Hamden Public Schools District Policies

5145 - Civil and Legal Rights and Responsibilities

It is the policy of the Board of Education to provide a free and appropriate public education to each student with a disability within its jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of Federal funds. 

It is the intent of the district to ensure that students who are disabled within the definition of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate educational services. Students may be disabled under this policy even though they do not require services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A student is qualified for purposes of Section 504 if the student has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Such student is required lo have a free appropriate public education. 

Moreover, the Board of Education does not discriminate in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, any of its programs and activities. 

Due process rights of disabled students and their parents under Section 504 will be enforced. 

The Assistant Superintendent is the Coordinator of Section 504 activities. 

Legal Reference: 

Connecticut General Statutes 

Goals 2000 -Educate America Act 

10-1 Sc Discrimination in public schools prohibited. 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (34 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104) 

 

Policy adopted:  July 12, 2004

Hamden Public Schools     Hamden, Connecticut


5145 Regulation

Statement of Non-Discrimination 

In compliance with Title VII, Title IX and Section _504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, marital status, religion, sexual preference or disability in establishing and implementing hiring and employment practices and establishing and providing school activities and educational programs. 

Grievance Procedure 

I.    Informal Level

  1. Any student, parent/guardian, staff member or applicant to a program who feels that he/she has been, discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual preference or disability shall contact the designated Compliance Coordinator within 30 days of the alleged occurrence to discuss the nature of the complaint.

    The Compliance Coordinator shall maintain a written record which shall contain the following:

    1.    Full name and address of Complainant
    2.    Full name and position of person(s) who allegedly discriminated against the Complainant
    3.    A concise statement of the facts constituting the alleged discrimination
    4.    Dates of the alleged discrimination
     
  2. At the time the alleged discrimination complaint is filed, the Compliance Coordinator will direct the Complainant to the appropriate Principal or Administrator who will investigate the complaint and send a written report to the Coordinator. The Coordinator shall then meet informally with the Complainant and the individuals against whom the complaint was lodged, and shall provide confidential counseling where advisable and shall finally seek an informal agreement between the parties concerned. Every attempt shall be made to seek a solution and resolve the alleged discrimination complaint at this level.
  3. This process shall take no longer than ten (I0) working days from the time the complaint was received.

II.    Formal Level

If the Complainant is not satisfied with these initial informal procedures and within twenty (20) work days from the date of the original discussion with the Coordinator of Section 504, more formal procedures may be initiated by the Complainant to further explore and resolve the alleged discrimination complaint at this level.

  1. The Complainant shall present the written alleged discrimination complaint to the Superintendent or designee who may resolve the complaint alone or with· the appropriate principal/administrator.
  2. The Superintendent or designee shall inform all parties of the date, time and place of the grievance hearing and of their right to present witnesses or representatives, if desired. The designee shall provide assistance to the Complainant in understanding the grievance procedure process. A written record of the hearing shall be kept.

The Superintendent or designee shall hear and fully review the case within (15) days of receipt of the discrimination complaint. A written decision shall be sent to the Complainant within (5) days of the hearing. 

If the complainant is not satisfied with the Superintendent's recommendation he/she may submit a written appeal to the Board of Education within fifteen (15) days of the Superintendent's decision. 

With at least five (5) days notice given prior to the hearing, the Board of Education shall inform all parties involved of the date, time and place of the hearing and of the right to present witnesses and to have legal counsel or other representation, if desired. The Board of Education shall hear all aspects of the appeal and shall reach a decision within twenty (20) days of receipt of the written appeal. The decision shall be presented in writing to the complainant at its next regularly scheduled meeting. 

The time limits as noted throughout may be extended by mutual agreement in writing.

Any person may also file a complaint of illegal discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights, John W. McCormick Post Office and Court House Building, 2nd floor, Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109 or O.C.R. Washington, D.C. at the same time he/she files a grievance, during or after use of the grievance process, or without using the grievance process at all. If a complaint is filed with the Office of Civil Rights, it must be filed in writing no later than 180 days after the occurrence of the possible discrimination. 

Parent/Student Rights 

In Identification, Evaluation and Placement, 
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as Section 504, is a nondiscrimination statute enacted by the United States Congress. The purpose of the Act is to prohibit discrimination and to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students. 

An eligible student under Section 504 is a student who (a) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (b) has a record of having or (c) is regarded as having, a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity such as learning, self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and performing manual tasks. 

Many students will be eligible for educational services under both Section 504 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA} but entitlement to services under the IDEA or other statutes is not required to receive services under Section 504. 

I.    The following is a description of the rights and options granted by federal law to students with disabilities (handicaps). The intent of the law is to keep you fully informed concerning decisions about your child and to inform you of your-rights if you disagree with any of these decisions. You have the right to;

