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Section 504 Compared to IDEA

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is federal civil rights law that was enacted to eliminate discrimination on the basis of handicap.  It provides a great deal of protection for children with disabilities that is often overlooked, especially when a child has been determined to be eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and has an IEP.  Compliance with Section 504 is mandatory for all schools that receive any federal funds. 


IDEA is federal funding legislation that partially reimburses the cost public school districts incur when they provide free, appropriate, public, education (FAPE) as required in Section 504.  IDEA requirements apply to states receiving financial assistance under IDEA.  Congress created IDEA in 1975 because no funding was provided under Section 504.


Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

Both Section 504 and IDEA have requirements for schools to provide FAPE.  Under Section 504, a child, who has been evaluated according to the regulations and is deemed to be qualified and eligible, is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  For the purpose of Section 504, "the provision of an appropriate education is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual educational needs of handicapped persons as adequately as the needs of nonhandicapped persons are met.(Title 34 Education, Part 104 -- Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, Subpart D -- Preschool, Elementary, and Secondary Education, 104.33 (b)(1)(i)) 

The following link provides in depth information on all aspects of FAPE under Section 504 Free Appropriate Public Education for Students With Disabilities Requirements Under Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973


The requirements for FAPE are much more detailed in IDEA than what is stated in the Section 504 regulations. The requirements for FAPE under IDEA for residents of Ohio are provided on page 42 in the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities

 

Section 504 Plans and IEPs

IDEA requires schools to develop an Individual Education Program (IEP) for each child who is determined to be eligible. IEPs are uniform in their format (by state).  IEPs must be very specific in addressing the unique needs of each child.    


Section 504 regulations do not require schools to develop written plans for qualified students who are determined to be eligible through an evaluation.  Schools simply must not discriminate on the basis of disability and must provide FAPE for qualified, eligible students.  Most schools, nevertheless, do provide written plans.  These Section 504 plans provide documentation of the school's efforts to provide FAPE for qualified, eligible students.  Plans typically include information regarding the child's qualification and eligibility under Section 504, a listing of the regular or special education the child receives, any related aids and services, and any accommodations or modifications that are provided.  

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Questions

For answers to frequently asked questions about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the education of children with disabilities, click on the link below to the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights website  Protecting Children With Disabilities  


Answers to questions about IDEA can be found in the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities


We will be happy to assist you to understand how these laws may apply to your child's situation.  Please contact us for additional information.


Note:  Millwood Group LLC is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or legal services.