Determination Questions

When determining whether a disability exists under Section 504, the team must address three questions.

  1. Does the student have a physical or mental impairment?
    The Section 504 team must specify the physical or mental impairment. Medical diagnoses are often helpful, but are not required, nor sufficient for establishing a disability or need for a plan under Section 504. A medical diagnosis or a medication prescription does not by itself establish this.

  2. Does the physical or mental impairment affect one or more major life activities or bodily functions?
    Identify the major life activities or bodily functions impacted by the impairment and how the impairment impacts functioning. A common error is to limit the analysis to learning and to ignore other major life activities and bodily functions. Learning does not have to be impacted for a student to be disabled under Section 504.

  3. Does the physical or mental impairment substantially limit the major life activity or bodily function impacted by the impairment?
    Using evaluation data, determine whether the learning and/or accessibility to other school activities are limited and to what extent as compared to the learning and accessibility provided to the average population.

If the answer to these three questions is YES, then the student is disabled under Section 504, and will receive the nondiscrimination protections of Section 504, including periodic reevaluations, procedural safeguards, and manifestation determinations, where applicable.

Once the team has determined that the student is disabled under Section 504, the team must then address whether the student needs an accommodation plan in order to be educated as adequately as his/her nondisabled peers. In determining the need for Section 504 services (i.e., Section 504 plan), the team must answer one additional question:
  1. Does the student need Section 504 services in order for his/her educational needs to be met as adequately as nondisabled peers?
    If a plan is needed, the student will receive services that are documented in a Section 504 plan that governs the provision of a Section 504 FAPE.
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MYTH: If a parent does not attend a Section 504 meeting, the team cannot proceed with the meeting.

Next: Click to proceed to Mitigating Measures and Section 504 Disability Determination.