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SPAN Guide to Services for Students with Disabilities: IDEA, Section 504, NJ State Code

While IDEA and Section 504 are very similar in their requirements, IDEA has more specific protections than Section 504 for parents and students. Section 504 predates IDEA, and is the first federal legislation to prohibit discrimination based on disability. It has broader coverage than simply education, prohibiting discrimination in employment and public accommodations (such as child care, before and after-school care, municipal recreation programs, etc.) as well.  With the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA, some non-discrimination provisions that had only been in Section 504 (participation in extracurricular and nonacademic activities, such as after-school programs, intramural sports, etc.) were specifically included in IDEA.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 are federal statutes. If there is any inconsistency between these federal statutes and state law or regulation, the federal law rules. The state may grant MORE rights to families and students than the federal law, but it may not grant FEWER rights.