Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. The Section 504 regulations require a school district 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.
Section 504 and the ADA protect qualified individuals with disabilities. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. Under Section 504 and the ADA, a person is a qualified individual with a disability if he or she meets the essential requirements for receipt of services or benefits, or participation in the programs or activities of a covered entity. The question of whether a particular condition is a disability within the meaning of Section 504 and the ADA is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Any individual who believes that he or she or a specific individual or class of individuals has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, in a health or human service program or activity conducted by a covered entity, may file a complaint with OCR. Complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination. OCR may extend the 180-day deadline if you can show "good cause." Include the following information in your written complaint, or request a Discrimination Complaint Form from the Boston OCR Regional office (complaints must be signed by the complainant or an authorized representative).
Any formal complaints must be sent to:
Office for Civil Rights
US Department of Education
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3921
Telephone: (617) 289-0111
FAX: (617) 289-0150; TDD: 877-521-2172
For information on 504s from the US Department of Education:
Your rights under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Office of Civil Rights): http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/factsheets/504.pdf
Although the Department of Education neither enforces Section 504 nor provides impartial hearings pertaining to Section 504, the New Hampshire Department of Education does encourage the parties to enter informal processes to resolve the dispute at the local level and, if resolution at the local level is deemed unreachable, does offer Department scheduled-mediation for a variety of matters, including Section 504 (please see Users’ Guide to Administrative Process for information about Department-scheduled mediation). Please be aware that although mediation is encouraged, mediation should not hinder the right to a 504 hearing.
The New Hampshire Department of Education will respond to questions concerning Section 504.
Section 504 Coordinator
21 South Fruit Street Suite 20
Concord, NH 03301
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