Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that covers the rights of all individuals with disabilities, not just school-aged children. It prohibits disability discrimination by any program or activity that receives federal funds. Under the law, schools are required to provide appropriate adaptations and modifications for individuals who have disabilities, have a record of disabilities, or are regarded as having disabilities. A disability is defined as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
The school must provide each identified protected handicapped student enrolled, without cost to the student or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to afford the student equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities without discrimination. This is accomplished through the creation of a Chapter 15 Service Agreement.
Services, aids and/or accommodations should not be confused with best practices provided to all students. Best instructional strategies and practices should be implemented throughout the building and in all classrooms. Hence, best practices and instructional strategies are not part of the Service Agreement of services, aids and/or accommodations to Protected Handicapped Students. Students should only receive the services, aids and/or accommodations that are needed and required to access the general education curriculum and/or extracurricular activities. Services, aids and/or accommodations may be required in some environments but not all schools environments. The Service Agreement will clearly state when and where services, aids and/or accommodations are to be provided.
Parents/guardians should contact their student's Guidance Counselor for more information regarding 504 Service Agreements.
Links to additional resources:
US Department of Education - Office of Civil Rights
Pennsylvania Department of Education – Implementation of Chapter 15
Procedural Safeguard Notice