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The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 § 504 (Section 504)

Section 504 provides that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by the reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”  29 U.S.C. § 794. Section 504, among other things, provides the right to free, appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities, meaning that students with disabilities are entitled to regular or special education and related aids and services designed to adequately meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33. Additionally, Section 504 requires that students with disabilities be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate and that any placement decisions about the student with a disability be made by a group including people with knowledge of the student’s needs, evaluation data, and placement options. 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.34, 104.35(c)(3).

Section 504 also has some specific implications for youth in juvenile facilities. Juvenile facilities are required, under this Act, to provide youth with disabilities with regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individual’s needs as adequately as the needs of the youth’s nondisabled peers are met. Section 504 creates an additional avenue for youth with disabilities to receive services while in detention by requiring that the detention facility provide certain accommodations to students that will allow them to participate in educational programming. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(b)(3).