Does the AZ Office of Dispute Resolution investigate allegations that a school is not implementing a student’s 504 accommodation plan?
No. The Arizona Department of Education/Dispute Resolution is only authorized to investigate allegations that a school has violated a requirement of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations, or special education laws and rules found within the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) and Title 7 of the Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.). Allegations regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are investigated by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Denver Office, United States Department of Education, Federal Building, Suite 310, 08-7010, 1244 Speer Boulevard, Denver, Colorado 80204-3582. For more information, visit the ESS webpage on 504 Accommodation Plans.
If an IEP team determines that a child is no longer eligible for special education, does that child automatically get a Section 504 accommodation plan?
No. A 504 accommodation plan is not a consolation prize for a student no longer eligible under the IDEA. To be eligible under Section 504, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. When considering whether a child is qualified under Section 504, a school must conduct a separate inquiry to determine whether or not that child meets 504 eligibility requirements. For more information on Section 504 and students with disabilities, visit OCR’s Section 504 FAQ.
Is the FAPE standard the same under IDEA and Section 504?
No, but there are similarities. Under the IDEA, FAPE means special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; meet the standards of the State; include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and are provided in conformity with an IEP. [34 C.F.R. § 300.17] Under Section 504, FAPE refers to “the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met and is based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the Section 504 requirements pertaining to educational setting, evaluation and placement, and procedural safeguards.” [Protecting Students with Disabilities/Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCR online document)] Essentially, the IDEA focuses on students’ progress in relation to their unique needs, while Section 504 considers whether students with disabilities are receiving educational services as effective as those made available to their nondisabled peers.
What is difference between Section 504 and the IDEA?
The IDEA is an education law – a grant statute that funds special education programs and entitles each eligible child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education. Section 504 (part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), on the other hand, is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The Arizona Department of Education/Dispute Resolution can investigate allegations that there has been a violation of Part B of the IDEA, but it has no authority to investigate allegations that there has been a violation of Section 504. Allegations involving possible violations of Section 504 are investigated by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the United States Department of Education. For more information on Section 504 and students with disabilities, visit OCR's Section 504 FAQ.