Wachusett Regional School District
Wachusett Mountain

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Last updated:  January 7, 2009


Section 504 is a Federal Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons with a disability in any program receiving Federal financial assistance.  The Act defines a person with a disability as anyone who:

1.   has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or    more major life activities (activities such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing,learning and working;

2.   has a record of such impairment; or

3.   is regarded as having such an impairment.

 Although Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act has been with us since 1973, "its main thrust for many years", according to a publication by the Council of Administrators of Special Education, "has been in the area of employment for individuals with handicaps and for members of minorities.  However, within the last several years, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), charged with enforcement of Section 504, has become pro-active in the field of education of handicapped individuals."


The student pool for those students who have disabilities and are covered under Section 504 includes those covered under Chapter 766, but is much larger.

Students may qualify under Chapter 766 (and also under Section 504) for one or more of ten (10) disabling categories:  autism, developmental delay, intellectual, sensory (hearing, vision, deaf-blind), neurological, emotional, communication, physical, specific learning, and health.

Students may qualify under Section 504, but may or may not be eligible under Chapter 766, for some of the following conditions:  communicable diseases (e.g. HIV and Tuberculosis), medical conditions (e.g. asthma, allergies, diabetes, and heart disease), temporary medical conditions due to illness or accident, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD), behavioral difficulties, and drug/alcohol addiction.                        

The diagram that follows illustrates this relationship:




If a district has reason to believe that, because of a handicap defined under Section 504, a student needs either special accommodations, specialized instruction, or related services in order to participate in the school program, the district must evaluate the student.  Based on this evaluation, the student may:  (1) be eligible under Chapter 766 and receive either specialized instruction or related services; (2) be eligible under Section 504 and receive special accommodations; or (3) be determined not to be eligible under either program. If the student is (1) or (2) above, the district must develop and implement a plan for the delivery of all needed accommodations/services.

Therefore, if a staff member has reason to suspect that a student has a disability that may make him/her eligible for accommodations and/or specialized services, or if a parent/guardian conveys to a staff member that her/his child has a disability that may make him/her eligible, staff members must inform the school's Section 504 or Special Education Coordinator.

Students who are determined to be eligible under Chapter 766 and have an Individualized Educational Plan do not require an additional 504 Accommodation Plan.  


Plan to Address Individual Learning Needs of Students