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Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

Every year, public school teachers, leaders, parents, students, and other interested parties contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) asking questions about the educational and civil rights of students with disabilities who are enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools.

In this resource guide, the term parent includes guardians and others with the authority to act on behalf of and in the interest of a student.

During these exchanges, OCR often hears (1) uncertainty about the Federal civil rights obligations of public schools and individual school employees in a wide range of situations involving students with disabilities; (2) a lack of awareness of required processes and procedures for securing services and access to programs and opportunities for students who have or may have disabilities; or (3) confusion about student rights under the applicable Federal disability laws. As a result, some school officials may violate the Federal civil rights laws that are designed to protect students with disabilities. Similarly, some parents do not know what services and protections their children with disabilities may be entitled to receive or how to appropriately initiate or follow the process and procedures for securing disability services for their children from the school.
To facilitate efforts to eliminate discrimination against students with disabilities, OCR offers this resource guide to provide answers to questions that OCR has received and increase understanding among parents and members of the school community of the Federal civil rights laws that protect students with disabilities in public schools, and in particular, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).1

Imbedded in the discussion of key provisions of Federal law, the resource guide repeatedly asks parents, teachers, and others to think about how they might respond in different scenarios. 
For example:
What should parents do when their child appears to need extra help in school, and they believe their child may have a disability?
What kinds of assistance are available?
Who should parents speak with about their concerns and questions?
What are teachers, administrators, and other school employees required to do for a student who has or may have a disability?