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PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL. THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS IS USED BY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AUTOMATED SYSTEMS AND IS NOT MONITORED. Your complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, a copy of which is reproduced below, has been automatically forwarded to the following office for review: Office for Civil Rights/ED Atlanta Office 61 Forsyth St. S.W., Suite 19T70 Atlanta, GA, 30303-3104 So that we can best assist you, we call your attention to the following: 1. If you need to communicate with OCR regarding your complaint before you are contacted directly, please do not reply to this message, which would result in your reply going to a send-only server address. Instead, please direct your correspondence to the above office at OCR.Atlanta@ed.gov. 2. If you need to modify or supplement your complaint, please do not use the complaint form to submit another complaint with the new information. Instead, you may simply send an email to the office that has your complaint. Filing duplicative complaints may impede our ability to review your concerns in a timely manner. (If you have a separate complaint involving other matters, you may of course use this form to submit it.) 3. Remember that before OCR can process your complaint it must receive at the above address a signed copy of the Office for Civil Rights Consent Form, which you can obtain at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-consentform.html. 4. It is recommended that you print a copy of this message and retain it for your records. The following information has been sent to the specified office:
OCR COMPLAINT FORM
1. Enter information about you. Your First Name: Catherine Your Address: 3995 Upolo Lane City: Naples State: FL Zip Code: 34119 Primary Phone No: 239-592-5454 Your Last Name: Cannivet
Best Time to Call You: DAY Alternative Phone No:
Your Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Who else can we call if we cannot reach you? Contact's Name: Theresa Edwards Daytime Phone No: 706-790-9013
Relationship to you: Fellow Special Education Advocate
3. Who was discriminated against? Someone else Injured Person's Name: Class Special Needs Students Relationship to You (eg. son or daughter): Evening Phone No: Injured Person's Address: City: Zip Code: State: GA Daytime Phone No:
4. What institution discriminated? Institution Name: Atkinson County School System Address: 98 East Roberts Avenue City: Pearson State: GA Zip Code: 31642 School or department involved: Special Education
5. Have you tried to resolve the complaint through the institution's grievance process, due process hearing, or with another agency? No Agency Name: Date Filed: (mm/dd/yyyy) Status: Not required for processing complaint
6. Describe the discrimination OCR enforces regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin; sex; disability; and/or age. All that apply: disability
Why you believe the discrimination was because of race, sex, disability, or whatever basis you indicated above or why you believe the action was retaliatory. I believe that discrimination based on disability is rampant in Georgia public schools based on my numerous communications with parents and advocates of special needs children in the state of Georgia, the information I have been provided regarding the number of Office for Civil Rights complaints that have been filed against Georgia public schools,
and the fact that the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has determined, for the previous three consecutive years, Georgia to be a state that “needs assistance” with meeting the requirements and purposes of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Therefore, this is a request for a compliance review of the above name School District to determine whether it has established and implemented, with respect to individuals regarded as having a disability as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act, a system of procedural safeguards that includes an impartial due hearing process consistent with the legal requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. § 104.36. OCR initiates compliance reviews and takes other proactive steps to focus on specific compliance problems that are particularly acute or national in scope or that may not have been raised by complaints. It has been OCR‟s experience that targeted compliance reviews and proactive initiatives increase the impact of OCR‟s resources, complement the complaint resolution process, and can benefit larger numbers of students than sole reliance on complaint resolutions, which may involve only one student per case. OCR is responsible for enforcing Section 504, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 104, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal financial assistance from the Department. OCR is also responsible for enforcing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et sq., and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. As a recipient of Federal financial assistance from the Department and as a public entity, the District is subject to these laws. Accordingly, OCR has jurisdiction to investigate this complaint. The Section 504 implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. § 104.36 provides that "a recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity shall establish and implement, with respect to actions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of persons who, because of disability, need or are believed to need special instruction or related services, a system of procedural safeguards that includes notice, an opportunity for the parents or guardian of the person to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing with opportunity for participation by the person's parents or guardians and representation by counsel, and a review procedure.” Although neither Title II nor its implementing regulation contain a specific provision regarding impartial due process hearings, the Title II implementing regulation, at 28 C.F.R. § 35.103, provides that it "shall not be construed to apply a lesser standard than the standards applied under Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791) or the regulations issued by Federal agencies pursuant to that title." OCR, therefore, interprets Title II consistently with Section 504. With the above principles in mind, please specifically investigate if the District's Section 504 grievance and complaint procedures make clear that a parent has the right to obtain a Section 504 due process hearing without first filing a grievance, submitting to mediation, or going to the Board of Education. Although it is acceptable for a school district to offer mediation as an