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What is Section 504?
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).
What is an "individual with a disability"?
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.
What is an "impairment" as used under Section 504 definition?
An 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)].
What are "major life activities"?
In 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 functions 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.
Section 504 Child Find Notice
East 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.
What is the difference between Special Education and Section 504?
Visit the DREDF organization's explanation of the differences between Section 504 / Special Education