Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education to all children regardless of the nature or severity of their disability. Specifically, 29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a) states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, p. 394).
In order to be considered
to have a disability, an individual still must: (a) have a physical or
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities; (b) have a record of such an impairment; or (c) be regarded
as having such an impairment.
impairment as used in Section 504 may include any disability, long-term
illness, or various disorder that “substantially” reduces or lessens a
student’s ability to access learning in the educational setting because
of a learning-, behavior- or health-related condition. [“It should be
emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a
disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that
it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life
activities” (Appendix A to Part 104, #3)].
2008 Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act
of 2008 (ADAAA), which took effect in January 2009. The new ADAAA of
2008 expanded and changed the definition of major life activities as
well as major bodily function to include two non-exhaustive lists. The
major life activities have been expanded from caring for oneself,
performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing,
learning, and working, to also include eating, sleeping, standing,
lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.
The major bodily functions definition now includes functions of the
immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder,
respiratory, neurological, brain, circulatory, endocrine, special sense
organs, speech organs, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions.
Grand Rapids Public Schools has a duty to locate, evaluate and identify
any child residing in the District who qualifies for Section 504
accommodations or services. Children eligible for Section 504
accommodations or services include those children who have a physical or
mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. If
you suspect your child has a disability and may require Section 504
accommodations, or if you would like additional information, please
contact your child's teacher or the District’s Section 504 Coordinator,
Dr. Caroline Breault-Cannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-235-7552.