Section 504

This section provides information about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its impact in the public school setting. Information is also included about services for dyslexia. If you have a concern, please discuss with the school counselor at your child's campus.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Pub. L. No. 93-112, 87 Stat. 394 (Sept. 26, 1973), codified at 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., is American legislation that guarantees certain rights to people with disabilities. It was the first U.S. federal civil rights protection for people with disabilities.  Section 504 accommodations address non-discriminatory access for individuals with disabilities or health conditions.  It is not education law, but rather civil rights law applied, in this case, to the educational setting.

Any person who has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more of such person'a major life activities, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include caring for one's self, walking, seeing, speaking, working, performing manual tasks and learning. 

  • Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines dyslexia in the following way:

    Texas Education Agency link

    • Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.

    • “Related disorders” include disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as:

      • developmental auditory imperceptions

      • dysphasia

      • specific developmental dyslexia

      • developmental dysgraphia

      • developmental spelling disability.

    • Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

  • Qualified individuals with disabilities are persons who, with Reasonable Accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job for which they apply or obtain.  Reasonable Accommodation means an employer is required to take reasonable steps to accommodate one's disability, unless it would cause the employer undue hardship.

    When applied to students in public education the language broadly prohibits the denial of public education participation, or enjoyment of the benefits offered by public school programs because of a child’s disability. Section 504 requires school districts to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities.

    Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) also applies to K-12 schools, the existence of IDEIA does not mean the Rehabilitation Act is superfluous. IDEIA only protects a subset of children and youth who have disabilities—those who satisfy its specific definition for a child with a disability.  IDEIA is strictly an educational law that addresses curriculum and instruction alongside the other supports needed by an individual with a disability.

    Regardless of the child's disability, the school district must identify the child's educational needs and provide any regular or special education to satisfy the child's educational needs just as well as it does for the children without disabilities. To accomplish this, districts may develop an education plan for the child. When done so under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, it is a 504 Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP). This 504 plan covers accommodations, services, and support the child will be receiving in order to have access to education at school. A 504 plan is different and less detailed than an Individualized Education Program (IEPs) offered through IDEIA/Special Education.

  • Because Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability; the protections also support civil rights for eligible students outside of the instructional day for school-sponsored activities. Section 504.
  • The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), passed in 1990, seems to pick up where the Rehabilitation Act left off. Borrowing from the §504 definition of disabled person, and using the familiar three-pronged approach to eligibility (has a physical or mental impairment, a record of an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment), the ADA applied those standards to most private sector businesses, and sought to eliminate barriers to disabled access in buildings, transportation, and communication. To a large degree, the passage of the ADA supplants the employment provisions of §504 and reinforces the accessibility requirements of §504 with more specific regulations.

    Referral and Evaluation for Section 504:

    • A referral by a parent or district professional concerning a child with a disability, who may be considered for protection under §504, is made through the campus designee for §504.  The principal selects this individual as the manager of the program for the campus. Call the school counselor, if you have questions and concerns. He or she will be able to give you information on the campus designee. 

    • An evaluation, designed based on the specific condition, may include a review of medical or psychological documentation provided by the family’s private provider(s).  For conditions, other than dyslexia, there is not a “test” for eligibility.  Parents and teachers may complete checklists or observations in order to gather data to support the need for accommodations through §504.

    • The §504 committee determines the eligibility for supports and services, then develops the accommodations plan to address the identified concerns.

    Referral and Evaluation for Dyslexia:

    • A referral by a parent or district professional concerning a child suspected of having dyslexia begins with the campus instructional intervention teacher and the campus designee for §504.

    • An evaluation includes standardized testing, review of reading data. Although not required, if the parent has information from a private provider, consideration of the data is a part of the evaluation process.

    • Students eligible for services may be considered under §504 for direct instruction and/or accommodations.

    • If there is suspicion of other disabilities, the committee makes a request for further evaluation through IDEIA/Special Education.

    • A parent or guardian may discuss their child's concerns with the school counselor. He or she will be able to give information on the campus designee who will then lend support in addressing the concerns. 




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In partnership with families and community, CISD will provide all students an exemplary education, preparing them to be successful, productive citizens. 

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