Accommodations for Students Under Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. All staff and administrators have the responsibility of insuring that all students with disabilities are identified, evaluated and provided with needed accommodations and services, resulting in a free appropriate public education.​​ 

For more information, explore the links below, contact your school's 504 Coordinator or contact:

Shannon Numair
Compliance Specialist, 504/ADA
Boulder Valley School District
720-561-5835
​shannon.numair@bvsd.org

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on disability in any program receiving federal financial assistance. This legislation defines a person with a disability as anyone who: Has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity. Major life activities include: bending, breathing, caring for one’s self, communicating, eating, hearing, learning, concentrating, reading, operation of major bodily functions (including but not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions), performing manual tasks, speaking, sleeping, seeing, standing, thinking, walking, and working

Resources

Parent/Student Rights Section 504  


Parent/Student Rights Section 504 - SPANISH


Accommodations for College Board Tests


Accommodations for ACT​​


Staff Resources
(make sure you are logged in as staff and go to Staff Only page)


Boulder Valley School District's Closed Captioning Guidelines


AC-R Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity

Eligibility Questions

What is a 504 evaluation or reevaluation?

Unlike its special education counterpart, the 504 evaluation does not mean “test,” but instead, means a gathering of data or information from a variety of sources so that the committee can make the required determinations. No formal testing is necessary. Since specific or highly technical eligibility criteria are not part of the 504 regulations, common sources of evaluation data for 504 eligibility are the student’s grades, disciplinary referrals, health information, language surveys, parent information, standardized test scores, teacher comments, etc. An evaluation is required prior to creating a 504 plan and prior to any significant change of placement. A reevaluation is also required “periodically,” which our District defines as once every school year. The reevaluation is simply a re­gathering of information from a variety of sources to verify eligibility and to determine if revisions are needed in the child’s 504 plan.

When a child is no longer eligibile for special education services, is he or she automatically eligible for 504?

Yes and No. The student’s eligibility for services under 504 depends on whether the child has a current physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This is often the case where a child with a learning disability has improved adaptive behavior or other skills, and no longer qualifies under the IDEA eligibility criteria. While less than the level required for IDEA, the child may still have an impairment significant enough to result in 504 eligibility. That will be a decision for the 504 committee to make after it has reviewed the student evaluation data. Even if the student does not qualify for 504 services, the student dismissed from special education has a record of a disability and is protected by the anti­-discrimination provisions of 504. Note that since no services are needed, no 504 committee is required to meet; there is no referral and no evaluation. Should the student later demonstrate a need for services or modifications due to a physical or mental impairment, the student should be referred to 504 unless the suspected disability again is so severe as to reach IDEA eligibility.

What if the major life activity impaired is not learning? Can the child still qualify under Section 504?

A common misperception in 504 is that a student must possess a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the major life activity of learning in order to be 504 eligible. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the arm of the U.S. Department of Education charged with enforcing 504, takes the position that while it “may be true in a practical sense that most impairments that would be of concern in an education setting would be those that impair learning,” the major life activity of learning need not be the focus of the equation. “Students may have a disability that in no way affects their ability to learn, yet they may need extra help of some kind from the system to access learning. For instance, a child may have very severe asthma (affecting the major life activity of breathing) that requires regular medication and regular use of an inhaler at school. Without regular administration of the medication and inhaler, the child cannot remain in school.” 

Can the parent's disability make the child eligible for 504?

No. The student has to have the physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. 

Do parents have a right to be members of the Section 504 Committee?

Yes. If the student qualifies for 504, doing the accommodations without providing a family with procedural protections is a violation. Question 9: Can a parent demand that 504 provide services rather than IDEA for his/her IDEA eligible child?

No. 504 does not require the attendance of parents at 504 meetings. There is no requirement under Section 504 that parents physically participate in all placement procedures, only that placement decisions are made by a group of knowledgeable persons that may include the parent. However, parental involvement in the 504 process should be encouraged through district requests for parent information that will be used by the 504 committee, and by opening avenues of communication with parents and members of the committee. Communication and cooperation can occur without parent attendance at 504 meetings. That being said, attendance of parents at 504 meetings is highly encouraged.

Can a teacher decide not to implement part of a student's 504 plan because the parent or student believes the accommodation is no longer necessary?

No. A parent or student request to discontinue accommodations should be followed by a 504 committee meeting and revisions to the 504 plan, if appropriate.

Responsibilities of Teacher/Schools/District

If school staff members already provide the necessary accommodations for the student with a disability, does the school still have to go through the procedural steps of 504?

No. On occasion, a parent of an IDEA­eligible student may desire all that IDEA has to offer (special education and related services) but demand that the District provide those services under Section 504 so that the child is not in special education. OCR has rejected this demand, finding that when a child qualifies under the IDEA, the District satisfies the provisions of 504 as to that child by developing and implementing an IEP under IDEA. Therefore, when parents reject that IEP developed under IDEA, they would essentially be rejecting what would be offered under Section 504. The parent could not compel the district to develop an IEP under Section 504 as that effectively happened when the school followed IDEA requirements.

Can a teacher decide not to implement part of a student's 504 plan because the parent or student believes the accommodation is no longer necessary?

No. A parent or student request to discontinue accommodations should be followed by a 504 committee meeting and revisions to the 504 plan, if appropriate.

How does the district respond when a teacher fails to implement accommodations in a student’s 504 plan?

The student’s accommodation plan is what federal law requires to be done in the classroom. Should a teacher refuse to follow the plan, the teacher is in violation of federal law and creates potential liability for the district. Our licensed school district employment contracts contain language indicating that the employee agrees to abide by state and federal law and local school district policy. Failing to comply with a 504 plan violates that contract provision, and may result in discipline up to and including termination should the employee refuse to implement a 504 plan. After all, the teacher’s refusal to follow the plan means that the district is not in compliance, and could be subjected to OCR investigations, 504 due process hearings, or federal court litigation. But most important, a student has missed needed accommodations.

Should school staff pay particular attention when the target of bullying has a disabling condition?

Yes. Disability harassment is prohibited by Section 504 and the ADA. In recent cases involving disability harassment claims, many districts have avoided a Section 504 violation by showing that staff members have responded promptly and adequately to students’ complaints. Keep in mind that disabling conditions are not always obvious and include students with “invisible disabilities” such as severe food allergies and chronic health conditions.

Do we have to maximize a student’s potential under 504?

No. Section 504 does not require a public school district to provide students with disabilities with a potential­maximizing education, only reasonable accommodations that give those students the same access to the benefits of a public education as all other students.

Can a student be dismissed from 504?

Absolutely. Once a student no longer meets eligibility requirements (that is, he or she no longer has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities), the 504 committee can withdraw him or her from 504. That child is no longer eligible for 504 services. However, since he or she is a child with a record of a disability, the student continues to receive protection under 504 from discrimination by the district. No further 504 meetings are required for this child following his or her dismissal, unless the student is found to be eligible for services at some later point.