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What happens if your child does not meet the eligibility requirements to receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? Your child may be covered for services and supports under the important civil rights law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination because of a disability.
Schools that receive federal funding must provide modifications and accommodations for eligible students to provide access to the same education that children without disabilities receive. In addition to public schools, Section 504 covers programs that receive federal financial assistance and can include private schools and colleges. Because it is a civil rights law, it protects individuals with disabilities from birth through adulthood.
The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's provides resources to help families find the special education programs and supports they need.
To be eligible for protections under Section 504, a child must:
Section 504 covers a wide range of disabilities including emotional or mental illness, ADD / ADHD, orthopedic conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, organic brain syndrome, learning disabilities and mental retardation.
The nature and severity of the disability will be considered in determining if it substantially limits at least one major life activity and requires accommodations and modifications through the development of a 504 Plan. A major life activity includes learning, walking, seeing, hearing speaking, breathing, working, caring for oneself and performing manual tasks.
Determining eligibility for services under Section 504 is a team decision. Team members often include teachers, school administrators, school psychologist, counselor, therapists, the parent and the child, if appropriate. If you have results from psychological or psychiatric evaluations, information about medications or input from your child's physician, you should consider sharing this with the team.
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