Section 504 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that protects the civil and constitutional rights of persons with disabilities. Any recipient, both public and private, who receives or benefits from federal financial assistance must comply with the requirements of Section 504. The school district must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each qualified disabled person.
To be eligible for services and protection against discrimination on the basis of a disability under Section 504, a student must be determined, as a result of an evaluation, to have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities.
The JCPS District will work to identify and locate every qualified person residing in its jurisdiction who is not receiving a public education. The district will take appropriate steps to notify people who are disabled, as well as their parents or guardians, of the recipient's duty under this subject (34 CFR 104.32).
Section 504 requires JCPS and its representatives to identify children who may be eligible for identification under Section 504. LRP Publications (2001) quotes Dave Richards, an attorney with the Texas-based firm of Richards, Lindsay and Martin, on the Section 504 child-find requirement:
"Districts do not have the luxury under Section 504 of sitting back and waiting for qualifying children to step forward and identify themselves. On the contrary, Section 504 duty to identify is an affirmative mandate to search for eligible children."
It is crucial that students are identified who may be eligible for Section 504 accommodations. The JCPS Child Find obligation does not allow for only one role group to assume this responsibility. Teachers need to know what determines eligibility for Section 504 and to be vigilant to changes in their student's profile that result in a suspicion that a problem exists and is affecting the student's progress in school.
Administrative Training and Chairperson Training are provided periodically throughout the school year. Offerings are listed on pdCentral. Individual, small-group, and staff training for individual schools is available on request.