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Pope County CUSD #1
Section 504 Eligiblity


Pope County students with disabilities who do not qualify for an individualized education program, as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and implementing provisions of the School Code, may qualify for services under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

What is Section 504?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a one sentence civil rights law that prohibits agencies that receive federal funding from discriminating against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability. There are also several federal regulations, passed by the DOE, that specifically tell schools how to implement Section 504 requirements.

What is the Purpose of Section 504?
Section 504's main emphasis in the schools is equal educational opportunity, which is mainly accomplished by providing appropriate classroom accommodations to eligible disabled students. Section 504 also requires that eligible students are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in school extracurricular and nonacademic activities.

Section 504 is a nondiscrimination statute. The results of the disability must be that the student is unable to achieve equal access or benefit from the school's program and activities as compared to a nondisabled peer. The existence of a physical or mental impairment does not mean that the child automatically qualifies under Section 504.

Who Is Disabled Under Section 504?
An eligible Section 504 student is one with

1. a physical or mental impairment
2. that substantially limits learning or another major life activity

The major life activities that were previously provided as examples were breathing, walking, seeing, hearing, learning, etc. Through the ADA Amendment Act, Congress has provided examples of additional major life activities including major bodily functions (immune system, normal cell growth), as well as sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. The major life activities in Section 504 regulations have always meant to be examples and not an exclusive or exhaustive listing.

Unlike the IDEA, Section 504 does not list a few disabilities (each with strict eligibility criteria) which result in eligibility. Instead, a broad formula is used to include many more disabilities. Specific physical or mental impairments are not listed in the regulations, " because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list."

Section 504 Three Prong Approach To Eligibility:
"Handicapped persons" means any person who:

1. Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
2. Has a record of an impairment
3. Is regarded as having an impairment

The second and third prong cover persons with a history of a disability or persons who are perceived as having a disability. While a " record of" impairment or being "regarded as having" impairment by the recipient give rise to anti-discrimination protection under Section 504, these two prongs do not trigger the school district's obligation to provide a FAPE. Districts have no duty to refer, evaluate, or place students who qualify under prongs two or three. The only duty as to these students is to not discriminate against them on the basis of the history of impairment or the perception that the child is impaired.