What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly called “Section 504,” is a federal law that protects students from discrimination based on disability. Section 504 assures that students with disabilities have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to students without disabilities. To be eligible, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.

The Section 504 Process

Eligible Section 504 students have the right to an evaluation before the school determines if he or she is eligible under Section 504. These parents have the right to: 

  • Receive notice before the school takes any action regarding the identification, evaluation, and placement of the student. 
  • Have evaluation and placement decisions made by a group of persons, often called a “504 team,” including people who know the student, the meaning of the evaluation information, and the placement options available. 
  • Have evaluation decisions based on a variety of sources. Examples of sources include, but are not limited to the following: grades or progress reports, parent(s)/legal guardian(s) input, teacher input, observations, disciplinary referrals, and formal testing. 
  • Refuse consent for the evaluation and provision of services under Section 504. 
  • Develop a Section 504 plan when accommodations and related services are necessary to receive a free appropriate public education to access equal educational opportunities. 

Eligible students under Section 504, have the right to periodic reevaluations, including reevaluations before any significant change is made in the student’s program and/or placement. Should a parent have any questions or concerns regarding the student’s Section 504 plan, contact the student’s school administrator or complex area superintendent for assistance. 

If You Disagree With the School’s Decision 

If the parent(s) of an eligible Section 504 student disagrees with the school’s decision regarding their child’s identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement under Section 504, the parent(s) may request mediation or an impartial due process hearing. The parent(s) and their child have the right to take part in the hearing and have an attorney represent them. Requests for an impartial due process hearing are to be filed in writing to the complex area superintendent of the student’s school. The following is a direct link to the “Section 504 Request for Impartial Due Process Hearing” form.

Parent(s) of eligible Section 504 students have the right to file a complaint of discrimination with the Department’s Civil Rights Compliance Branch. 

Hawaiʻi State Department of Education 
Civil Rights Compliance Branch 
PO Box 2360 
Honolulu, HI 96804 
Phone: (808) 586-3322 

Parent(s) of eligible Section 504 students also have the right to file with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). 

U.S. Department of Education 
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) 
915 Second Ave, Room 3310 
Seattle, WA 98174-1099

Rights of Parents and Students under Section 504, Subpart D and Hawaii Law and Regulations


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