OCR Releases New Section 504 Guidance

February 21, 2024

This week, the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education released four new resource documents to “inform students with disabilities, and their families and schools, about their legal rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”

The four new resources address common medical conditions that can be disabilities for purposes of Section 504: asthma, diabetes, food allergies and GERD.

These resources, which are applicable to all levels of education, explain when these medical conditions trigger protections under Section 504, what kind of modifications a district may need to take to avoid unlawful discrimination, and what an institution may need to do to remedy past discrimination. For example, a student with asthma or diabetes, should be allowed to make up work, without penalty, and excusing late arrivals and absences when they miss class due to a medical appointments or when their asthma or low blood sugar hinders their ability to complete assignments. Other examples in the documents focus on what a district can do if it violates the Section 504 rights of a student with a food allergy or with GERD. AASA encourages you to check these resources out and share them with your team.