  1. Have your child take part in, and receive benefits from, public education programs without discrimination because of his/her disabling condition.
  2. Have the school district advise you of your rights and options under federal law.
  3. Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement of your child.
  4. Have your child receive a free appropriate public education. This includes the right to be educated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate. It also includes the right to have the school district make accommodations to allow your child an equal opportunity to participate in school and school-related activities.
  5. Have your child educated in facilities and receive services comparable to those provided to non-disabled students.
  6. Have your child receive special education or related services and/or general education intervention/ modifications.
  7. Have evaluation, educational, and placement decisions made based upon a variety of information sources, and by persons who know the student, evaluation data, and placement options.
  8. Have transportation provided to and from an alternative placement setting at no greater cost to you than would be incurred if the student were placed in a program operated by the district.
  9. Have your child given an equal opportunity to participate in non-academic and extra curricular activities offered by the district.
  10. Examine records relating to your child's educational program, including records relations to identification, evaluation and placement.
  11. Obtain copies of educational records at a reasonable cost unless the fee would effectively deny you access to the records. State law provides that you are entitled to receive one free copy of your child's records.
  12. A response from the school district to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of your child's records.
  13. Request amendment of your child's educational records if there is reasonable cause to believe that they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy rights of your child. If the school district refuses this request for amendment, it shall notify your within a reasonable time, and advise you of the right to a hearing. This hearing will be according to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 
  14. Request an impartial hearing, or appeal related to decisions or actions regarding your child's identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement. The costs for the hearing are borne by the local school district.
    You and the student may take part in the hearing and have an attorney represent you at your expense. If you ultimately prevail on the issues raised at the hearing, you may be entitled to payment of all or part of your attorney's fees.
  15. Initiate the hearing process by filing a written request for a hearing with the Superintendent of Schools or designee, indicating the specific areas of disagreement and the remedy that you are requesting. Any such requests should be filed within 45 days of the action or decision with which you disagree.
  16. File a court action if you are dissatisfied with the hearing decision.
  17. File a local grievance to resolve complaints of discrimination other than those involving the identification, evaluation or placement of a student.

II. The person in this district who is responsible for assuring that the district complies with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is:

Assistant Superintendent of Schools
60 Putnam A venue 
Hamden, CT 06517-2825 
(203) 407-2092

III. Organizations and agencies which you may contact to obtain assistance with evaluation/placement questions incl ude, but are not limited to, the following: 

A.    Federal

Office of Civil Rights
Boston Regional Office
(617) 223-9662

B.    State

Department of Education
Bureau of Special Education and Pupil Services
(860) 807-2025

C.    Low-Cost Legal Services

Legal Aid Society of
New London County, Inc.
(860) 447-0323

IV. You also may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, John W. McCormick, Post Office and Court House Building, 2nd Floor, Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109. Any such complaints must be filed within 180 days of the possible act of discrimination.

Impartial Hearing Requirement 

The District shall conduct when requested an impartial hearing for parents or guardians of students with disabilities under Section 504 concerning the identification, evaluation, or education placement of a student with a disability. The Connecticut State Department of Education does not conduct these hearings. 

The hearing officer selected by the District to conduct these hearings may not be a District employee involved in the student's care or education; have a personal or professional interest in the child; be a Board member; or be involved in the formulation of state policy affecting students with disabilities. 

The hearing officer may only review issues related to the identification, evaluation or placement of a child with a disability. The Section 504 hearing office􀀷 does not have jurisdiction to hear claims alleging discrimination, harassment or retaliation unless such a claim is directly related to the District's failure to provide the student with a free, appropriate public education (F APE). The Section 504 hearing officer may not hear discrimination, harassment or retaliation clai_ms which are not a part of an issue related to identification, evaluation or placement of a child with a disability. 

Parents/guardians utilizing these Section 504 procedural safeguards are not legally entitled to state mediation, state advisory opinion, state hearing or com. plaint . resolutions. These procedures, under IDEA, are not part of Section 504 procedures. 
To ensure fundamental fairness, the child's current agreed-upon placement shall be maintained while a Section 504 hearing is pending. 

The Section 504 hearing is not an IDEA hearing and has a narrower due process focus. Minimum necessary procedures for Section 504 include: notice, a right to inspect records, an impartial hearing with a right to representation by counsel and a review procedure. There is no requirement that cross-examinations be allowed or that a court reporter be provided. (See Form "Section 504 Parental Rights") 

Information Regarding -The American With Disabilities Act and 
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination against person with a disability in any program receiving Federal financial assistance. 

A person with a disability is anyone who: 

  1. has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity (major life activities such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working);
  2. has a record of such impairment; or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

In order to fulfill its obligation under the law, the District recognizes a responsibility to avoid discrimination in its policies and practices. No discrimination against any person with a disability will knowingly be permitted in any of the programs and practices of the school system. 

The school district has specific responsibilities under the law, which include the responsibility to identify and evaluate students who may be eligible under Section 504 in order to afford access to appropriate educational services. 

If the parent or guardian disagrees with the determination made by the professional staff of the school district, he/she has a right to request a hearing with an impartial hearing officer. 

If there are questions, please contact the Civil Rights Coordinator for the school district, at (203-404-2000) between the hours of 8:00 AM. and 4:00 P.M. 

Provisions of Services: 

1.    Merely being classified under Section 504 does not mean the child should be taught by other than the regular subject area endorsed classroom teacher or unless:

a.    The child's written plan must describe the circumstances that prevent the child from receiving instruction from the regular certified teacher.
b.    The child requires services in a setting other than the regular education classroom.

2.    A Section 504 student may receive direct instruction from a certified special education teacher.

 

Regulation approved:  July 12, 2004

Hamden Public Schools     Hamden, Connecticut


5145 - Form

Section 504 Parental Rights* 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides services for students identified as having a disability as defined by the ACT, which substantially limits a major life activity. You have the following rights: 

  1. The right to be informed of your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  2. The right for your child to have equal opportunities to participate in academic, non-academic and extracurricular activities in your school.
  3. The right to be notified about referral, evaluation and programs for your child.
  4. The right for your child to be evaluated fairly.
  5. The right, if eligible for services under Section 504, for your child to receive accommodations, modifications, and related services that will meet the child's needs as well as the needs of students without disabilities are met. 
  6. The right for your child to be educated with peers who do not have disabilities as much as possible.
  7. The right to an impartial hearing if you disagree with the school regarding your child's educational program.
  8. The right to review and obtain copies of your child's records.
  9. The right to request attorney fees related to securing your rights under Section 504.
  10. The right to request changes in the educational program of your child.

*Provided by the Boston Regional Office of OCR and meets the requirements 011 Section 504