Section 504 Services and Supports
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
- have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
- have a record of such an impairment; or
- be regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 requires Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students 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.
What is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on an individual basis by a team of people familiar with the student. Section 504 defines a physical or mental impairment as:
- “Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems:
neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
- Any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.”
What is a major life activity?
Major life activities, as defined in Section 504 include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, reading, listening, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Several “major bodily functions” are also considered to be life activities, including the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
Determining Eligibility for a Section 504 Plan
While no formalized assessments are required, in order to determine if a student has a disability, oftentimes some sort of assessment or rating scales must be completed. In other situations, the district may review reports provided to them by private providers, though the recommendations of private providers are only required to be considered. Your student’s section 504 team (most often made up of a school administrator, a classroom teacher, a school psychologist and/ or social worker and other professionals as necessary) often look at past performance on standardized assessments (MAP, STAR, PARCC, CogAT), standards based report cards, teacher’s reports, information from parents/guardians, classroom observations, discipline reports, attendance records, health records and adaptive behavior information. Our school team is required to consider information from a variety of sources and a single source of information (such as a doctor’s recommendations) cannot be the only information considered. Schools must be able to assure that all information submitted is documented and considered.
Services and Supports Under Section 504
If a team of people at the school determines that a child is eligible for services and supports under Section 504, then a 504 Plan will be developed. The plan will consist of a list of services, accommodations, and supports that will allow the student to participate in the general education program with minimal impact from a disability. The purpose of the plan is to ensure the student receiving the services is able to have the same access to the educational program that a similarly situated student without a disability would. Section 504 plans do not provide supports to maximize a child’s potential as this is the role of the general education team.
The plan will be distributed to all of the teachers and other professionals who come into contact with a child during the school day and it is reviewed at least annually. In many cases, it is reviewed more often than this and parents/guardians have the right to call for a review of their student’s 504 Plan as often as necessary.
If you believe that your child requires services under Section 504, please contact your child’s classroom teacher. If you have general questions about Section 504, please contact Dr. Kevin Rubenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-234-9400.