Who must comply with Section 504

A federal law known as Section 504 was created to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in programs and activities that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides federal funding for. In programs and initiatives that receive federal funding from ED, OCR upholds Section 504. Educational institutions, public school districts, and other state and local education agencies are among the recipients of this federal financial assistance.

Regardless of the type or severity of the handicap, every eligible student under the district’s control is entitled to a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE), as mandated by the Section 504 regulations. Students with disabilities who meet the requirements and attend schools that receive federal financial assistance are covered by Section 504. A student must be found to:

  1. have a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities;
  2. have a record of such an impairment; or
  3. be presumed to have such an impairment in order to qualify for protection under Section 504.

According to Section 504, school districts must offer qualified students within their boundaries who have a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Under Section 504, providers must offer students with disabilities appropriate educational services that are tailored to their specific needs in the same way that the needs of students without disabilities are met. As long as the school district follows Section 504’s procedural requirements, OCR does not review the outcome of individual placement decisions or other educational decisions, unless there are exceptional circumstances. OCR will look into how school districts identify and assess students who have disabilities as well as the procedural protections those districts offer those students.

People with disabilities are shielded from discrimination in any program or activity that receives funding from the federal government under Section 504. Anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities is referred to as an "individual with a disability." Taking care of oneself, doing manual labor, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, focusing, thinking, communicating, and working are just a few examples of major life activities. Those who are thought to have such an impairment or who have a record of having one are also included in the definition. Thus, Section 504 provides protection for people whose physical or mental disabilities significantly restrict their ability to engage in their primary activities of daily living.

A federal law known as Section 504 was created to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in programs and activities that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides federal funding for. A school district is required by the Section 504 regulations to offer each eligible student with a disability who is under its jurisdiction a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE). Under Section 504, providers must offer students with disabilities appropriate educational services that are tailored to their specific needs in the same way that the needs of students without disabilities are met. OCR will look into how school districts identify and assess students who have disabilities as well as the procedural protections those districts offer those students. Acts of retaliation are forbidden. It is forbidden for a recipient to use intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination against any person in order to impede the exercise of any privilege or right guaranteed by Section 504. There is no official mediation conducted by OCR. On the other hand, if a complaint is filed under Section 504, OCR may offer to mediate the dispute through "Early Complaint Resolution," or mediation. Initially, OCR negotiates a corrective action agreement in an attempt to get the school district to voluntarily comply.