Ethics and Law for School Psychologists

By Susan Jacob; Dawn M. Decker et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
SECTION 504 AND THE AMERICANS
WITH DISABILITIES ACT
This chapter begins with a summary of those portions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 most pertinent to school psychological practice. Special attention is given to similarities and differences between Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA) regarding school responsibilities to students with disabilities. We also provide a brief overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA).
SECTION 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities in school systems receiving federal financial assistance. Contemporary interpretations suggest that schools must attend to three types of potential discrimination prohibited by law:
1. Section 504 prohibits public schools from excluding students from participating in school programs and activities solely on the basis of a disability.
2. It requires schools to take effective steps to prevent harassment on the basis of disability.
3. It requires schools to make accommodations to ensure that students with disabilities have opportunities to benefit from its programs and activities that are equal to those provided to students without disabilities.

Passed in 1973, Section 504 was initially misunderstood or ignored by the schools. Beginning in the late 1980s, however, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforcement activities, court decisions, and parent advocacy efforts heightened awareness of Section 504, and the law subsequently began to impact school practices. School psychologists must be knowledgeable about Section 504 and its role in safeguarding the right to equal educational opportunity for students with a broad range of physical and mental impairments.

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