Category Archives: 504

 9. What are Section 504 and Title II?

Section 504 is a federal law that prohibits any entity that receives federal financial assistance (such as grants or student loans) from discriminating against persons with disabilities.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that prohibits state and local governments (such as public school districts, public colleges and universities, and public libraries) from discriminating against persons with disabilities.

In general, Section 504 and Title II nondiscrimination standards are the same, and in general, actions that violate Section 504 also violate Title II. However, where Title II requirements exceed Section 504 requirements, public school districts, colleges and universities, and libraries must also comply with the Title II requirements.

From Here.

 8. What are “episodic impairments”?

“If an impairment only occurs periodically (that is, it is episodic) or is in remission, it is a disability if, when in an active phase, it would substantially limit a major life activity.24For example, a student with epilepsy is a student with a disability if, during a seizure, the student is substantially limited in a major life activity such as thinking, breathing, or neurological function. Or, a student with bipolar disorder is a person with a disability if, during manic or depressive episodes, the student is substantially limited in a major life activity such as concentrating or brain function.” ~OCR

 7. What is “substantial limitation”?

“The determination of substantial limitation must be made on a case-by-case basis with respect to each individual student.21Section 504 requires that, for elementary and secondary school students, a group of knowledgeable persons draw upon information from a variety of sources in making this determination.22

“The group of knowledgeable persons is often called a Section 504 Team.” ~OCR

 6. What are “mitigating measures”?

“When determining if a person has a disability, a school cannot consider the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures when determining how the impairment impacts the major life activities under consideration.18

“For example, a student with low vision (unable to read typical size print with ordinary eyeglasses or contacts) who is able to read using a computer program that enlarges the font size of documents is still a person with a disability, even though the computer program permits the student to diminish the impact of his or her low vision and read lessons and other materials for school.

“The Amendments Act provides a non-comprehensive list of mitigating measures: medications; prosthetic devices (for example, an artificial arm); assistive devices (for example, computer modifications that increase accessibility, wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, and crutches); learned behavior; and adaptive neurological modifications that an individual may use to eliminate or reduce the effects of an impairment.

“Note that the use of ordinary eyeglasses or contacts is the one exception to the mitigating measure rule.19In other words, if a person’s vision is corrected with ordinary eyeglasses or contacts,20the school may consider how the eyeglasses or contacts help the student see when making a determination about whether the student has a disability based on seeing.” ~OCR


 5. What are “major life activities”?

“To summarize, major life activities include certain acts a person does (such as hearing, speaking, lifting) and a person’s bodily functions (such as lung disease that affects a person’s respiratory system, or a traumatic brain injury that affects the function of the brain).

“The list of major life activities under Section 504 includes, but is not limited to, the activities listed below.12

• caring for oneself • bending
• performing manual tasks • speaking
• seeing • breathing
• hearing • learning
• eating • reading
• sleeping • concentrating
• walking • thinking
• standing • communicating
• lifting • working

“Major bodily functions are also major life activities under the law, and these major bodily functions include functions of the bowel, bladder, and brain; normal cell growth; and the immune, endocrine (for example, thyroid, pituitary, and pancreas), respiratory, reproductive, circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems.13

“These lists, however, do not provide every possible major life activity or bodily function; therefore, if an activity or bodily function is not listed in the Amendments Act, it might still be considered a major life activity under Section 504.14

“For example, if a school provides a form with a list of major life activities to consider during an evaluation process, a student may still have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity even if the activity is not listed on the school’s form.

“School staff should note, in particular, that a student may have a disability and be eligible for Section 504 services even if his or her disability does not limit the major life activity of learning.

“Therefore, rather than considering only how an impairment affects a student’s ability to learn, school staff must also consider how the impairment affects any major life activity of the student and, if necessary, assess what is needed to ensure that students have an equal opportunity to participate in the school’s programs.15

“For example: (1) a student with a visual impairment who cannot read regular print with glasses is substantially limited in the major life activity of seeing; (2) a student with an orthopedic impairment who cannot walk is substantially limited in the major life activity of walking; and

“(3) a student with diabetes who requires insulin injections is substantially limited in the operation of a major bodily function, the endocrine system. These students would have to be evaluated, as described in the Section 504 regulations, to determine whether they need special education and/or related services.16

“School staff should note that a student may have a disability and be eligible for Section 504 services, including modifications, even if the student earns good grades.

“This is because the student’s impairment may substantially limit a major life activity regardless of whether the student performs well academically, and the student may need special education or related aids and services because of this disability.17

“For example, a student who has dyslexia and is substantially limited in reading finds it challenging to read the required class material in a timely manner. Alternatively, a student who has been diagnosed with depression may be substantially limited in her ability to concentrate while completing school assignments. In both of these cases, the student spends far more time preparing for class than other students and earns good grades because of the student’s intelligence and extreme efforts. The student would still be substantially limited in the major life activity of reading despite earning good grades and may require a multi -sensory approach to learning, and additional time to complete in-class tests or quizzes, even if that student earns mostly A’s.” ~OCR

 4. The Meaning of Disability Under Section 504

“Below is a discussion of what it means to be a student or individual with a disability, and of related terms that help to comprehensively define disability as it is used in Section 504 and its implementing regulations.

“Disability. Under Section 504, an individual with a disability (also referred to as a student with a disability in the elementary and secondary education context) is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.7

“The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (and therefore has a disability) must be made on a case by case basis.8 In addition, when determining if someone meets the definition of a disability, the definition must be understood to provide broad coverage of individuals.9

“Physical or mental impairments. Section 504 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.10

“The Section 504 definition of physical and mental impairment also includes any mental or psychological disorder.11The definition does not include all specific diseases and conditions that may be physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the completeness of such a list.” ~OCR

 3. To whom does Section 504 apply?

Section 504 replies to all entities including private sectarian as well as non-sectarian schools that receive, directly or indirectly, federal funds. It does not, however, apply to entities that indirectly receive merely the benefits of federal funding, but not the funding itself.

Private schools may receive Federal funding through may different avenues, including funding for school lunch programs, anti-drug programs, programs designed for at-risk students, educational reform programs, programs designed to enable student to meet national education goals, technology grants, government contracts, government loans, etc. Further, Section 504 applies even if the private school receives the federal funding indirectly. For example, if the federal government provides a grant to a non-profit entity organized to promote education, student health, or a similar purpose, which entity reallocates some of the funding to a private school, the private school is “a recipient of federal funds” under § 504. Dupre v. The Roman Catholic School of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux, 31 IDELR 129 (U.S.D.C. EDLa 9/2/99).

Upon receipt of federal funding, the recipient must comply with Section 504 with respect to all of its services and programs, even though the federal funding received is limited to a single program.

From Here.

 2. Can a student have both an IEP and a 504?

Absolutely. Although it may not be seen as “best practice” there are times when it makes sense. For instance, some school districts prefer medical issues to be on a 504 instead of an individualized health plan, particularly around issues such as diabetes or allergies. Additionally, during a student’s last year of school it may make sense to create a 504 in preparation for college since an IEP does not typically follow one to college.

There is nothing in the law preventing a student from having both plans simultaneously.