What is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is Congress’s directive to schools receiving any federal funding to eliminate discrimination based on disability from all aspects of school operation. Since St. Vrain Valley School District receives federal dollars, it is required to provide eligible disabled students with equal access to services, programs, and activities offered by the District. Section 504 is a civil rights statute and not a special education statute. Therefore, it is the responsibility of regular education staff and building administration to implement those practices and procedures necessary for a school to fulfill the requirements of this law. At each school, the responsibility for ensuring Section 504 compliance rests with the building principal or principal’s designee, sometimes referred to as the building 504 coordinator.
Equal access requirements for students, employees, and other individuals, this publication will focus on students. This information has been organized around questions parents frequently ask when trying to understand this civil rights statute. Please note that when working with disabled students, Section 504 serves the same purpose as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What is an Accommodation?
An accommodation allows a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. The accommodation does not alter in any significant way what the test or assignment measures. The purpose of an accommodation is to provide a student with equal access to learning and an equal opportunity to show what he/she knows and what he/she can do.
What is a Modification?
A modification is an adjustment to an assignment or a test that changes the standard or what the test or assignment is supposed to measure. Examples of possible modifications include a student completing work on part of a standard or student completing an alternate assignment that is more easily achievable that the standard assignment.
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Difference between IHP and 504:
- Purpose of IHP: An IHP is specific to managing healthcare and to support the student’s health needs while at school.
- Purpose of 504: A 504 addresses accommodations in academic areas, specifically in the classroom. The goal is to level the playing field by providing accommodations and modifications that allow the student the same educational opportunities that their peers have.
If a student has an IHP are they required to have a 504?
- No, every student with an IHP does not need a 504. An IHP can be used alone or in conjunction with a 504 plan, this is dependent on the student’s medical and education needs and should be timely evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Is a doctor’s note required to confirm a medical diagnosis for a 504 plan?
- To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment.
- A medical diagnosis may not be required, but we need data to support an impairment (i.e. processing speed in the 60’s, fluency scores in the 70’s, comprehension in average limits when given extended time. Thus, data supports the need for extended time pending the task requirements).
- It is recommended that you ask the parent for a doctor’s note pertaining to the medical diagnosis, but this is NOT required. However, you must have data to support the need for a 504 plan.