Special Programs » Section 504

Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides the "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…” 29 U.S.C. Section 794(a) (1988).


Therefore, school districts are required to provide appropriate educational programming but must also address accessibility issues, including physical accessibility to school district facilities.  Although Section 504 also applies to employees and visitors to the school, this manual will focus only on students.


Under Section 504, a student with a disability is defined as one who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity;
  • Has a record of such an impairment; or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

34 C.F.R. Pt. 104.4(j)


All students who qualify for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are covered under Section 504.  However, these students do not need a separate 504 plan.  There are other students who have a disability but do not require specially designed instruction (a requirement under IDEA).  These students may need some modifications and/or accommodations and may be eligible for those modifications and/or accommodations under Section 504.  Examples of this would be students with asthma or juvenile arthritis who are unable to fully participate in a PE class.


Section 504 falls within the general education program.  A student found eligible under Section 504 is served by the employees and resources of the general education program.  The use of IDEA funds to provide Section 504 services is considered a misuse of IDEA funds and is not allowed under the regulations of that program.


The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for overseeing and monitoring compliance with Section 504.  The Director of Special Education of Coos Bay Schools, Kayla Crook, is responsible for compliance in our district.  She may be reached at (541) 267-1325.  


Who is protected from disability discrimination under Section 504? 

There are three ways a student may be protected from discrimination under Section 504.  A person is considered to be protected from discrimination under Section 504 if the student:


 Has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities.  The term does not cover children solely disadvantaged by cultural, environmental or economic factors.  

  1. Has a record or history of such impairment.  This term includes children who have been misclassified (e.g. a non-English speaking student who was mistakenly classified as having an intellectual disability); or
  2. Is regarded as having such an impairment.  A student would be “regarded” as having a disability under Section 504 if, for example, a nondisabled student frequently receives services from the learning center and is perceived as having a learning disability.  


While all three of the above groups of students are protected by the nondiscrimination provisions of Section 504, only the first group, students with actual, current physical or mental impairments that substantially limit a major life activity, are protected by the “child find” and “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) provisions of Section 504 (found in the U.S. Department of Education’s Section 504 regulations).  The child find and FAPE provisions of Section 504 do not apply to the second two groups.


Consistent with its child find and parent consent obligations, the district responds promptly to requests initiated by a parent or public agency for an initial evaluation to determine if a child is a child with a disability.


Upon receiving a request from a parent or public agency for an initial evaluation, the district designates a team to determine whether an initial evaluation will be conducted. The Student Study Team (“SST”) process or any other Response to Intervention (“RTI”) process is not a substitute for the District’s obligation to conduct a review of a request for evaluation under the IDEA or Section 504.


The district team includes the parent and at least two professionals, at least one of whom is a specialist knowledgeable and experienced in the evaluation and education of children with disabilities. The team may decide to evaluate with or without a meeting. The district documents team members’ input, including parents, whether or not the district convenes a meeting. If a meeting is held, the district invites parents to participate. If the district agency refuses an evaluation requested by the parent, the district provides the parent with prior written notice of its refusal to conduct an evaluation. The district acknowledges the parent's rights to challenge its refusal to conduct an evaluation.


 “Child Find” describes the District’s legal obligation to locate, evaluate, and identify children with disabilities who may qualify for accommodations, special education, or related services under either Section 504 or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).

Responsibility To Provide A Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) “FAPE” is defined in the Section 504 regulation as the provision of regular or special education and related services that are designed to meet the individual educational needs of persons with disabilities as adequately as the needs of nondisabled persons are met, and that are provided without cost (except for fees imposed on nondisabled students and their parents). 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.33(b)-(c).12


Procedural Safeguards–Section 504 requires notice to parents regarding identification, evaluation, and/or placement. Written notice is recommended. The notice must be made before a “significant change” in placement. Following IDEA procedural safeguards is one way to meet Section 504 mandates.


Evaluation/Placement Procedures–Unlike IDEA, Section 504 requires only notice, not consent, for evaluation. It is recommended that districts obtain parental consent.


Like IDEA, evaluation and placement procedures under Section 504 require that information be obtained from a variety of sources in the area of concern; that all data are documented and considered; and that decisions are made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, evaluation data, and placement options. Section 504 requires periodic reevaluations, but does not specify any timelines for placement. Section 504 requires that students be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. Section 504 does not require a meeting or any change in placement.


Due Process–Section 504 requires local education agencies to provide impartial hearings for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of a student. It requires that parents have an opportunity to participate in the hearing process and to be represented by counsel. Beyond this, due process details are left to the discretion of the local education agency. It is recommended that districts develop policy guidance and procedures.


If you have questions about impairments, or whether a student qualifies for special services, please contact the 504 Representative at each school listed below, or contact the school principal.


504 Representatives
Kayla Crook Director of Special Programs
Kara Davidson Eastside Principal
Carli Ainsworth Madison Elementary Principal
Gary Roberts Millicoma Intermediate Principal
Shelly McKnight Sunset Intermediate Principal
Floyd Montiel Marshfield Jr. High Principal
Casey McCord Marshfield High School Assistant Principal
Kevin Guthrie Millicoma Intermediate, Vice Principal
Michelle Boice Sunset Intermediate, Vice Principal
Marji Cagley Marshfield Jr. High Counselor
Jessica Nickerson Marshfield Counselor 
Emily Parkhurst  RN Nurse at Eastside & Millicoma
Krista Spencer RN Nurse Marshfield, Destinations/Resource Link
Beverly Hernandez RN Nurse at Sunset, Madison
Jessica Sprague Coos Bay Alternative Coordinator