Section 504 is part of a large piece of civil rights legislation called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This act prohibits or corrects discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 provides:
“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...”
A person is considered disabled if that person 1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 2) has a record of such an impairment; or 3) be regarded as having such an impairment. The major life activities in the Section 504 regulation (34 C.F.R. 104.3 (j)(2)(ii)), include bending, breathing, caring for one’s self, communicating, concentrating, eating, hearing, learning, lifting, operation of major body 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, reading, seeing, sleeping, speaking, standing, thinking, walking, and working.
School districts are required under Section 504 to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students within their jurisdiction regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Students may be disabled under Section 504 and, even though they do not require services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school district has specific responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that include identifying, evaluating, and if a child is determined to be eligible under Section 504, providing access to appropriate educational services.
Section 504 falls under the management of general education and each school site in the Delano Joint Unified School District has a designated site 504 coordinator. This person coordinates the 504 program at the site under the management of the Principal.