Section 504 and ESL Services
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires school districts to provide the full range of special accommodations and services necessary for students with special needs to participate in and benefit from public education programs and activities. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by school districts receiving federal financial assistance. Students with disabilities must be provided with a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE).
Section 504 protects all students with disabilities, defined as those having any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include but are not limited to caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 also includes “the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, the function of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.”
An ESL program shall be an intensive program of instruction in English from teachers trained in recognizing and dealing with language differences. The ESL program shall be designed to consider the students’ learning experiences and shall incorporate the cultural aspects of the students’ backgrounds. Students enrolled in the ESL program shall be placed in classes with other students of approximately the same age and level of educational attainment. The District shall ensure that each student’s instruction is appropriate to the student’s level of educational attainment, and the District shall keep adequate records of the educational level and progress of each student enrolled in the program.