What is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability and requires that qualified individuals with disabilities be provided equal access to educational programs and services.
Procedural Safeguards/Parent Rights
There are several times during the planning process when parents/guardians should be provided their rights under Section 504:
-When eligibility is determined.
-When a plan is developed.
-Before there is a significant change in the plan for services.
Notification should include the following rights under Section 504:
- Right to file a grievance with the school district over an alleged violation of Section 504 regulations.
- Right to have an evaluation that draws on information from various sources.
- Right to be informed of any proposed actions related to eligibility and plan for services.
- Right to examine all relevant records.
- Right to receive all information in the parents/guardian’s native language and primary mode of communication.
- Right to periodic re-evaluations and an evaluation before any significant change in program/service modifications.
- Right to an impartial hearing if there is disagreement with the school district’s proposed action.
- Right to be represented by counsel in the impartial hearing process.
- Right to appeal the impartial hearing officer’s decision.
*Section 504 regulations do not establish timelines for submission of a hearing request.
*Section 504 regulations do not define “impartial.” However, in similar processes, impartial has been defined as a person not employed by or under contract with the district in any capacity.
*Section 504 regulations do not require that the selection of the hearing officer be a mutually agreed upon decision between the school district and the parents/guardians.