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Student Support Services
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(571) 372-1872

School 504 Accommodations

DoDEA Nondiscrimination and Accommodations Program

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The law requires school districts with students with disabilities to be provided reasonable accommodations to allow access to educational programs and associated activities to the same extent as students without disabilities.

A student may be eligible to receive Section 504 Accommodations if he/she:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment, and
  • The impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities.

DoDEA schools provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities by implementing reasonable 504 Accommodations upon establishing that a student has a disability requiring such 504 Accommodations.

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law requires school districts with students with disabilities to provide accommodations to allow access to educational programs and associated activities to the same extent as students without disabilities. A student is considered disabled and may be eligible to be considered if he/she: Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.

How is the need for Section 504 accommodation different from special education?

All students who are considered disabled under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) are also considered to be disabled and protected from nondiscrimination under the Section 504 (Americas with Disabilities Act (ADA)).

IDEA: To be found eligible under IDEA, it must be determined that the student has a qualifying disability and requires special education and/or related services in the school setting (e.g., specialized instruction due to a reading disability, necessary to make meaningful educational progress.

Section 504: Students who are eligible under Section 504 have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities and do not satisfy the more specific criteria for eligibility under IDEA with a special education Individual Education Program (IEP).

What is meant by “substantially limits one or more life activities”?

DoDEA defines a “substantial limitation” as a disability that is a barrier to the student performing one or more major life activities, as compared to an average (non-disabled) student in the school population.

What are considered major life activities?

Under Section 504, major life activities include, but are not limited to the following: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Major bodily functions may also be considered major life activities and may include: functions of the immune system; bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Major bodily functions may also be considered major life activities and may include: functions of the immune system; normal cell growth; and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Must a disability be permanent?

No. A student may be eligible for a 504 Accommodation Plan as long as the disability substantially interferes (limits) with a major life activity and the disability is not transitory and minor.

What are reasonable accommodations?

DoDEA schools provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities by implementing accommodations upon establishing that a student has a disability that requires a Section 504 Accommodation Plan. The goal of a 504 Accommodation Plan is to provide a student with a disability accommodations that give the student access to educational programs and activities to the same extent as a student without a disability.

Example: A student who requires the use of an assistive mobility device (e.g., crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair) may require a Section 504 accommodation to leave his/her classes 15 minutes early to avoid hallway congestion.

Who determines eligibility for a DoDEA Section 504 Accommodation Plan?

The school’s 504 Accommodation Team is responsible for identification, eligibility, and development of accommodations and the Accommodation Plan.

Note: A determination that the student has a disability or a medically diagnosed illness or condition does not guarantee eligibility for a 504 Accommodation Plan. However, a student may be found to be eligible for Section 504 nondiscrimination protections without requiring an accommodation plan.

Who is responsible for implementing the Accommodation Plan?

All school personnel are responsible for implementing the accommodations identified within the DoDEA 504 Accommodation Plan.

What are the steps to identify if a student requires an Accommodation Plan?

Step 1: A student may be identified as a student with a possible disability at any time by a parent, teacher, student, counselor, administrator, other school personnel, medical personnel, or community agency staff member.

Step 2: Referral: A referral may be initiated by a parent, teacher, student, counselor, administrator, other school personnel, medical personnel, or community agency staff member.

Step 3: Notice of Rights: The school 504 Accommodation Team Leader ensures the parents are provided a copy of the student’s rights and the complaint procedures following a referral.

Step 4: Review: The 504 Accommodation Team Leader schedules a meeting to review the referral.

Step 5: Eligibility: The 504 Accommodation Team determines if the impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Step 6: Develop Plan: The 504 Accommodation Team will develop a 504 Accommodation Plan for the student to be implemented immediately or when impairment is active. Federal law and DoDEA regulations require the creation of a written plan which describes the accommodations and services to be provided. The 504 Accommodation Plan must be reviewed yearly (at a minimum) to ensure the student is able to access his/her educational program/activities.

Step 7: Implementation: Implement, reserve implementation, or do not implement a 504Accommodation Plan.

Can a student with an eligible disability receive Section 504 protections without a formal 504 Accommodation Plan?

Yes. For example, a student who has been diagnosed with cancer (eligible disability) but during the course of treatment, the cancer goes into remission. That student is still entitled to the general nondiscrimination protections of Section 504.

Are dispute resolution procedures established for students with a 504 Accommodation Plan?

Yes. Parents or sponsors and students over 18 years old, have dispute resolution rights under Section 504. The chain of command is important and should begin with informal complaints at the school level, or a formal complaint may be filed through the District Superintendent to the Area Director’s Office. Finally, an Administrative Complaint may be filed with the DoDEA Office of Compliance and Assistance at DoDEA Headquarters.


Resources

For additional information, contact your local DoDEA school’s 504 Accommodation Team Leaders or school principal.