California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Your Special Needs Child's Legal Rights

Overview of the IDEA in comparison to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA and California Education Code

The IDEA is unique in comparison to Section 504 and the ADA in that the IDEA provides federal funding to states specifically for special education programs and related services.

Section 504 is a non-discrimination statute that makes it illegal for federally funded programs to discriminate against an individual based upon her disability. Section 504 requires public entities to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to the extent that the accommodation does not fundamentally alter the program.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is similar to Section 504 except that there is no federal funding requirement. In other words, even private entities (private schools) not receiving federal funds are subject to the ADA’s anti-discrimination provisions and are mandated to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled persons.

The California Education Code provides educational rights similar to what the IDEA and Section 504 provide to children with disabilities. In some cases, the California Education Code grants more rights and privileges to children than they would otherwise receive under federal law.