504 Plans and Students with Disabilities
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 implementing Section 504. OCR guidance, or "Dear Colleague Letters." are a helpful place to start if you have questions about Section 504.
- Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools (2016)
- Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Students with ADHD (2016)
- Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities (2016) | Fact Sheet
- FAQs About the Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Charter Schools Under Section 504 (2016)
- Dear Colleague Letter: Responding to Bullying of Students with Disabilities (2014) | Fact Sheet
- Dear Colleague Letter: Effective Communication (2014) | FAQs | Fact Sheet
- Protecting Students With Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities
- Q&As on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools
- Dear Colleague Letter: Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (2008)
- Dear Colleague Letter: Transition of Students with Disabilities (2007)
- Dear Colleague Letter: Access by Students with Disabilities to Challenging Academic Programs (2007)
Training on Section 504
Navigating Section 504
This webinar provides an overview the Section 504 process—from identifying and evaluating students with disabilities to developing and implementing Section 504 plans. Consideration will be given to questions the OSPI Equity and Civil Rights Office commonly fields related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Navigating Section 504 Webinar
- OSPI Fall Virtual Training Series Section 504 Handout
- List of Key Federal COVID-19-Related Resources on School and Students with Disabilities
Section 504: Beyond the Basics
Now that you are familiar with the 504 process, it’s time to tackle some of the trickier applications of Section 504. Does a student need a 504 plan and a health plan? Do students with disabilities have a right to participate on school sports teams? What about extracurricular activities and fieldtrips? What obligations do LEAs have to private school students under Section 504? And as COVID-19 has evolved, how does this impact district responsibilities under Section 504? This webinar, recorded in November 2022, addresses these and other advanced Section 504 questions.
- Section 504: Beyond the Basics Webinar
- OSPI Fall Virtual Training Series Section 504: Beyond the Basics Handout
Section 504 Sample Forms & Resources
Notice of Parent Rights & Procedural Safeguards
School districts must provide parents with a copy of their rights and procedural safeguards before evaluating students for Section 504 eligibility.
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.
- Consent for Initial Section 504 Evaluation | Spanish
- Evaluation Data: Parent Input | Spanish
- Evaluation Data: Staff Input
- Section 504 Evaluation Summary | Spanish
- Eligibility Determination for Section 504 Services | Spanish
- Notice of Eligibility for Section 504 Plan | Spanish
- Notice of Ineligibility for Section 504 Plan | Spanish
- Parental Consent to Provide Section 504 Services | Spanish
- Notice of Section 504 Team Meeting | Spanish
- Section 504 Plan | Spanish
- Manifestation Determination | Spanish
- Authorization for Release of Records | Spanish
- Contact Log
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 (¶). For example, you should see "Enter LEA Here" at the top of each form.
- To fill in a field, place cursor in the field before typing or selecting from drop-down menu.
Students' Rights Information Sheet
This information sheet can be a helpful resource to share with families who have questions about Section 504.
Frequently Asked Questions
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that 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.
- Guidelines for Care of Students with Diabetes (OSPI and Washington State Department of Health)
- OCR Q&A on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008
- DOJ Letter of Findings Re: Public School Children With Diabetes in Alabama
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.
- OSPI Civil Rights Guidelines: Preventing & Addressing Discrimination in Student Discipline - Appendix A: Protections for Students Eligible for Services under IDEA and Section 504 who are Removed from School
- Discipline Procedures for Students Receiving Special Education Services (OSPI Special Education)