Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Jamie Edward Ciofalo, Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Section 504 District Coordinator jciofalo@epsd.org

School Section 504 Coordinators

DMHS/A@E 

Janis E. Dismus Middle School

McCloud Elementary

Grieco Elementary D.A. Quarles Early Childhood Center

Mr.Richard Suchanski

rsuchanski@epsd.org

Mrs. Laura Mathieu

lmathieu@epsd.org

Mr. David Murphy

dmurphy@epsd.org

Mr. Abraham Alarcon

aalarcon@epsd.org

Mrs. Gina Leonard-Edone

gleonardedone@epsd.org

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

What services are available for students with disabilities under Section 504?

Section 504 requires recipients to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met. An appropriate education for a student with a disability under the Section 504 regulations could consist of education in regular classrooms, education in regular classes with supplementary services, and/or special education and related services.

STUDENTS PROTECTED UNDER SECTION 504

Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance. 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 that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

 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 the basis of an individual inquiry.

 The Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i) 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 mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

 The regulatory provision does not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list.

 Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(ii), include functions such as:

  • caring for one's self,
  • performing manual tasks,
  • walking,
  • seeing,
  • hearing,
  • speaking,
  • breathing,
  • learning,
  • and working.

This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504. 

In the Amendments Act, Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including:

  • eating,
  • sleeping,
  • standing,
  • lifting,
  • bending,
  • reading,
  • concentrating,
  • thinking,
  • and communicating. 

 Congress also provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. 

 Is attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a recognized disability under Section 504?

Yes.  The Department of Education has acknowledged that ADD and ADHD are impairments that can be the basis of eligibility under either Section 504 or IDEA. The key to eligibility under 504 is whether the student’s ADD or ADHD is sufficiently severe that it substantially limits a major life activity, e.g. learning.

Does a physician’s diagnosis of ADD/ADHD automatically result in a student being eligible for Section 504?

No.  A physician’s diagnosis alone does not automatically result in eligibility for programs or services under Section 504.   A physician’s diagnosis should be considered as one piece of the evidence when evaluating the child. 

Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is that student always entitled to such services?

Yes, as long as the student remains eligible. The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the regulatory definition of a person with a disability. If a recipient school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.