Students who qualify may receive services provided by a 504 plan. To be covered under Section 504, a student must be between the ages of 3 and 22 years old and must have a disability. As defined by federal law: “An individual with a disability means any person who: (i) has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment” [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].
When a student is referred for a 504 plan, documentation of the disability is gathered and educators, who work closely with the student, comprise a committee to determine if a need for a plan exists. This committee also determines what accommodations, if any, are to be put in place to provide adequate services. Some students may have a disability and be protected from discrimination under Section 504 law but may not exhibit a need to have a plan in place.
When a plan is put in place, accommodations are determined to meet the student’s needs. With a 504 plan, students are expected to complete the same work as every other student. The accommodations are in place to level the playing field for the disabled student so EVERY student begins at the same point. The student is then responsible for their learning when the playing field is level. (***No modifications are allowed under Section 504.)
To determine eligibility to be covered under Section 504:
- Is the student between 3 & 22 years of age?
- Does the student have or is regarded to have a mental or physical impairment?
If yes, what is the documentation?
- What major life activity is substantially limited?
If the student is eligible, determination of the plan needs will rest with the educational committee.
***Modifications change the expectations for the student. Accommodations do not change the expectations but provide a different way to meet those expectations.