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​​​​ ​Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Complaint and Review Process

​​​​​Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a f​ederal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in school admission and educational programs. The purpose of this Complaint and Review Process is to provide a structure for bringing about resolution and reconciliation when disagreements arise between a school family and the school arising out of a student’s physical or mental impairment or disability. [Note that by adhering to Section 504 the archdiocese is not waiving any legal exceptions or exemptions that may apply to it as a religious nonprofit organization.]

Everyone involved in the Complaint and Review Process is to be free from restraint, coercion, discrimination,​ or retaliation in any form. The Complaint and Review Process should be followed when issues arise at the school relating to a child’s disability, and the parties have been unable to reach a resolution with the child’s teachers or other members of the school staff.

The definition of a disability under Section 504 is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Major life activities include breathing, speaking, walking, eating, working, learning, etc. Under Section 504, the standard for a covered private school to provide services to a student with a disability differs from that of a public institution. A public school must provide a student with a disability with “reasonable accommodations” to assist him/her in accessing the education provided in a general education classroom. In contrast, Section 504 only requires certain private schools to make “minor adjustments”—a different and lesser standard than “reasonable accommodations”—to their programs for students with disabilities.

The minor adjustments provided by the school must be documented in order to comply with the requirements of Section 504. In the public school, this documentation is called a Section 504 Plan. A Section 504 Plan applies only to the school that creates the document. It is not transferable and is not applicable to a private school. So, if parents/guardians have a Section 504 Plan that was written for their child by a public school or any other school, that plan is not valid at your school. The minor adjustments provided by the school are documented in the STEP process and in the STEP and are compliant with Section 504.

In the event of a disagreement arising out of a child’s physical or mental impairment or disability, the school shall adhere to the process ​​​that follows.​



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