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Home » Policy & Funding » Equity and Civil Rights » Resources for School Districts » 504 Plans and Students with Disabilities

504 Plans and Students with Disabilities

Looking for information for families?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (commonly referred to as Section 504) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. Public schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students who have a disability. 

FAPE consists of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met. The goal of Section 504 is to level the playing field, not to maximize potential.

Schools must refer and evaluate a student they know or suspect has a disability and may need services as a result to access and benefit from their education. If eligible for services, the school must develop a Section 504 Plan for the student, implement the Section 504 Plan, and periodically reevaluate the student to assess need for services.

OCR Policy & Guidance on Section 504

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the federal office that enforces Section 504, has published policy and guidance for schools on a variety of topics related to implementating Section 504. OCR guidance, or "Dear Colleague Letters." are a helpful place to start if you have questions about Section 504.

Section 504 Sample Forms & Resources

Notice of Parent Rights & Procedural Safeguards 

School districts must provide parents a copy of their rights and procedural safeguards before evaluating students for Section 504 eligibility.

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Sample Forms

Equity and Civil Rights developed the following forms to assist Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in meeting requirements to identify, evaluate, and serve students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Information on the forms does not substitute for reading the Section 504 regulations, reviewing OCR guidance on Section 504, or reviewing OCR resolution agreements or case law related to Section 504. Adoption of these forms by LEAs is optional. They are designed to be saved, filled out, and then printed. However, LEAs may reformat or revise these forms to meet their own needs, or they may develop their own forms. Please note that these forms may be revised in the future, as necessary, to comply with any changes to Section 504 requirements.

Tips for using the sample Section 504 forms:

  • The forms are designed to be filled out on a computer. However, feel free to revise the forms so they can be filled out by hand.
  • If you do not see instructions for filling out fields, under "Home" tab, push the paragraph marker symbol (&‌para;). For example, you should see "Enter LEA Here" at the top of each form.
  • To fill in a field, place curser in field before typing or selecting from drop-down menu.

Students' Rights Information Sheet

This information sheet can be a helpful resources to share with families who have questions about Section 504. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law which prohibits discrimination against students based on disability. Section 504 ensures that students with disabilities have equal access to educational programs, services, and activities. Special education is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Accommodations and/or related aids and services provided under Section 504 are included in a Section 504 Plan. Special Education is different from Section 504 because special education requires school districts to provide eligible students with specially designed instruction in accordance with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students eligible for special education, however, are still protected from discrimination under Section 504 and have appropriate accommodations and/or related aids and services included as part of their IEP.

Since the ADA Amendments Act, which became effective in 2009, many students on health plans are now eligible under Section 504. Many services previously provided on a health plan are “related services” under Section 504 and should be incorporated into a student’s Section 504 plan.

The school must provide all disability-related services—including health services—at no cost to parents. Schools should not require parents to provide care a school or during school-sponsored activities. If nursing care is required, the school must provide the staff to provide the necessary care. If a parent consents to a parent-designated adult (PDA) to provide their child’s health-related care, the school should help the parent find school staff who can serve as a PDA.

For students with diabetes, schools should not automatically require a student to attend a non-neighborhood school for diabetes care. Rather, the Section 504 team should use multiple sources of data to make an individualized determination about the health services the student needs and who can provide those services. The Section 504 team can ask the student’s health care provider to clarify whether school staff or a PDA can provide or supervise the necessary care.

Washington’s discipline regulations governing conduct for all students are located at chapter 392-400 WAC. School districts must follow these regulations for all students. However, when a school district imposes a disciplinary removal of a student who is eligible, or is deemed eligible, for special education or Section 504 services, the district must also follow additional special
education or Section 504 discipline procedures to ensure a student with a disability is not discriminated against in the administration of discipline, including conducting a manifestation determination review when a student is removed from school for over ten days.