Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that is designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education.
A child may be found to be an eligible student under Section 504 if he/she has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Under Section 504, the Kirksville R-III School District recognizes the responsibility to prevent discrimination in policies and practices regarding its students and staff. Additionally, the District has specific responsibilities outlined under Section 504 to identify, evaluate and determine eligibility, as well as to ensure that students with disabilities have access to a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Section 504 differs from the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in that is purpose is to prevent discrimination against disabled students. Alternatively, IDEA provides special education services to students with specific categories of disabilities beyond what is provided to students without disabilities.
The process under Section 504 begins with a referral. The school district will take measures to identify and locate every student with a disability. If a staff member believes that your child may have a qualifying disability, he/she will make a referral for a 504 evaluation. A parent or guardian may also request a 504 evaluation for a student by notifying the student's teacher, principal, counselor, nurse or 504 coordinator. Such a request is best made in writing accompanying current medical documentation. If the parent or guardian disagrees with the determination made by the professional staff of the school district, he/she has a right to a hearing with an impartial hearing officer.