Eligibility Under Section 504
To qualify under Section 504, the student must have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” To determine eligibility, the campus Section 504 team will consider first whether the student has a physical or mental impairment and whether the impairment substantially limits a major life activity.
- A physical or mental impairment refers to a physiological disorder or condition, a cosmetic disfigurement, an anatomical loss, or a mental or psychological disorder. Examples of impairments include arthritis, diabetes, allergies, asthma, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- A major life activity is any act a person performs to function, which includes but is not limited to hearing, speaking, lifting, performing bodily functions, breathing, thinking, caring for oneself, bending, performing manual tasks, seeing, breathing, eating, reading, sleeping, concentrating, walking, standing, or communicating.
The determination of eligibility is made without regard to mitigating measures (any aid that alleviates the impact of the impairment such as medication, accommodations, or assistive technology). Exceptions include eyeglasses or contact lenses. A transitory impairment, an impairment with an actual or expected duration of six months or less (e.g., a broken arm, a cold virus) does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities for an extended period.
Process for Determining Eligibility
Parents, school personnel, or students themselves may initiate a Section 504 referral if the student has or is suspected to have a disability. Referrals should be directed to the campus-level Section 504 coordinator who will obtain parent consent and convene a Section 504 initial evaluation to determine if the student is eligible under Section 504. The campus Section 504 committee will review a variety of sources of data (e.g., parent input, previous school evaluations, medical reports, psychological evaluations, teacher input, standardized test results, discipline records, school health information, work samples, and attendance history. While the Section 504 committee will consider the recommendations provided by doctors or other professionals who work with the child, it is the Section 504 team’s responsibility to document the review of multiple sources of information to determine Section 504 eligibility.
Section 504 Plans
If the Section 504 committee determines that the student is eligible under Section 504, they should consider, on an individual basis, the services and accommodations which enable the student to access the educational environment. Services and accommodations are documented within the Section 504 plan and provided to parents and campus staff who provide instruction and supports to the child. Of note, an accommodation changes how a student participates in the educational environment to overcome challenges or barriers presented by their disability.
The 504 committee should meet annually to monitor student progress to determine when adjustments to the Section 504 plan should be made. The committee should meet every three years to reevaluate the student’s eligibility. Aside from the minimum requirements, parents may request meetings to review plans or consider additional eligibility as needed by contacting the campus Section 504 coordinator.