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Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is Turning 40 Years of Age

Friday, September 13, 2013

Girl walking with a walker.Section 504 of the Rehab Act became law on September 26, 1973 as the first national law to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. The Rehab Act paved the way for the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and was our nation’s first step toward guaranteeing the right to equal opportunity under the law. In the past 40 years, we have witnessed dramatic improvement and change, including better education and more equal treatment. Yet much remains to be done.

As recently as 2009, parents in Florida had to launch a major effort in the ongoing fight to secure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehab Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by Florida’s schools. While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides for a free and appropriate public education, it is Section 504 and the ADA that protects our students against discrimination based on disability.

A parent group called Collier ESE Reform organized the filing of complaints with the U.S. Department of Education against 64 different school districts alleging that the districts had failed to establish and implement the system of procedural safeguards required by Section 504 of the Rehab Act and Title II of the ADA.

The U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) accepted jurisdiction and opened the complaints for investigation. OCR then issued Resolution Letters regarding each district, and Agreements were established between OCR and each school district. At present, OCR continues to monitor many districts for their compliance with those Letters and Agreements. These Agreements require school districts to identify a Section 504 Coordinator and establish policies and procedures including a complaint resolution system. You may now access your district’s policies and procedures at our Section 504 – County-by-County webpage.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities under Section 504, you may also visit our Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 webpage, which will provide you with detailed information about your rights and responsibilities under Section 504. This page also provides frequently asked questions with detailed answers, links, and information about how to develop a grievance or complaint. For those parents and students looking to learn more about ways to accommodate a child’s learning inside the classroom or during testing, we provide detailed information about reasonable accommodations. 

Tags for this Post

accessibility, americans with disabilities act, individuals with disabilities education act, section 504 of the rehab act, special education,

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