option to resolving disputes, it cannot be mandatory and, if a parent wishes to proceed directly to an impartial due process hearing, the District must honor that request. The procedures also must make clear that parents may file a grievance or complaint with OCR at any time without exhausting District procedures. Additionally, the procedures must make clear that filing a complaint with OCR will not render moot the District's obligation to honor a Section 504 impartial due process hearing request. Furthermore, the procedures must provide clear notice regarding how a hearing officer's decision can be impartially reviewed, as required by 34 C.F.R. § 104.36. Please review whether the District has adopted Section 504 policies and procedural safeguards that: A. Clarify that the grievance procedure and the Section 504 due process hearing procedure are separate and distinct. B. Specify the rights and procedural steps for each. C. Clarify which issues are appropriate for grievance procedures processing. D. Clarify which issues are appropriate for Section 504 due process hearings. E. State that the parent/guardian has the right to obtain a Section 504 due process hearing i. without going through a grievance procedure; ii. without submitting to mediation, and iii. without going to the Board of Education. F. State that any mediation process in the Section 504 due process hearing process is voluntary and not mandatory. G. Include and define a process by which any party aggrieved by the findings and decision in the due process hearing may appeal and receive an impartial review of that determination consistent with the requirements of 34 C.F.R. 104.36. H. State that if the relief sought under Section 504 and/or Title II is also available under the lndividuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), then the due process hearing request will be processed instead under IDEA due process procedures because, where similar relief is sought, an IDEA due process hearing must be held before a U.S. District Court would have jurisdiction to hear the Section 504 Title II claim. (Note: 28 C.F.R. Part 35, §35.103 – Relationship to other laws: (a) Rule of Interpretation. Except as otherwise provided in this part, this part shall not be construed to apply a lesser standard than the standards applied under title V of the rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791) or the regulations issued by Federal agencies pursuant to that title. (b) Other laws. This part does not invalidate or limit the remedies, rights, and procedures of any other Federal laws, or State or local laws [including State common law] that provide greater or equal protection for
the rights of individuals with disabilities or individuals associated with them.”) I. State that the District recognizes that due process hearings based on claims brought under Section 504 and the same or similar claims filed with OCR for review are alternate remedies and the filing for one does not preclude the other. J. Are made available to parents/guardians and other interested persons on its website, through brochures and/or other published materials containing Section 504 due process rights and procedures in summary form, and distributed in such a manner as to effectively notify interested persons at all times written notice is required under 34 C.F.R. 104 and 28 C.F.R. Part 35. K. Designate and make available the name, office address, and telephone number of the employee responsible to coordinate efforts to comply with the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504, including any investigation of any complaint communicated to such person alleging noncompliance or any actions prohibited by the implementing regulations under 34 C.F.R. 04 or 28 C.F.R. Part 35.
7. Your complaint must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory action When did the last act of discrimination occur? Enter the date: (mm/dd/yyyy) Are you requesting a waiver of the 180-day filing time limit for discrimination that occurred more than 180 days before the filing of this complaint? No.
8. What would you like the institution to do as a result of your complaint - what remedy are you seeking? In addition to any documents required by OCR to conduct the review requested above, the following are items I request OCR to seek from the school district in order to determine compliance with 104.36: 1. For the previous and current (yearly) school terms, copies of parent executed documents depicting their acknowledgment that ADA/504 procedural safeguards, including the name of the employee designated as responsible for 504 issues or complaints, were provided in written form. 2. A copy of their "Notice of Parent/Student Rights and Procedural Safeguards Under Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973" that have been provided to parents/guardians who have executed the parent acknowledgment document. 3. A copy of their ADA/504 Policy Manual, if such a manual exists, in order to determine full compliance and accuracy of information provided. 4. A written description of each location where their ADA/504 Procedural Safeguards and/or ADA/504 Policy Manual is publicly displayed or made available, i.e.: on their website, printed in brochure or written form, publicly displayed in lobbies at the administration buildings or schools, etc. 5. Copies of all requests for Due Process under Section 504, and proof that a 504 hearing was provided to the student, i.e.: copies of the contracts with the individual or entity that conducted the hearing. 6. A written description of the training provided to any district special needs teacher, administrator or other personnel responsible for compliance with disability and civil rights laws under ADA/504, i.e.: School Psychologists, Principals, Section 504 Liaison, School counselors, and any other Support Teams, Section 504 Committees, or other non-school based district personnel responsible for implementing and complying with Section 504. 7. A written description of when, and under which circumstances, the 504 Procedural Safeguards Notice is supplied to parents who are entitled to receive Notice of their child‟s rights and the district‟s responsibilities under Section 504. 8. A copy of any official School Board „adopted‟ Policy referencing compliance with, or implementation of 34 C.F.R. 104.36. If noncompliance is determined with regards to any legal requirements OCR determines are subject to this specific complaint, a Letter of Findings should be issued to the district that includes: (a) Findings of fact and conclusions of law; (b) A description of a remedy for each violation found; and (c) Notice of the rights available.
Do you have written information that you think will help us understand your complaint? Yes
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