Eligibility under Section 504:
Section 504 is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities as defined below. 504 plans are legal documents that provide specific supports and accommodations necessary for a child with a disability to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
In order to qualify for a 504 plan, the child must meet the criteria set forth in the federal law for identification as an individual with a disability:
- Section 504 defines a person with a disability as “any person who:has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
(ii) has a record of such an impairment (or)
(iii) is regarded as having such an impairment.”
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 794.
Eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders are considered a disability according to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 under the following guidelines:
“The Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i) defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition… affecting one or more of the following body systems:…[including] digestive.” In The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (Amendments Act), effective January 1, 2009, “Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating…”
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 794. Adapted from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
Children with EGIDs meet the criteria under Section 504 because a.) EGIDs are a physical digestive impairment limiting the major life activity of eating (and breathing in cases of anaphylactic reactions) and b.) they have a medical diagnosis and are regularly monitored by a team of doctors. Under Section 504, parents are not required to prove that the child’s disability adversely impacts educational performance.
The process for establishing a 504 plan varies between states and districts. However, the federal guidelines are broad and do not specify that a child must have an educational impact in order to receive support under Section 504. Local policies and procedures should not place further constraints on individuals who are able to be found eligible. Section 504 requires schools to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. If there is a concern that a local guideline is more restrictive in nature than the federal statutes, a request should be made for written documentation outlining the local school district’s 504 policy.
It is important for both parents and educators to understand that 504 plans are intended to ensure that accommodations are identified and implemented so that a student can have access to a meaningful and appropriate public education. An educational deficit does not need to be identified for a student to qualify for a 504 plan under federal law.
Developing a 504 Plan
A committee of individuals including the child’s teacher, parent, a school administrator, and the person responsible for 504 oversight in the child’s school should meet to determine eligibility and develop a 504 plan. A sample letter to request such a meeting can be found here.
The following is a list of recommended topic areas that should be discussed during a meeting for 504 plan development or review. Specific accommodations and sample 504 plans can be found under the specific grade-level tabs on this website.
Elementary School: Accommodations and Sample 504 Plan
Middle School and High School: Accommodations and Sample 504 Plan
- Medical accommodations (e.g., medical supplies, administration of dietary supplements, nutrition schedule, responsible parties, training for staff, etc.)
- Physical classroom and general population environment accommodations for safe academic access and medical needs
- Communication plan(s)
- Instructional accommodations
- Testing accommodations
- Homework accommodations
- Absence/Tardy/Homebound accommodations
- Party, celebration, and reward accommodations
- Field trip accommodations
A 504 plan is a fluid document that is implemented for one year from the date of development until it is determined that the child no longer needs support from accommodations.
Here is a sample 504 planning document.
It is the responsibility of the child’s teacher to implement and provide access to the accommodations outlined in a 504 plan. Therefore, it is critical that the teacher is an active participant in the development of what the accommodations are, why they are in place, and how they should be implemented in the school setting.
There is typically no formal progress monitoring or data collection associated with a 504 plan outside of standard distribution of progress reports and end of term grades in accordance with individual school policy. It is recommended that frequent meetings or status updates occur at least every 9 weeks to review the appropriateness of the accommodations and to clarify or modify any portions of the 504 plan that need revision.
If you are told that your child does not qualify for a 504 plan, request a formal written letter, also known as Prior Written Notice, which outlines the reasons why your child does not qualify. Additionally, request a written copy of the district’s Section 504 policy and implementation guidelines.
If you feel your child has been wrongly denied support or if your child has a 504 plan but accommodations are not being implemented, write a letter to the principal expressing your concerns. You may also consider filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. Additional information on OCR complaints can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html
Next: IEP Eligibility
Authored by Jennifer Cardenas, The Right to Learn, http://therighttolearn.net/.©2012, The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders.