Section §504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section §504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
Section §504 states that: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his 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(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].
Children with disabilities may be eligible for special education and related services under Section 504. That’s because Section 504’s definition of disability is broader than the IDEA’s definition. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:
have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
have a record of such an impairment; or
be regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.