Section 504 and special education (IDEA) are two service options for children with disabilities. All school districts should have a Section 504 Coordinator to answer your questions regarding specific Section 504 services.

How does Section 504 define “Appropriate Education”?

A free appropriate public education is one provided by the elementary or secondary school that includes general or special education and related aids and services that 1) are designed to meet the individual educational needs of an eligible student with a disability as adequately as the needs of an eligible student who is non-disabled are met and 2) are based on adherence to evaluation, placement and procedural safeguard requirements.

How does Section 504 define eligibility?

Section 504 protects students from discrimination based on their disability status. A student is eligible for accommodations under Section 504 if the student has intellectual or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of a student’s major life activities that impact education.


The determination of what accommodations are needed must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student and also about the disability. This usually involves the school principal, classroom teacher(s) and other educators working with your child. The parent should be included in the process. The group will review the nature of the disability and how it affects the student’s education. The decisions about Section 504 eligibility and services should be documented in the student’s file and reviewed periodically.

What does making accommodations mean?

Accommodations are made by the classroom teacher(s) and other school staff to help students benefit from their educational program. In some cases, a written plan will be developed outlining accommodations. Accommodations need to take into account both the functional limitations of the individual and alternative methods of performing tasks or activities to participate without jeopardizing the outcome.