Section 504 Resources

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”) prohibits discrimination against disabled persons, including students and staff members, by schools receiving federal financial assistance. Included in the US Department of Education Regulations for Section 504 is the requirement that disabled students be provided with free appropriate public education (FAPE). As such, SEED DC is required to provide the full range of special accommodations and services necessary for students with disabilities to participate in and benefit from its education programs and activities. The regulations require identification, evaluation, the provision of appropriate services (a 504 Plan) and procedural safeguards. The regulations also require that parents or guardian be provided with notice of actions affecting the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student and are entitled to an impartial hearing if they disagree with district decisions in these areas.


“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States….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 program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….”. The Section 504 regulations require SEED DC to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Eligibility Criteria:

Under Section 504, a student eligible for FAPE is any student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.

What is a Physical or Mental Impairment?

  • Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body systems – neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine.
  • This definition includes such diseases and condition as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impediments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, attention deficit disorder (ADD), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and human immune deficiency virus (HIV+)
  • Any mental or psychological disorder such as but not limited to mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

What is the meaning of Substantial Limitation?
The term “substantially limits” is not explicitly defined by Section 504. However, the following should be considered when determining if a student is substantially limited in performing a major life activity:

  • In order to meet this standard, the student must be unable to perform a major life activity that the student’s average peers can perform OR, the student must be restricted to a substantial degree as to the condition, manner, or duration under which the major life activity is performed by the student’s average peers.
  • An impairment need not prevent or severely or significantly limit a major life activity to be considered “substantially limiting.” Nonetheless, not every impairment will be substantially limiting.
  • The term “substantially limits” should be construed broadly and determination of substantial limitation should not require an extensive analysis.
  • The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity requires an individualized assessment.

504 Parent Referral Form
504 Notice of Parental Rights 

If you have questions about Section 504 or believe that your child may be eligible for a 504 Plan, please contact Stacey Pearl, Director of Student Support Services, at 202-248-3015, or at