Our Mission:"The mission of the Section 504 office is to ensure that all identified students are free from discrimination and are provided with the accommodations, related services and development of strategies necessary to support their success. The Section 504 office will provide ongoing monitoring of, and support and training to school-based teams to ensure compliance with the federal mandate."
What is Section 504?
Section 504 is a broad civil rights law protecting the rights of individuals in programs and activities that receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The law protects all school-age children who qualify as "handicapped" according to the definitions described in the regulations. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States … shall solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance …” 29 U.S.C. § 794 (“Section 504”)
It is the policy of the School Board, as provided in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504"), that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity offered by the Board. The Board shall provide a free and appropriate public education to each student who is disabled within the definition of Section 504 regardless of the nature or severity of the disability and to provide all reasonable accommodations and other applicable rights to both students and employees as needed under Section 504.” - Bylaws and Policies; The School Board of Pinellas County Policy Manual 2260.03
How does Section 504 define "disability"?
Section 504 regulation defines a disabled individual as a person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such impairment. The definition does not set forth a list of specific conditions.
The key factor is whether the physical or mental impairment results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Major life activities include but is not limited to functions such as learning, walking, seeing, caring for oneself, breathing, talking, and concentrating. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is considered a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active. As of January 1, 2009, school districts must not consider the ameliorating effects of any mitigating measures that a student is using when determining whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits that student in a major life activity.
Does Section 504 require evaluations?
The District has a Child Find duty to identify, refer, evaluate, and if eligible, provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to disabled students. Determining whether a child is a qualified disabled student under Section 504 begins with the evaluation process. A Section 504 evaluation must draw on information from a variety of sources in the area of concern. A medical diagnosis in and of itself does not mean a student is disabled under Section 504. The 504 Committee will determine the appropriate and necessary evaluation components on an individual, case by case basis. There is no requirement for a parent to provide a diagnosis, prescription, or doctor’s report in order to move forward with the evaluation. The Section 504 Committee shall consider all relevant information on the student to determine whether or not the student is disabled under Section 504. Relevant information could include: school records, medical records, interviews, classwork, observations, screenings, and rating scales.
What do you do if you believe your child has a disability under Section 504?
- Inform your child's teacher
- Request further information about Section 504 from the School-based 504 Coordinator (every school in the district has a designated staff member to fulfill this role)
504 Resources:For more information, contact:
Stephanie Miller, District 504 CoordinatorAdministration Building
301 Fourth Street SW
Largo, Florida 33770
Phone: (727) 588-6296