Parent Due Process Rights
Under Section 504, parents have a right to challenge district decisions regarding the identification, evaluation and educational placement of their child. Prior to taking any action regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement, districts must notify the student’s parents and provide them an opportunity to challenge the action/decision if they disagree. The parent’s due process rights include:
- Prior notice of any action
- A right to inspect records
- An impartial hearing with a right to counsel
- A review procedure
School districts must obtain parent consent before initiating an evaluation for 504 services as well as before placing a child on a 504 Plan. If a parent refuses consent to either initial evaluation or placement, the district may, but is not required to, initiate a Section 504 Due Process hearing to override the refusal of consent.
A district must notify parents, but need not obtain consent, before reevaluating a student or significantly changing their placement.
Inspection of Records
Parents have a right to information regarding the district’s identification, evaluation, refusal to provide an evaluation, and educational placement. They also have a right to information pertaining to the denial of 504 services and any significant change in the services provided to their child. Such information must be provided in a timely manner so parents have ample opportunity to examine and consider relevant records.
Parents have the right to an impartial hearing, including participation by the parents and their counsel, concerning the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of their child. They may appeal the final decision of an impartial hearing officer to a court of competent jurisdiction.
AEA Mediation (Resolution Facilitation)
Parents can resolve disputes concerning Section 504 identification, evaluation or placement without resorting to a formal hearing or civil suit. Heartland AEA 11 provides trained mediators to help parents and districts reconcile their differences in an informal setting. Mediators from other AEAs are also available if impartiality is a concern. Parents are not required to use this process, but many prefer its informal voluntary nature. For more information, go to AEA Mediation Resolution Facilitation
Office for Civil Rights
The Office for Civil Rights is the federal entity with primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. More information including links to Section 504, OCR guidance, and how to file a complaint at the federal level is available by first going to Office of Civil Rights and clicking on “Office Contacts.”