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The 2015 Wellness Promotion Policy Annual Report
The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida
Exceptional Student Education - Section 504 Accommodation Plan
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is federal civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in any program receiving federal financial assistance, including public schools. In the school environment, the purpose of Section 504 is to ensure that eligible students have educational opportunities equivalent to those of their nondisabled peers. It is often said that Section 504 “levels the playing field” for all students attending public schools. Section 504 states:

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any other program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. 42 U.S.C. § 794.

To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities are broadly defined to include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Major life activities also include the operation of major bodily functions, including but not limited to: functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. Please note that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is also a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Each District school has a designated Section 504 Designee responsible for facilitating the process for eligible students and coordinating the implementation of individualized accommodation plans. During the 2014-2015 school year, the District served 8,389 eligible students under Section 504.

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Students may have disabilities that are not readily noticeable. Section 504 provides them with appropriate accommodations necessary to access, and participate in, activities available for all students. The evaluation and identification process allows for stakeholders to develop a greater understanding of how a particular disability will impact a child, thus allowing for informed decision making and development of quality plans. The ultimate outcome being a successful experience for the student.
Amy Brown, ESE Coordinator, Area 3
When families and school teams follow a process and find that a student has a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973) ensures a free appropriate public education for students with a disability. The team process allows collaboration with families, school staff and at times, community stakeholders, such as medical professionals and therapists, to determine accommodations that allow opportunities for academic and social success in school.
Cheryl Harris, SEDNET Project Manager/ESE Specialist, Palm Beach County
When one of our students presents with a documented disability which negatively impacts a major life activity, the 504 Plan has been able to provide accommodations. The implementation of this plan creates a learning environment beneficial for our students, allowing them the potential to succeed.
Chris Huff, ESE Contact and 504 Designee, Timber Trace Elementary School
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