Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy
The Los Angeles Unified School District is committed to providing a working and learning environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying. The District affirms that no qualified student with a disability shall, on the basis of that disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying under any District program or activity. Disability-based harassment is a form of discrimination under both Federal and State law that may result in a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the student or the denial of an equal opportunity to an education or a FAPE.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a Federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination/harassment on the basis of a disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The ADA is a civil rights law that also prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public institutions. The ADA was amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) in 2008 and went into effect January of 2009. The intent of the ADAAA was to emphasize a broader application of the definition of disability under the ADA and Section 504, in order to supersede court decisions that had resulted in too narrow an interpretation of disability. The new law also eliminated the consideration of the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures when determining whether a student has a disability, though they remain relevant when evaluating students’ needs for accommodations/services. The expanded definition of disability means more students may be eligible for Section 504 nondiscrimination protections whether or not they currently need Section 504 accommodations/services and a plan.
A student with a disability under Section 504 means any student who:
Has a disability, which substantially limits one or more of the student’s major life activities. Note: Major life activities may include but are not limited to functions such as bending, breathing, caring for one’s self, communicating, concentrating, eating, hearing, learning, lifting, performing manual tasks, reading, seeing, sleeping, standing, speaking, thinking, walking, and working. Major life activities may also include, but not be limited to: functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.Has a record of such a disability; or
Is regarded as having such a disability.
It is important to note that that any student eligible for special education and related services is also protected from discrimination under Section 504, but that not all students who are eligible under Section 504 meet the eligibility requirements for special education and related services. A student who is suspected of requiring special education and related services should be referred for a special education assessment as described in the section on IEP Eligibility. If an IEP team finds the student is not eligible for special education, but suspects the student has a disability, it may refer the student for the Section 504 evaluation process.
Compliance with Section 504 is the responsibility of all school personnel and the operational responsibility of the general education program.
For students who have a disability which substantially limits one or more of the their major life activities under Section 504, the school must ensure access to the programs, services, and activities that are available to nondisabled students, and provide accommodations/services that the students require to access the educational program. This is done through a Section 504 evaluation conducted by a team of individuals who are knowledgeable about the student, the data gathered, and/or the accommodations/services.
Section 504 sets forth evaluation procedures to determine eligibility, to develop an accommodations/services plan, and to provide procedural protections. It also protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination/harassment. Harassment is unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal, or visual conduct that is severe or pervasive, that unreasonably disrupts an individual’s educational or work environment, or that creates a hostile educational or work environment. (See Prevention and Elimination of Hostile Environments.)
Child Find requirements for Section 504 are satisfied through the annual distribution of the District’s Parent/Student Handbook.
Note: Technical assistance for Section 504 compliance is available from the Educational Service Center Section 504 Designee and the District’s Educational Equity Compliance Office at (213) 241-7682. Public School Choice (includes Charter and Permit)
For students enrolled in independent charters, the charter school is responsible for facilitating the referral and follow-up for Section 504 evaluations when appropriate.
A parent may request a Section 504 evaluation for a student currently enrolled in a private school from the student’s District school of residence. If the request is determined appropriate, the school should conduct a Section 504 evaluation. If the student meets the criteria under Section 504, the team shall develop a Section 504 Plan. Upon enrollment in a District school, the Section 504 Plan shall be implemented. If the student remains enrolled in a private school program, the District has no obligation to provide Section 504 accommodations/services.
Non Public School
Section 504 accommodation plans are developed in the general education setting. Accommodations to ensure access to the curriculum for students already identified as disabled under special education should be incorporated into IEPs. Students with disabilities in non-public schools are afforded protections from discrimination/harassment under Section 504.