What You Need To Know About Section 504 - A Guide for Parents
What is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?
This is a law designed to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. It says it is against the law to discriminate against people with disabilities.
How does Section 504 define a student with a disability?
A student must have:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or major bodily functions.
- Students with a record of impairment or who are regarded as impaired are protected from discrimination, but do not receive supports.
Who can refer my child for a Section 504 evaluation?
- YOU, the parent/guardian
- A teacher
- A principal or other staff member
If you think your child has a Section 504 disability, contact your child’s school and speak with the Section 504 Contact.
What signs may indicate my child needs a Section 504 evaluation?
If you think your child has a physical or mental impairment, along with one or more of these warning signs, then, you may want to ask for a Section 504 evaluation:
- Your child gets into a lot of trouble at school
- Your child sees a therapist or counselor outside of school
- You notice a sudden change in your child’s typical grades or behavior
- Your child was tested for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Services, but did not qualify
- Your child has been suspended multiple times or may be expelled
- Your child has a chronic health issue that impacts going to school
- Your child had a 504 plan from another county or state
- Your child used to get special education services through ESE, but no longer does
What is a Section 504 evaluation?
You must give permission in writing in order for your child to be evaluated for Section 504. The evaluation will look at information from multiple sources such as: academic tests, grades, information from your doctor, teacher reports, discipline referrals, parent input and any other useful information. Formal testing is usually not needed.
Who determines eligibility?
A Section 504 Team will meet and decide if your child is eligible for Section 504. The team includes at least 2 employees of Polk County Public Schools. You will be invited to the team meeting. If your child is eligible for discrimination protections, the team will then decide if your child also needs support and accommodations. Not all students who are eligible under Section 504 need a support plan.
What are accommodations?
Accommodations are used to meet the individual needs of your child. They make sure your child has access to the same education as students without disabilities. The purpose of accommodations is to “level the playing field”. Accommodations cannot be used to give your child an advantage over other students or to change the curriculum.
What can a Section 504 plan provide to my child?
Accommodations such as:
- Note-taking assistance
- Health plans
- Preferential seating
- Shortened assignments
- Behavior plans
- A peer tutor/helper
- Changes to recess or P.E.
- Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
- Protections from discrimination
- John M. McKay Scholarship Program
- Equal access
Once your child is referred for a Section 504 evaluation, you will receive written information explaining your rights as a parent. These procedural safeguards include:
- Notice of meetings or change in supports
- An opportunity for you to examine relevant records
- An opportunity to participate in an impartial hearing and be represented by counsel if you wish
- A review procedure to discuss problems or concerns
Who do I contact for more information?
If you think your child has a physical or mental impairment that impacts a major life activity or major bodily function, you should call your child’s school and ask to speak with the Section 504 Contact.
Director -Student Services & Section 504
Phone: (863) 535-5975