Updated: Aug 9, 2022
What’s the difference between Special Education and Section 504? And what is the most appropriate for my child?
Here are some helpful facts:
Section 504 and Special Education ensure that students with disabilities are provided accessible and free and appropriate public education (FAAPE). The criteria for a disability is much broader under Section 504 than Special Education (through Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: IDEA).
Section 504 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination and harrassment on the basis of a disability as a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 provides accommodations to students to ensure equal access to education. Students with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit a major life activity can qualify for accommodations through Section 504. Common conditions that students receive accommodations for under Section 504 include asthma, diabetes, seizures, food allergies, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
Process with the school:
1) If a student has a diagnosis that limits their daily life activities, or if you suspect your child has a disability, parents should contact their home campus and ask for the Section 504 Coordinator to review the student's evaluation for Section 504 accommodations.
2) If the school does not approve your request, they must give their reasons in writing with information on how to appeal their decision.
3) School personnel may also initiate a 504 referral for a student. Parent consent is required for the Section 504 committee to evaluate a student or this can be a private evaluation.
4) The 504 Committee consists of a group of school professionals, usually involving parents. The committee will review parent input, medical reports, psychological evaluations, teacher input, standardized test results, discipline record, school health information, work samples, and attendance history. After reviewing the information, the Section 504 Committee will determine Section 504 eligibility.
Accommodations in the Section 504 plan are selected based on the student needs to give them equal access to the general curriculum, academically and/or behaviorally. Example Section 504 accommodations/interventions include:
Allowing movement breaks
Assign note takers
Use of graphic organizers
Modified assignments (length or number of items)
Altering format or materials
Allow use of computer as alternative to writing task
Prepare for transitions
Provide visual cues
Reduce or minimize distractions
Small group or individual testing
Break tasks and procedures into steps
Extended time for assignments and/or tests
Wheelchair ramps and handrails
Access to calculator
Read test questions aloud and/or allowing students to verbally respond
Dyslexia and dysgraphia interventions and accommodations
Section 504 Resources:
Get Help for Your Child Today
Do you want to move forward with pursuing a 504 plan for your child? You can begin this process at any time throughout the school year. Our CAPES psychologists are here to consult with you, if needed.