Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity provided by school districts of other educational providers who receive federal funding. Section 504 specifically prohibits a school district from excluding an "otherwise qualified individual with a disability" from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal funding.The purpose of Section 504 is to ensure that qualifying students are provided educational activities equivalent to their nondisabled peers. It is important to remember that Section 504 is not only a statute that prohibits discrimination, but it also requires school districts to provide appropriate education services, which may include special education, related aids and services, and accommodations, to qualifying students.How is "disability" defined under Section 504?Section 504 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.A physical impairment is a medical condition or disorder of bodily function.A mental impairment is a cognitive, learning or psycholgical disorder.A major life activity includes seeing, hearing speaking walking, bending, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, and other similar types of activities.Major life activities also include bodily functions such as breathing, sleeping, neurological functioning, bowel/bladder functioning and other bodily functions.A substantial limitation means that the student is significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which a student can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the average student population.Under Section 504, students with a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity are entitled to a free appropriate public education, including accommodations or supports that are designed to meet the individual education needs of a student with a disability as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.Who should be referred for Section 504 consideration?Parents and teachers should refer any student who is suspected of having a physical or mental impairment and who is believed to need accommodations or supports to receive a free appropriate public education.How is a referral made?A parent or teacher may begin the referral process by talking to the school's principal, assistant principal or the school counselor (who is also the 504 coordinator).Who should I contact for more information about Section 504?Vickie Dickerson is the District's 504 Coordinator. She may be reached at (406)363-2121. Each building has a 504 case manager. At Hamilton Middle School the 504 case manager is your school counselor.