As many New York families know, the world can be cruel and unfair to people with mental and physical disabilities. Fortunately, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was implemented to prevent this type of discrimination.
Under Section 504, employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from a Federal agency or department are prohibited from denying a qualified individual with disabilities benefits or excluding them from participation in a program just because they have a disability.
How does Section 504 impact children with disabilities?
Under Section 504, public school districts and other educational institutions are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities. The law protects qualified students with disabilities by requiring school districts to provide such students within their jurisdictions with a free appropriate public education, sometimes known by the acronym FAPE.
A student will be considered a qualified student with disabilities, as defined by Section 504, if they meet the following criteria:
- The student has a physical or mental impairment (e.g., blindness, diabetes, or learning disability).
- The student’s impairment substantially limits at least one major life activity (e.g., speaking, walking, or learning).
Students who have a record of or are regarded as having an impairment that substantially limits life activities will also be considered qualified students under Section 504.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act helps ensure that school districts do not overlook or mistreat a student simply because they have a disability. To ensure that your child receives the education they deserve, contact an attorney specializing in education law and the legal issues surrounding special education.