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December 17, 2003

School and Daycare

Question from Wayne, Illinois, USA:

Does my son have any rights under section 504 in a Catholic school in Illinois?


Section 504 of the Americans With Disabilities Act protects those with a recognized disability from discrimination in employment or in access to services, like public education. Institutions that must provide accommodations or services to those protected by Section 504 are limited to those that receive financial assistance from the Federal government. Since it is unlikely that the Catholic Diocese receives federal aid for its schools, they are not required to provide 504 services. However, the public school district may provide services to all children who live within its boundaries. I would contact the special education coordinator in your local school district to learn more about services or assistance that could be provided to your child or your family. If your local district is of no assistance, you can contact the State Board of Education, Office of Special Education through their homepage.

Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

Do they receive federal dollars? If yes, you do, if not, you don’t, as I understand things. Have you tried working with the nurse at the school? I haven’t experienced much trouble with private schools. They usually work with parents.

Additional comments from Dr. Donough O’Brien:

It will depend on whether the particular school system gets any Federal Support and you should read Your School and Your Rights on the ADA web site. As always though there can be a gap between ‘rights’ and the actual funds available and the important goal should always be to try to find a way to solve a particular problem in a non-confrontational way.