The Lynchburg City School Board does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability. The Lynchburg City School Board has established this policy as a way to provide prompt and impartial review of complaints alleging any action prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This policy provides an optional resolution procedure for a complainant. This procedure is not a prerequisite before a complainant may directly pursue any other remedy available under state or federal law. However, the policy of Lynchburg City School Board is for students, parents/guardians and employees to have the opportunity to make concerns known to the School Board and for the School Board to have the opportunity to respond to and resolve concerns as rapidly as practicable.
The goal of these procedures is to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, meet appropriate due process standards, assure School Board compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and provide a prompt, equitable and impartial resolution of complaints alleging a violation of Section 504.
Any student or any parent or guardian of a student may be a complainant and may file a formal or informal grievance as provided below.
A. Formal Procedure
1. Filing a Complaint
Any complainant should submit a complaint alleging discrimination as soon as possible to the Compliance Officer or to any other school or School Division staff. The complaint shall be submitted within 45 school days of the alleged discrimination. Any employee who has knowledge of conduct which may constitute discrimination shall immediately report such conduct to the Compliance Officer, the employee’s supervisor, or to any other school or School Division staff. Any employee who receives a complaint under this policy shall immediately forward the complaint to the Compliance Officer
The complainant should use the “Complaint of Discrimination” form (see end of this policy) to make a complaint of discrimination. However, oral complaints shall also be accepted. The complaint should be filed with the school principal, other school or school division staff, or the Compliance Officer. School or school division staff receiving a complaint of discrimination shall forward it to the school principal; who shall immediately forward the complaint of discrimination to the Compliance Officer. Any complaint that involves the Compliance Officer shall be reported to the Superintendent. Any complaint that involves the Superintendent shall be reported to the School Board Chair.
The complaint and the identity of the complainant, the individual who is the subject of the complaint (if other than the complainant), and the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination will not be disclosed except as required by law or policy, as necessary to fully investigate the complaint, or as authorized by the complainant.
Upon receipt of a report or complaint of discrimination, the Compliance Officer shall immediately authorize or undertake an investigation. The investigation may be conducted by school staff or a third party designated by the School Division. The investigation shall be completed as soon as practicable, but not later than 15 school days after receipt of the complaint of alleged discrimination by the Compliance Officer unless the extension below is exercised. Within 3 school days of receiving the complaint, the Compliance Officer shall send written notice that the complaint has been received to the complainant and the person or persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination (the accused).
Also upon receiving the complaint, the Compliance Officer shall determine whether interim measures should be taken pending the outcome of the investigation. If the Compliance Officer determines that more than 15 school days will be required to investigate the complaint, the Compliance Officer will notify the complainant and the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination of the reasons for the extended investigation and of the date by which the investigation is projected to be concluded, which will be no longer than an additional 15 school days. The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination, and any others who may have knowledge of the alleged discrimination or the circumstances giving rise to the complaint. The investigation may also include the inspection of any documents or information deemed relevant by the investigator. The complainant and the accused shall have the right to identify witnesses and other relevant information as well as rebut evidence presented by opposing parties. The School Division shall take necessary steps to protect the complainant and others pending the completion of the investigation.
Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a case by case determination based on all of the facts and circumstances revealed by a complete and thorough investigation.
The Compliance Officer shall issue a written report to the Superintendent upon completion of the investigation. If the complaint involves the Superintendent, then the report shall be sent to the School Board. The report shall include a determination of whether the allegations are substantiated, whether this policy was violated, and recommendations for corrective action, if any. The Compliance Officer’s written report, and all written notices sent pursuant to this policy shall be maintained and distributed in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The report shall be issued to the Superintendent, the complainant and the accused within 20 school days of receipt of the complaint, unless additional time was utilized for the investigation in which case the report shall be issued within 35 school days of receipt of the complaint.
3. Action by the Superintendent
Within 10 school days of receiving the Compliance Officer’s report, the Superintendent or Superintendent’s designee shall issue a decision regarding: (1) whether this policy was violated and, if so (2) what action, if any, will be taken. This decision must be provided in writing to the complainant and the accused. If the Superintendent determines that discrimination occurred, the School Division shall take prompt, appropriate action to address and remedy the harm and prevent any recurrence. Such action may include discipline up to and including recommending that a student be expelled or that an employee be discharged.
If the Superintendent or designee determines that no discrimination occurred, the complainant may appeal this determination to the School Board within 5 calendar days of receiving the decision. Notice of appeal must be filed with the Superintendent, who shall forward the Compliance Officer’s report and any documentation or information deemed relevant by the Compliance Officer during the course of the investigation to the School Board. The School Board shall make a decision within 30 calendar days of receiving the record. The School Board may require oral or written argument from the complainant, the person or persons accused of discrimination, the Superintendent, and any other individual it deems appropriate. An extension of the 30 calendar day time limit may occur if necessary as determined by the School Board Chair up to an additional 10 calendar days. The decision of the School Board shall be in writing and shall be provided to the complainant and the accused.
If the Superintendent or designee determines that discrimination occurred and discipline is imposed, the disciplined person (i.e. student or employee) may appeal the disciplinary sanction in accordance with existing School Board policies and regulations.
5. Compliance Officer
The School Board shall at all times designate a Compliance Officer responsible for identifying, preventing and remedying discrimination as well as receiving complaints under this Policy. The name and contact information for the Compliance Officer shall be posted on the Division’s website at all times. The Compliance Officer may be contacted at:
Wyllys D. VanDerwerker
Director of Special Education
P.O. Box 2497
Lynchburg, VA 24505
The Lynchburg City School Board’s Compliance Officer shall receive training and shall be knowledgeable about the requirements of Section 504 in order to impartially and equitably resolve complaints and ensure compliance with the law. In addition, the Compliance Officer shall:
- receive reports and complaints of discrimination;
- conduct or oversee the investigation of any alleged discrimination;
- assess the training needs of the School Division in connection with this policy; and
- arrange necessary training to achieve compliance with this policy.
B. Informal Procedure
If the complainant and the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination agree, the school principal, designee, or the Compliance Officer may arrange for them to resolve the complaint informally with the assistance of a counselor, teacher, or other school or School Division staff.
If the complainant and the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination agree to attempt to resolve the complaint informally, they shall each be informed that they have the right to abandon the informal procedure at any time in favor of the initiation of the above formal procedures.
If the complaint is resolved informally, the counselor, teacher, or other school or School Division staff shall notify the School Principal of the resolution. The School Principal shall notify the complainant, the persons allegedly responsible for the discrimination, and the Compliance Officer in writing that the complaint has been resolved informally.
Retaliation against students, school staff, or School Division staff who report discrimination or participate in the related proceedings is prohibited. The School Division shall take appropriate action against any student or employee who retaliates against another student or employee who reports alleged discrimination or participates in related proceedings.
D. False Charges
Students, school staff, or School Division staff who make false charges of discrimination shall be subject to disciplinary action.
Adopted: May 7, 2019
29 U.S.C. § 794
34 CFR Part 104.7(b)
GCPD Professional Staff Discipline