A Brief Overview of Section 504 Educational Disability Discrimination Law

October 22, 2015


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination against any disabled person solely by reason of his or her disability by a recipient of federal financial assistance. Virtually all public schools are covered by Section 504 because they receive federal financial assistance, and most private schools and private colleges and universities receive such assistance.


Examples of discrimination prohibited under Section 504 include unequal access to educational programs and facilities, denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and refusal to implement or inappropriate implementation of academic adjustments.


The law not only protects students, but also parents and employees. And the law covers all programs of schools and colleges, including extracurricular activities and athletics.


Section 504 mandates a system of procedural protections, including notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard, with respect to actions regarding the identification, evaluation, educational placement and provision of special education and related services.


To find out more about Section 504, visit the Office of Civil Rights section on the United States Department of Education website.

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