Section 504 Grievance Procedures

  • I.       Policy

    It is the policy of the School Board of Osceola County, Florida, to provide a learning and working environment free from discrimination. To that end, the District requests students, parents, and employees to assist the Superintendent and the School Board in identifying barriers to a discrimination-free environment in our schools. The following Grievance Procedure is provided as an avenue to expeditious, prompt, and equitable processing of complaints toward the elimination of unlawful discrimination. This procedure shall address complaints of discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, carried out by employees, students, or third parties under the control and authority of the School Board. It is the intent of the School Board that complaints pursuant to this procedure be promptly, equitably, and impartially investigated, allowing the grievant and the subject of the grievance to present witnesses and evidence concerning the complaint.

    1.  Definitions 

    Grievance: A complaint alleging a violation of any policy, procedure, or practice which would be prohibited by Section 504 and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes complaints alleging a failure of the District to appropriately identify, evaluate, or provide services to a student pursuant to Section 504{34 C.F.R. §104.36). Synonymous with the term "complaint."

    Grievant:  A student, parent, or employee of The School Board of Osceola County, Florida, who submits a grievance.

    District Section 504 Contact: The employee designated to coordinate the District’s efforts to facilitate processing complaints.

    Day: A working school day; the calculation of days in grievance processing shall exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and school holidays.

    2.  Procedure

    Level I:  The grievant should first discuss the issue with the teacher, school counselor, school Section 504 designee, and/or school administrator involved with the objective of resolving the matter promptly and informally. However, this is a voluntary process, not a required step, and the grievant may choose to skip this step and proceed directly to Level II. If the grievant initiates a Level I discussion, the grievant is not obligated to complete the Level I discussion.   Rather, the grievant may at any time withdraw from the Level I process and pursue formal grievance starting at Level II.

    Level II: If the grievance is not resolved informally, the grievant may file a written grievance. The grievance must be made in writing and filed with the District's Section 504 Contact, Angela Burdue, Supervisor of Psychological Services, District Section 504 Facilitator. This is Angela Burdue's contact information:

    Cara Walls
    Supervisor of Psychological Services
    Department of Student Services
    The School District of Osceola County, FL

    1200 Vermont Avenue
    St. Cloud, FL 34769
    Phone: (407)870·4897
    Fax: (407)870·4879

    The grievance may be sent to the District Section 504 Contact via email, regular mail, facsimile, or in person at the Department of Student Services.

    The grievance should include the following information: 1) the nature of the grievance; 2) the remedy requested; and 3) be dated and signed by the grievant. The grievance must be filed within 30 days after the event or incident leading to the grievance. The District Section 504 Contact has the authority to investigate all grievances and attempt to resolve the complaint, or the District Section 504 Contact may designate an appropriately qualified School District employee to perform the investigation. As part of the investigation, the District Section 504 Contact or her designee shall interview witnesses and accept evidence submitted by both the grievant and the subject of the complaint. Within 30 days after receiving the grievance, the District Section 504 Contact or her designee shall provide written notification to the grievant and the subject of the complaint of the outcome of the investigation.

    Level III: If the grievant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the grievant may request an impartial hearing. The grievant must request an impartial hearing pursuant to this procedure within 30 days after receiving the written notification of the outcome of the investigation at Level IL The District Section 504 Contact will appoint an impartial hearing officer. The hearing officer will conduct the hearing within 30 days after the request for hearing is received.

    A hearing officer shall give the parent, student, or employee a full and fair opportunity to present witnesses and evidence relevant to the issues raised in the grievance. The subject of the complaint shall be afforded the same rights. The parties may, at their own expense, be assisted or represented by individuals of their own choice, including an attorney. The hearing officer shall make his/her decision in writing and provide the written decision to the parties within 30 days after the hearing.

    Level IV:  If the grievant disagrees with the decision of the hearing officer, the grievant may file a written appeal with the School Board of Osceola County, which will render a written decision within 30 days of receipt of the appeal. The School Board of Osceola County's contact information is as follows:  817 Bill Beck Blvd. Kissimmee, FL 34744, (407)870-4600.

    If the grievant does not agree with the decision issued pursuant to Level IV, the grievant may bring an action in state or federal court.

    1.  Complaint before the Office for Civil Rights 

    At any time during this process, or even if the grievant chooses not to utilize this process, the grievant may file a complaint with the:

    Office for Civil Rights
    U.S. Department of Education Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 1. 9T 70
    61 Forsyth St., S.W. Atlanta, GA 30303-8927
    Telephone: (404)974.;9406
    Fax: (404)974-9471

    2.  Retaliation Prohibited

    There shall be no reprisal against any individual who has reported or filed a grievance alleging a violation of Section 504 and/or the ADA. There shall be no reprisal against any witnesses identified as having information regarding the alleged violation of Section 504 and/or the ADA pursuant to this procedure.

    3.  Remedial Action

    The District will take remedial action, if appropriate given the outcome of the process, to address and resolve any found incident of discrimination and to take steps to prevent the recurrence of any discrimination. Such remedial action may include, as appropriate, 1) disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination if the subject of the complaint is an employee; 2) strategies to protect the grievant and/or witnesses from retaliation; 3) counseling for the grievant; 4) any other steps identified by the District Section 504 Contact, the impartial hearing officer, or the School Board, to address any impact on the grievant, any witnesses, and/or the broader student body; and 5) any other necessary or prudent steps reasonably calculated to prevent further occurrences of discrimination.