Public elementary and secondary schools must employ procedural safeguards regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of persons who, because of disability, need or are believed to need special instruction or related services.

Must a recipient school district obtain parental consent prior to conducting an initial  evaluation?

Yes. OCR has interpreted Section 504 to require districts to obtain parental permission for initial evaluations. If a district suspects a student needs or is believed to need special instruction or related services and parental consent is withheld, the IDEA and Section 504 provide that districts may use due process hearing procedures to seek to override the parents’ denial of consent for an initial evaluation.

If so, in what form is consent required?

Section 504 is silent on the form of parental consent required. OCR has accepted written consent as compliance. IDEA as well as many state laws also require written consent prior to initiating an evaluation.

What can a recipient school district do if a parent withholds consent for a student to secure services under Section 504 after a student is determined eligible for services?

Section 504 neither prohibits nor requires a school district to initiate a due process hearing to override a parental refusal to consent with respect to the initial provision of special education and related services. Nonetheless, school districts should consider that IDEA no longer permits school districts to initiate a due process hearing to override a parental refusal to consent to the initial provision of services.

What procedural safeguards are required under Section 504?

Recipient school districts are required to establish and implement procedural safeguards that include notice, an opportunity for parents to review relevant records, an impartial hearing with opportunity for participation by the student’s parents or guardian, representation by counsel and a review procedure.

What is a recipient school district’s responsibility under Section 504 to provide information to parents and students about its evaluation and placement process?

Section 504 requires districts to provide notice to parents explaining any evaluation and placement decisions affecting their children and explaining the parents’ right to review educational records and appeal any decision regarding evaluation and placement through an impartial hearing.

Is there a mediation requirement under Section 504?