Section 504 Documents and Guidelines : Hudson Public Schools

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law designed to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It applies to programs and entities that receive federal financial assistance. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States,..., shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Who is covered by Section 504?

Section 504 generally covers "qualified" persons with disabilities. The coverage of Section 504 is broader than the coverage under IDEA. Any child eligible for special education under IDEA should be covered under 504. The converse, however, is not true -- not all children protected by 504 are in need of or entitled to special education.

 What does Section 504 do for disabled students?

Section 504 requires a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction.

What obligations do schools have under Section 504?

·         Identify students covered under the law and notify students and parents of the school’s obligation under the law.

·         A school must provide a free and appropriate public education. The child’s educational program must be designed to meet the child’s individual education needs. The quality of the services provided to a child with a disability must be equal to the services provided to non-disabled children.

  • A school must place a child in the regular educational environment unless the school demonstrates that the education of the child in the regular environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
  • A school must ensure that a disabled child participates, to the maximum extent appropriate to the child’s needs, in non-academic and extracurricular services and activities with non-disabled persons.
  • A school must conduct evaluations of children who need, or are believed to need, special education or related services, before taking any action with respect to initial placement of the child in regular or special education and any subsequent significant change in placement.
  • In making placement decisions, a school must draw upon information from a variety of sources, and ensure that placement decisions are made by a group of persons with knowledge about the child, the meaning of evaluation data, and placement options.

What is a Section 504 plan?

  • Under Section 504 the school district must provide qualified students with a free appropriate public education that is designed to meet individual educational needs of disabled persons. A 504 plan is the document which references the services and/or accommodations to be provided to the student.

 How is a 504 Plan developed?

  • A Section 504 should be developed in much the same way that an IEP is developed. The process begins with identification and appropriate evaluation. After the evaluation(s), a team should be assembled with persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning and significance of the evaluation data, and placement options in order to consider the evaluations, determine eligibility, and, if appropriate, develop the 504 plan. The 504 plan serves as documentation of the services and/or accommodations needed for the student to participate in school.

 What if a parent thinks that the school is not meeting its obligations under Section 504?

  • Schools must have grievance procedures that incorporate appropriate due process standards. The procedures should be designed for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. The Hudson Public Schools grievance procedure is described in the Hudson Public Schools’ Section 504 Policy and Procedure Guidelines. The grievance procedure is available at page 10 of this manual and is available from each school office.
  • Parents can also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Program Quality Assurance, or the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals.
  • Schools need to provide notice to parents of their rights, of the opportunity to examine records, of the opportunity to file a grievance with the District’s 504 Coordinator and of the opportunity to an impartial hearing at the the BSEA. The District’s grievance procedure is described on page 10 of this manual.
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