Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as "Section 504," is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of their disability by federally funded institutions. The Huntington Beach City School District is a recipient of federal funding, and therefore, the District is required to provide eligible students with equal access to services, programs, and activities offered by our schools.
Section 504 states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall solely, by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
Eligibility Under Section 504
A student shall be eligible for a Section 504 Plan if he/she meet the following criteria:
1. Student has a physical or mental impairment.
A physical or mental impairment is: (1) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (2) any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. A temporary impairment does not constitute a disability for purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that is results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities for an extended period of time.
Examples of physical or mental impairment include, but are not limited to: mobility impairments, medical conditions such as epilepsy, hemophilia, diabetes, AIDS, arthritis, allergies/asthma, tuberculosis, cancer, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and ADHD.
2. Student's physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities.
The term "substantially limits" is not defined under Section 504. However, an impairment that substantially limits one major life activity does not have to also limit another major life activity. Also, an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
Major life activities are functions, such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communication, and working.
A student may be eligible under Section 504 even if the student's disability or condition is controlled or mitigated, e.g. by medication, cochlear implants, hearing aids, etc.
Section 504 Referral
The District will evaluate any student who, because of disability, needs or is believed to need reasonable accommodations to regular or special education and/or related aids and services to allow a student an equal opportunity to participate in school and school-related activities. A student may be referred by anyone, including parent/guardian, teacher, other school employee, or community agency, for consideration as to whether a student qualifies as a student with disabilities under Section 504. If your child is not currently in a special education program and you suspect there is a disability, please contact your child's teacher or the school principal to discuss your concerns.
Section 504 Assessment and Evaluation Procedures
Once a referral is made, the school will convene a Student Study Team (SST) meeting. The SST meeting will be composed of the student's parents/guardians and other persons knowledgeable about the student, the student's school history, the student's individual needs, the meaning of evaluation data, and the options for placement and services. Individuals who may attend the meeting could include the student's regular education teacher, school nurse, school psychologist, etc.
The SST shall consider the referral and determine what assessments are needed in all suspected areas of disability to evaluate whether the student is a student with a disability under Section 504 and what special needs the student may have. If an assessment is recommended, an assessment plan will be developed, with your input, and you will receive written notice of the proposed assessment. Your written, informed consent is required before any assessment begins. A copy of the procedural safeguards/rights will be included with the assessment plan. If a parent request for evaluation is denied, the Section 504 District Coordinator will inform you in writing of this decision and of your procedural rights.
After an assessment is completed, the Section 504 Team will convene a meeting to review and consider the results of the assessment. The Section 504 Team will be composed of the student's parents/guardians, or other individuals holding educational rights, and other persons knowledgeable about the student, such as the student's regular education teacher, school nurse, school psychologist, etc.
Section 504 Plan
When a student is determined eligible under Section 504, the Section 504 Team determines what accommodations and supports are needed to allow the student an equal opportunity to participate in school and school related-activities. The District will develop a Section 504 Plan describing the student's disability, the accommodations and supports that will be provided to the student and by whom, and the person responsible for ensuring the components of the Section 504 Plan are implemented.