If you are interesting in finding out more about supports or eligibility for services under Section 504, please contact your school counselor or Mrs. Jaylee Swanson, Director of Special Education at (309) 792-2887 x3.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Section 504 provides that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . .” Recipients of these funds include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies.
The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability.
Section 504 regulation defines a person with a disability as “any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such impairment.”
If a student is covered by Section 504, a school district must provide the student with a “504 Plan” that describes what the district will do support the student’s disability and ensure that the student’s disability will not be a barrier to the student access to school programs (which can include things such as school assemblies, extracurricular activities, etc). It is important to note that a 504 Plan is a much more general document than an IEP and will only contain a basic description of what kinds of support the district will provide to address the disability.
An excellent guide for parents or community members who would like additional information about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and 504 Plans include:
Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois is a document, developed by the Illinois State Board of Education for parents and others to learn about the educational rights of children who have disabilities and receive special education services. While the entire document is an excellent resource for parents, information specific to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act can be found here.
U.S Department of Education Office of Civil Rights
Frequently Asked Questions about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities