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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires schools to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in services, programs, and activities.

Section 504 is a federal law that protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities. The Act prohibits any organization that receives federal funds from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals because of a disability. School programs and activities are subject to this law.

The Howard County Public Schools (HCPSS) is committed to ensuring that no qualified student with a disability will be discriminated or retaliated against and/or denied an educational benefit or opportunity on the basis of a disability. The procedures for Section 504 are described in the HCPSS Procedures and Guidelines for Implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (PDF)

Who is Eligible?

A student with a disability should be considered for eligibility under Section 504 if he/she:

  • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • has a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

“Major life activities” include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Some examples of “impairments” include severe allergies, cerebral palsy, diabetes, and epilepsy.

A diagnosis of a disability does not automatically qualify a student for eligibility under Section 504. Teachers or parents who feel a student may meet the criteria for Section 504 eligibility may request a Section 504 Eligibility meeting.

Due Process Rights

Due process rights are the rights granted by federal law to parents of/students with 504 disabilities. Read more about these rights →

What is a 504 Plan?

Students who meet the eligibility guidelines will have a 504 Plan developed for use in school. The Plan specifies the nature of the impairment, the major life activity affected by the impairment, accommodations necessary to provide access based on the student’s needs, and the person(s) responsible for implementing the accommodations.

Parents are encouraged to participate in development of the plan. A case manager will be assigned to notify teachers about the accommodations and monitor implementation.

  • Accommodations should be specific to the individual student and should not include accommodations typically provided to general education students.
  • Accommodations should be specific to the individual student’s physical or mental impairment in terms of the substantial limitation to the major life activity.
  • Accommodations must be documented in writing.

Obtaining a 504 Plan

Contact your child’s school

Ask for the Section 504 Administrative Building Coordinator. Be ready to assist in documenting a disability at your school.

Attend 504 meetings

Attend the 504 Eligibility meeting and/or plan development meetings.

Work with the school

Be an active partner in the process and implementation of your child’s 504 plan through communication with the school.


HCPSS 504 Grievance Procedures

HCPSS prohibits discrimination based on disability and has a Section 504 grievance procedure. Learn more about grievance procedures.