Complaint Process Under Section 504
AISD encourages parents to raise concerns with the school-level Section 504 Coordinator and/or the school principal, and to resolve issues at the campus level. In addition, two processes are available to parents who have concerns that their student has faced discrimination based on disability. First, parents may challenge any school decision relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement of their student under Section 504 by requesting an impartial hearing. Second, parents may file complaints of any other kind of discrimination based on the student’s disability through the AISD Grievance procedures. Complaints may be filed with the Office for Civil Rights alleging violation of Section 504.
OCR Complaint Process
To access information on forms on filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, please access links:
- How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights
- Complaint Form
- How the Office for Civil Rights Handles Complaints
- Questions and answers on OCR's complaint process
- Notice of Complainant/Interviewee Rights and Protections
- Case Processing Manual (CPM)
- Contact OCR
Relationship with Section 504 and IDEA
Please note that Section 504, a civil rights law, is different from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), a funding statute. Both the IDEA and Section 504 guarantee students with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education. However, there are major differences between them, specifically in the criteria used to determine eligibility and the definition of a free and appropriate public education. For a student to receive special education services under the IDEA, the student’s educational performance must be adversely affected by the disability and the child must be in need of special education services (i.e. specially designed instruction). Section 504 is not limited to specific disability categories and does not require evidence that the disability adversely affects the student’s educational performance. Students who are found not to be eligible for services under the IDEA may be eligible for accommodations under Section 504.
While students who are eligible under IDEA are also often considered to be students with disabilities protected from discrimination under Section 504, all accommodations for the student’s disability are made through the IDEA process. Students who qualify for special education programs and services with a disability listed in the IDEA have their educational plan written in an IEP. That is, a student should not have an Individualized Education Program or “IEP” under the IDEA and also a 504 Plan. Moreover, the Section 504 plan usually outlines the accommodations and services that will allow a child to access the curriculum. A Section 504 plan is less specific than an IEP.
Parents are entitled to the following procedural safeguards under Section 504:
- Notice of any action related to the identification of their child as a student with a disability
- Notice regarding any evaluation of their child to determine eligibility under Section 504
- Notice regarding the accommodations plan or placement for their child under Section 504
- Notice regarding changes in the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child
- An opportunity to review records relevant to their child’s identification, evaluation, or placement under Section 504
- An impartial hearing to contest a school decision regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child, with opportunity for participation by the parent with or without representation by counsel
- An opportunity for an impartial review of the impartial hearing officer’s decision