Section 504 and Students with Disabilities
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly called “Section 504,” is a federal law that protects students from discrimination based on disability. This law applies to all programs and activities that receive funding from the federal government—including Washington public schools.
Section 504 Regulations | Chapter 28A.642 RCW | Chapter 392-190 WAC
Equal Opportunities and Benefits
State law also protects students from disability discrimination in public schools. These laws make sure that students with disabilities have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to students without disabilities. To be protected by these laws, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Under Section 504, students with disabilities can access the accommodations, aids, and services they need to access and benefit from education. Section 504 requires that public schools provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to every student with a disability — regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.
WHAT IS A FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION UNDER SECTION 504?
A free appropriate public education is an education that is designed to meet a disabled student’s individual educational needs and is based upon procedures that satisfy Section 504’s identification, evaluation, placement, and due process requirements. An appropriate education can consist of education in regular classes, education in regular classes with related aids or services, special education, or a combination of such services. The definition of related aids and services under Section 504 is broad and includes any service that a student needs to participate in and benefit from a district’s education program. Related aids and services include but are not limited to the following: school health services; counseling; environmental, instructional and behavioral accommodations; and transportation.
WHAT DOES "APPROPRIATE" MEAN?
“Appropriate” means designed to meet the individual educational needs of a disabled student as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. It does not mean that a district must maximize a disabled student’s potential or provide “the best” education program that it can design for a disabled student. It means that a district must provide sufficient individualized services to enable a disabled student to receive educational benefit (i.e., not maximum benefit, not minimal benefit, some benefit).
CAN I REFER MY CHILD FOR A SECTION 504 EVALUATION?
Any person can refer a student for evaluation under Section 504. If you think your child needs an evaluation for a 504 accommodation, please contact your school building office or complete the Referral and Recommendations Form in the link below and turn in to your child's school building office. The school counselor will be in touch with you to complete the 504 evaluation process.
WHAT IF I FEEL MY CHILD MIGHT QUALIFY FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES INSTEAD OF 504 ACCOMMODATIONS?
Special Education provides for "specially designed instruction" for students with disabilities. Section 504 provides for select accommodations for students with disabilities. Section 504 students do not need "specially designed instruction". If you feel your child might need Special Education services, you may contact the district Special Education Director, John Holcomb, to make a referral at 509-826-8342. Go to the district Special Education web page for more information.
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Section 504 Resources:
Find out more about Section 504 is available in the Equity & Civil Rights section of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) website.