Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees the right to full participation and access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...." - 29 United States Code (U.S.C.) §794

As applied to schools, Section 504 broadly prohibits the denial of public education participation, or enjoyment of the benefits offered by public school programs because of a student's disability. The law recognizes that equal treatment and services may not be sufficient to convey equal benefit. For nondiscrimination to occur, the school must provide services that level the playing field so that §504 eligible students have equal participation and opportunity for benefit. The United States Department of Education (USDE), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provides compliance oversight for Section 504. (Public Law 93-112, amended as Public Law 93-516)

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Christine Kirkreit
IDEA Compliance Administrator

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