• Section 504

    The Office of 504 Services monitors the implementation, evaluation, and provision of services to students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It provides assistance and support to schools and helps to resolve parent grievances that cannot be settled at the school level. The 504 Coordinator accepts requests for appeal when parents wish to contest an action or decision of the school based Section 504 team.

    Section 504 evaluation and plan development are completed by the school based 504 Team. If your child has a mental or physical impairment and you would like him/her to be evaluated for Section 504 eligibility, contact your child's school counselor. 
  • What is Section 504?

    Section 504 refers to a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The primary purpose of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against.
    Section 504 states:

    “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely byreason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financialassistance....”


    This law requires that every public school in the United States identify, evaluate, and provide free appropriate public education to disabled individuals as defined by Section 504. In addition, procedural safeguards must be provided to the parents/guardians of identified students. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for enforcing Section 504.

     

  • Who is Eligible Under Section 504?

    School based Section 504 teams evaluate students for Section 504 eligibility. A student should be considered for eligibility under Section 504 if he/she:

    • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities;
    • has a record of such an impairment; or 
    • is regarded as having such an impairment. 

    Major Life Activities

    Major Life Activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sleeping, concentrating, reading, communicating, bending and major bodily functions (immune, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, neurological, brain and reproductive systems, bowel and bladder functions, and normal cell growth). PGCPS will adhere to current definitions and eligibility standards under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the ADA.

    Substantial Limitation

    Substantial Limitation is the inability to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform without the use of mitigating measures, and may include impairments that are episodic or in remission.

    If you would like your child evaluated for eligibility under Section 504, contact the school counselor and request a Section 504 evaluation.

  • What is a Section 504 Plan?

    Students who meet the eligibility guidelines for Section 504 may have a Section 504 Plan developed. The school based Section 504 team is responsible for evaluating students for Section 504 eligibility and developing a 504 plan for students who are found eligible and need accommodations or modifications in order for their educational needs to be met.

    The Section 504 plan will specify the nature of the qualifying disability that substantially limits a major life activity, the accommodations necessary to provide access based on the student’s needs and the staff members who are responsible for implementing the accommodations.

    Accommodations are specific to the student with regard to his/her disability and its limitation on the major life activity. They are developed to provide the student access to the curriculum, not an advantage over non-disabled peers.

    The 504 Team will review the student’s Section 504 Plan on an annual basis to ensure its effectiveness. A parent may request, at any time, that a plan be reviewed and/or revised as needed. Students are re-evaluated for Section 504 eligibility every three years.
  • Parent Rights: Section 504

    The Section 504 Procedural Safeguards: A Guide for Parents of Students with Disabilities (GARANTIAS PROCESALES:Guía para Padres de Estudiantes con Discapacidades) explains the Section 504 referral, evaluation and plan development process. It includes a list of federally protected parent rights, tips for parents and steps for resolving concerns. Parents will receive a copy of the Procedural Safeguards every time there is a Section 504 meeting.

    Parents have a right to:

    • Have your child receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). 
    • Have your child take part in, and receive benefits from, public education without discrimination because of his/her disability. 
    • Have your child be given an equal opportunity to participate in school programs and extracurricular activities sponsored by the school district. 
    • Have the school district advise you of your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. 
    • Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement of your child and be included in the decisions or actions relative to the 504 process. 
    • Have the Section 504 Plan reviewed at least annually, if one is developed, and have the student re-evaluated every three years or before any significant change is made in your child’s placement. 
    • Receive all information in your native language or other primary mode of communication. 
    • Examine your child’s educational records and obtain copies at a reasonable cost, unless the fee would effectively deny you access to the records. 
    • Request amendment of your child’s educational records if there is reason to believe that they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of your child. If the school district refuses this request for amendment, it shall notify you within a reasonable time, and advise you of the right to a hearing. 
    • File a local grievance with the Section 504 Coordinator or request a review by the Section 504 Central Office Review Panel to examine your complaint and render a decision on the matters raised in your concern. 
    • Request mediation or an impartial due process hearing related to decisions or actions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, educational program or placement.

     

  • Appeal Process

    A parent may file a written grievance with the Section 504 Coordinator to resolve any complaint regarding the evaluation, identification or implementation of Section 504 services.     

    CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A GRIEVANCE TO THE 504 COORDINATOR .

    If a complaint cannot be resolved to the parent's satisfaction by the Section 504 Coordinator, the parent can request an appeal through the Section 504 Central Office Review Panel.  The Section 504 Central Office Review Panel is comprised of representatives from various PGCPS offices who have extensive experience working with students who have physical and/ or mental disabilities. 

    CLICK HERE TO REQUEST AN APPEAL THROUGH THE SECTION 504 CENTRAL OFFICE REVIEW PANEL .

    Parents can also request an impartial hearing.  Requests for an impartial hearing shall be submitted in writing to the Section 504 Coordinator.   

    The Office for Civil Rights is the governing agency for Section 504.  Parents who cannot find resolution at the district level can contact the Office for Civil Rights.    

