband was floored. He ran and got his voice recorder and set it up on the table and sat back down so this time my son could read the book to him.
    So what I’m saying is that if you have a suspicion that your child is special or different they should be tested so they can get the proper education that they need.

  2. Christina M Alvarez says

    I just had an IEP today I had my son tested at three so when he went to k grade I handed that to them and the school was on it testing him well my son is very intelligent he score average but that was not him trying but in the school eye he rated at a normal leave let me tell you there is one or two thing my son isn’t and that’s averages or normal he’s charming and everyone know him and school k grade isn’t even out I feel they are limiting him on his education he gets bored because he know the work it’s sad that there isn’t anything in place for the other side of the spectrum there programs if you under achieve but why isnt there any for over achiever why set limits on education I think education for ADHD kids is a wonderful outlet for challenging and teaching us as there caregiver s

  3. eugenie winbush says

    My son has ADHD ,and has an IEP and a 504 plan has difficulty learning and staying on task every time he does not, pay attention the teacher warns him she says he not doing his work so they say he did not follow direction after warning him over and over again if there,s no work on his paper at the end of the day he gets an infraction and then after he get so many he get iss or oss and it has happen two to three times now he,s at risk of being retained please help need advise

  4. My son is 7 and in 1st grade. He has been receiving speech and language delay classes since he was about 2 or 3 he didn’t speech sentences until 4yrs old .He is now in a school in rsp class and speech class and receives a iep we very year. This year in the meeting they told me he has a learning disability and it’s in phonological processing and attention disorder . Also that he has to go to a different school because they are no longer able to help him there! That he needs a smaller class room and that they would help me find a different school . They are trying to move him asap not even letting him finish the school year.I don’t think that’s right but I don’t know what to do .Any advice or help is wanted.

  5. If my 4 1/2 yo had an IEP and was in preschool in Massachusetts but then we moved to Washington and they are saying they reviewed the IEP and doesn’t feel he qualifies under Washington state guidelines what is the next step? They said they will do their own evaluation for an IEP but now he’s without resources to help him and can they really take that away from him when he was already enrolled?

  6. Elizabeth Conover says

    I need help my daughter has a 504 now she has been classified since preschool has had early intervention. I tried to get her retested n they told me she doesn’t qualify to be retested. Needless to say my child is in 6th grade n is failing she can’t add or subtract n doesn’t understand a lot of the work she is doing

    • Shauna Schaidt says

      This is not right my daughter has an intense IEP and as goes she has recently been called lazy due to the fact that she doesn’t follow basic instructions and want to spend my tutoring money on teaching her how to organize

  7. Looking for some advice. My daughter is going into 2nd grade next year. She is showing a lot of signs of some kind of Learning Disability but it is difficult to nail down exactly what is going on. I have a long history of LD in my family so I am fairly certain there is something that needs to be addressed.

    Our doctor wrote a letter requesting testing. The school met with us and dispite all of the warning signs is denying testing.

    What can I do? Can a force them to test? I spoke to other parents and apparently this is the standard MO for this school. The three parents I talked to each fought for years before giving up and changing school districts.

    Any advice is welcome

    • Write a letter to the principal asking for testing and request a 504 meeting. Mail this letter certified, so that he/she has to sign for it. This will ensure they receive it. Fight for your baby!

  8. lorraine perry says

    I need help concerning my son who has a learning disability and don’t know where to start. He can’t return to his school.

    • If you have a diagnosis from the pediatrician or Doctor/therapist, have them write a letter stating your son has a disability and is requesting an IEP or 504 plan. From there the school district is legally obligated through the disabilities act to reply and make accommodations. This is just the start of the process, there in comes many meetings with teachers/ principals and signing papers for your approval of these accommodations for your son. This is what I had to go through in California, I’m not sure if the laws are different in other states.

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