Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (34 C.F.R. Part 104) is a federal civil rights statute that assures individuals will not be discriminated against based on their disability. All school districts that receive federal funding are responsible for the implementation of this law. This law protects a student with an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, whether the student receives special education services or not.
Examples of physical or mental impairments that may be covered under Section 504 include: epilepsy, AIDS, allergies, vision impairment, broken limbs, cancer, diabetes, asthma, temporary condition due to accidents or illness, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, depression, intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Examples of major life activities that can be affected by the student’s disability include: learning, thinking, concentrating, reading, speaking, walking, breathing, sleeping, caring for oneself, as well as major bodily functions, including brain function, immune system function, or digestive functions. This is not an exhaustive list.
The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) administers Section 504. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has no enforcement authority for this law. In addition to complaints of discrimination based on disability, you may file complaints with OCR regarding discrimination based on race, sex, age, or national origin in education institutions. You must file a complaint within 180 days of the date the discrimination occurred. Although it is not necessary to file a complaint with the school district before filing it with OCR, you may file complaints with both the school district and OCR.
To help you understand Section 504 rights and responsibilities, see our list of Related Resources.
OCR Region Office for Minnesota:
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661