    PGCPS Contact Information

    Keisha Butler, 504 Program Coordinator
    301-952-6255   
    Keisha.Butler@pgcps.org

    Office for Civil Rights Contact Information 

    US Department of Education
    The Wanamaker Building  
    100 Penn Square East, Suite 515  
    Philadelphia, PA 19107  
    215.656.8541
    OCR.Philadelphia@ed.gov

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is Section 504?
      Section 504 refers to a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The primary purpose of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against. Section 504 states:“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his or her 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....”
      This law requires that every public school in the United States identify, evaluate, and provide free appropriate public education to disabled individuals as defined by Section 504. Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Administrative Procedure 5146 provides guidelines and procedures for the evaluation, identification and provision of services to students with disabilities under Section 504 who attend Prince George’s County Public Schools.
    2. Who is eligible under Section 504?
      A student with a disability should be considered for eligibility under Section 504 if s/he:
      • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities;
      • has a record of such an impairment; or
      • is regarded as having such an impairment.
    3. What is considered to be a Substantial Limitation?
      The law defines Substantial Limitation as the inability to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform without the use of mitigating measures, and may include impairments that are episodic or in remission.
    4. What is considered to be a Major Life Activity?
      Major Life Activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sleeping, concentrating, reading, communicating, bending and major bodily functions (immune, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, neurological, brain and reproductive systems, bowel and bladder functions, and normal cell growth). PGCPS will adhere to current definitions and eligibility standards under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the ADA.
    5. What is a Section 504 Plan?
      Students who meet the eligibility guidelines for Section 504 may have a 504 Plan developed. The plan will specify the nature of the qualifying disability that substantially limits a major life activity, and the accommodations necessary to provide access based on the student’s needs. The plan will also include individual staff members responsible for implementing the accommodations. Accommodations should be specific to the individual with regard to his/her disability and its limitation on the major life activity.
    6. How is Section 504 different from Special Education?
      Special education is governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides for specialized instruction to remediate disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is solely focused on discrimination with regard to equal access to learning. Under IDEA, the disability must adversely affect educational performance. Under Section 504, the disability must substantially limit major life activity.
    7. If my child is dismissed from special education services, will s/he get a 504 Plan?
      Students who are dismissed from special education services do not automatically receive a 504 Plan. Special education teams cannot evaluate a student for Section 504 services. If a Special Education Team believes that a student qualifies for Section 504 services, a recommendation for a 504 evaluation should be made by the Special Education Team to the Section 504 Team. Within 30 days of the request for 504 Evaluation, the 504 Team will conduct a 504 evaluation. In order to be eligible for 504 services, there must be evidence of a disability and substantial limitation to a major life activity. A diagnosis of a disability does not automatically qualify a student for 504 services.
    8. What do I do if I believe my child needs a 504 plan?
      Contact your child’s school counselor and request that your child be evaluated for Section 504 eligibility. You should be certain to have documentation from your physician that identifies the disability. Requests for 504 evaluations should be made in writing.
    9. What happens after I request a Section 504 Evaluation?
      • Schools have 30 days from receipt of a written request for 504 Evaluation to hold an evaluation meeting. Parents should receive written notification of the 504 Evaluation meeting.
      • Physician documentation of the disability should be brought to the evaluation meeting or provided to the team prior to the meeting. At the evaluation meeting, the team will consider physician information, standardized and classroom assessments, school records and teacher and parent input to make a determination of eligibility under Section 504. The team’s determination must specifically identify the disability and the major life activity that is significantly limited by the disability.
      • Once the student is found eligible under Section 504, a 504 Plan is created and accommodations, modification and services that will provide the student with equal access are identified. The team will also consider if the student will need testing accommodations. Parents should receive a copy of the Parent’s Safeguards, 504 Evaluation Summary, 504 Meeting notes, the 504 Plan and 504 Testing Accommodations.
      • 504 Plans should be reviewed annually and students are re-evaluated for eligibility every three years.
    10. What if the accommodations on my child’s 504 Plan are not being implemented or are not effective?
      • Contact your child’s 504 Case Manager (in most schools this is the school counselor) if you have concerns about the implementation or effectiveness of a 504 Plan. The case manager may convene a 504 meeting to discuss your concerns or may be able to resolve the problem by simply speaking to the classroom teacher.
      • If you are not satisfied with the resolution provided by the Case Manager, contact the school administrator. They are the instructional leaders in the school and should be able to resolve most concerns related to Section 504.
      • If after speaking to both the Case Manager and school administration you still have concerns, contact the Office of 504 Services. They can coordinate efforts with the school to ensure that 504 services are being implemented as specified by Section 504 law and PGCPS’ Administrative Procedure 5146. Requests for a hearing or review of the 504 process by the Section 504 Central Office Review Panel should be made to the 504 Coordinator.
      •  Parents can also file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
    11. What if I do not agree with the 504 Team’s decision regarding the 504 process or plan?
      You should receive a copy of your parental rights at each 504 meeting. Parents have the right to due process when they are not in agreement with the decisions made by the school team. Options include a hearing with the 504 Coordinator or a review by the Central Office Review Panel. Parents may also exercise their rights by filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. Contact information for the Office for Civil Rights can be obtained on the PGCPS’s Section 504 website (www1.pgcps.org/504).
    12. Will my child receive testing accommodations in addition to the 504 Plan?
      Section 504 accommodations are specific to the disability and developed to provide equal access to students with disabilities. Testing accommodations are provided to ensure that student abilities are accurately assessed without interference of the disabling condition. 504 Teams should be careful to ensure that testing accommodations provide access and not an advantage over non-disabled peers. There is a separate process and criterion for receiving testing accommodations on Collegeboard exams such as the SAT.
    13. Can my child be suspended from school for more than 10 days if s/he has a 504 Plan?
      If suspension of a student with a disability under Section 504 results in more than ten consecutive or cumulative suspension days, the administrator must hold a Manifestation Determination to examine if the behavior(s) has a direct or substantial relationship to the disability and/or if the 504 Plan was being implemented properly. If a behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability, the suspension will be discontinued. If the behavior is determined NOT to be a manifestation of the disability, the student will be disciplined in accordance with the discipline procedures for non-disabled students.
  • Contact Information

    Office of 504 Services    

    7711 Livingston Road
    Oxon Hill, MD 20745
    301-952-6255
         
    Keisha Butler 
    504 Program Coordinator 
      
    Desann Manzano-Lee 
    Instructional Specialist
    Desann.Manzanolee@pgcps.org