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BAY DISTRICT SCHOOLS’
SECTION 504 PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS,
GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES AND IMPARTIAL HEARING
 
Parents/guardians must be advised of their rights with respect to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They should also receive notice and give consent whenever their child is evaluated, identified, or is involved in a significant change of placement. All decisions made about a student should be based on information acquired from a variety of sources and provided by individuals knowledgeable about the student, the evaluation data, and the placement options. Parents/guardians also have the right to examine all relevant records relating to decisions involving identification, evaluation and placement. Parents/guardians have the right to request mediation, file a local grievance or request a due process hearing to resolve issues relating to the identification, evaluation or placement of their child. These three complaint processes are separate, distinct, and voluntary.
 
MEDIATION
 
When parents/guardians request mediation with respect to the decisions of the Section 504 Intervention Team or Child Study Team considering their child for Section 504 eligibility and/or the recommended accommodations, the request should be given in writing to the school principal who will attempt to resolve the issue within ten (10) school days of the receipt of the written request. The school principal will consult with the Section 504 Coordinator to help resolve complaints.
 
GRIEVANCE
 
Should an attempt to mediate prove unsuccessful, parents or guardians have the right to a District-level grievance process accomplished by filing a written complaint to the District’s Section 504 Coordinator. Use of this procedure is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies and use of this procedure does not extend any filing deadline related to the pursuit of other remedies. The purpose of Section 504 Grievance Procedures is to settle equitably, at the lowest possible administrative level, differences and issues relating to discrimination against students based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These proceedings shall be kept as informal and confidential as may be appropriate at all levels of procedure.
 

IMPARTIAL DUE PROCESS HEARING

Parents or guardians also have the right to voluntarily request an impartial due process hearing at any time. They may do so without first seeking mediation or filing a district level complaint/procedure. An impartial due process hearing shall be conducted through the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (“DOAH”) pursuant to the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (FS Chapter 120). DOAH follows the Uniform Rules of Procedure, which may be accessed at its website. To obtain a due process hearing, a written request should be made to the Section 504 Coordinator. Parents or guardians and the school district have the right to examine all relevant educational records of the student, call and examine witnesses, provide testimony, and to be accompanied and advised by legal counsel in any due process proceeding and any related appeals.

The District will contract with the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to appoint an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) as a Due Process Hearing Officer. Upon receipt of a written request for a due process hearing, the District will schedule such a hearing within thirty (30) school days. The Recommended Order of the Hearing Officer will be communicated to all parties within ten (10) school days of the hearing date.

Please note that if you seek a due process hearing under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the relief sought is also available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), then the due process hearing will be processed under IDEA procedures since if the matter would later be pursued in Federal Court, such a Court would need to have the IDEA claim before it jurisdictionally in order to be able to review a Section 504 claim.

Parents or guardians may request a review of the Due Process Hearing Officer's Recommended Order by the full School Board as final administrative action. The School Board cannot reject or modify the findings of fact made in the recommended order of the ALJ unless it determines that the findings have no basis in fact or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with essential requirements of law. Any party aggrieved by the findings and decision in the hearing may obtain review by bringing a civil action in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a District Court of the United States.

 

OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS ASSISTANCE

Parents/guardians may at any time also request mediation or involvement by the Office for Civil Rights, the federal agency charged with the enforcement responsibility for Section 504. Efforts should be made to assist parents/guardians to resolve disputes on a local level as a first priority. The Office of Civil Rights may be contacted at:
 
United States Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
61 Forsyth Street, SW, Suite 19T70
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Voice Phone: (404) 562-7886
FAX: (404) 562-7881
TDD: (404) 331-2867