Hearing Procedures for Section 504
Initiation of Due Process Procedures. A parent who wishes to challenge a District’s action or omission with regard to the identification, evaluation, or placement of a disabled child must submit a written request for a hearing to the District’s Special Student Services Division. Such written request must make clear that the parent is seeking a hearing under §504 before an impartial §504 hearing officer. If an intent to seek a hearing under §504 is not clear, a District representative may contact the parent to clarify the request and the issues to be resolved. A District representative may also contact the parent to ascertain if the parent is interested in participating in mediation.
Parent Participation and Representation. A parent has the right to participate, speak, and present information at the hearing and to be represented by legal counsel or any type of advocate of his or her choice at his or her expense. If a parent is to be represented by an attorney at the hearing, he or she must inform in writing the school district's 504 Coordinator in the Compliance & Program Evaluation Department at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing date. Failure to notify the §504 Coordinator in writing shall constitute good cause for continuance of the hearing date. (See “Continuances,” below.)
Appointment of a Hearing Officer. The District will appoint an impartial Hearing Officer to preside over the hearing and issue a decision. The Hearing Officer shall not be a current employee of the District.
Scheduling of Hearing. The District’s §504 Coordinator shall set the hearing date and time in writing. Such hearing date shall be within thirty (30) days after the parent’s hearing request is received by the District, unless a continuance is granted for good cause. (See “Continuances”, below)
Continuances. Upon a showing of good cause, the Hearing Officer, at his or her discretion, may grant a continuance of the hearing date and set a new hearing date.
Conduct of Hearing. The hearing shall be closed to the public. The parties are free to provide the Hearing Officer with information or opinions as to the validity and weight to be given the information presented to him or her. As part of their presentation, the parties may submit any reports, evaluations, correspondence, notes, or any other documents that may support their positions and that the Hearing Officer will admit at his or her discretion.
Recording. The entire due process hearing will be audio recorded. The parent may obtain a copy of the audio recording at his or her request. If a parent proceeds to appeal the hearing decision (See “Appeal Procedure” ), the District will prepare a written transcript of the hearing tape recording to be offered to the court as an exhibit.
Witnesses. Witnesses will be questioned directly by the party who calls them. Cross-examination of witnesses will be allowed. The Hearing Officer, at his or her discretion, may ask questions of the witnesses. As moving party, the parent may present his or her case first.
Closing of Hearing. The Hearing Officer may make an oral ruling at the conclusion of the hearing or take the case under advisement, but must in all cases issue a written opinion addressing and ruling on all issues raised by the Parent and indicating what corrective action, if any, the District must take. The decision must be issued to both parties within fifteen (15) days after the hearing.
Remedies and Relief. The Hearing Officer must confine his or her orders and rulings to those matters which involve identification, evaluation, or placement of children under §504 and to the provisions of the regulations implementing §504. A Hearing Officer may not award attorneys’ fees as part of relief granted to a parent.
Appeal Procedure. If not satisfied by the decision of the Hearing Officer, any party may appeal the hearing decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.
Complaints to the Office for Civil Rights. At any time, a parent may file a complaint with Office for Civil Rights if he or she believes that the school district has violated any provision or regulation of §504. The filing of a complaint does not affect the hearing process or the timelines set forth above. The Office for Civil Rights will address §504 complaints separately and independently of the local hearing process, in accordance with the guidelines set forth in its Complaint Resolution Manual.
§504 Coordinator. For general questions or concerns, the school district’s §504 Coordinator may be contacted as noted below:
Submission of Written Documents. Initiation of a hearing, notification of the intent to be represented by an attorney, or submission of any other written documents pertinent to a hearing request should be sent to Jeff Tysinger, Ph.D., at the above address.