October 16, 2020
As students begin the new school year, some may qualify for additional help. Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act protects children with disabilities. Programs which receive federal funds must not discriminate against such children. They must not deny such children the right to participate in or receive benefits from those programs. Since all public schools and most private schools receive federal assistance, they must follow this law.
To qualify under section 504, a child must have a disability which substantially limits one or more major life activities. The disability could be a mental or physical condition. Major life activities include personal care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
Some students with disabilities may be eligible for special education under an Individualized Education Program (IEP). A student with disabilities who does not qualify for an IEP may be eligible for a “504 Plan.” A parent or teacher may refer a child if they think the child’s disability is affecting access to school programs.