Most provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA related to discipline are the same. A student has the right to a manifest determination when there is a change of placement decision under both Section 504 and IDEA.
In addition, state laws on school discipline apply to all students in Massachusetts.
Section 504 provides that a school district cannot discipline a student with a disability for behavior that is a manifestation of his disability if the disciplinary action is a significant change in placement. However, if the manifestation determination finds no relationship between disability and conduct, the discipline resulting in change of placement may occur. (See Springfield School District #186, 55 IDELR 206 (OCR June 29, 2010))
Section 504 is different from IDEA in several ways. Unlike the IDEA, Section 504:
- has no list of specific questions to determine if behavior was a manifestation of a disability. (34 CFR 104.36)
- has no list of who attends the manifestation determination (just persons knowledgeable).(34 CFR 104.35(c))
- has no provision for interim alternative placements.
Finally, if the incident involves illegal drugs or alcohol, a student on a 504 Plan may be expelled without a manifestation determination. (29 USC 705(20)(c)(iv))