Top Myths About ADHD Laws Schools Don’t Want Parents to Know
Do you know what services a child with ADHD is entitled to? Who must evaluate the child? When the school can refuse to comply with a 504 Plan or IEP? If not, I’ve listed some common misconceptions about ADHD laws school district staff in many instances doesn’t understand or may not want you to know.
1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is not a real disorder and does not qualify as a disability.
ADHD is among the most thoroughly medically-researched and documented psychiatric disorders. ADHD qualifies as a disability under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as a Other Health Impairment (OHI) and as a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).
2. A student must be diagnosed with ADHD by a physician to be eligibility under IDEA or Section 504.
While best-practice evaluations of ADHD recognize the importance of comprehensive medical and psychological evaluations, the U.S. Department of Education issued a policy statement stating that if the IEP team includes persons the school believes are qualified to diagnose the condition, then a medical evaluation is not legally required.
3. Schools can require a parent to pay for a medical diagnosis of ADHD prior to conducting an evaluation for an IEP or 504 Plan.
If a school requires or recommends a medical, psychiatric or neurological evaluation as part of an evaluation to determine eligibility for an IEP or 504 Plan, the evaluation must be at no cost to the parent. The U.S. Department of Education has made clear that the school must pay for it.
4. Students with passing grades or adequate testing scores do not qualify for an IEP; they are only eligible for a 504 Plan.
Students with passing grades may qualify for a IEP and 504 Plan if their behavior is adversely affecting their performance at school, socially or academically.
5. Students with ADHD must take medication to qualify for special education services.
No student can be required to take medication as a condition for being eligible for special education services or accommodations. The decision to use or not use medication is made solely by the family and their doctor. If the student has ADHD and qualifies for an IEP or 504 Plan, the school must develop appropriate academic and behavioral supports to meet the student’s needs regardless of whether the student takes medication or not.
6. School staff can decide whether or not to implement an IEP or 504 Plan.
If a student has an IEP or 504 Plan, the school staff is required to implement it. Also, teachers or other school staff are prohibited from refusing to have a student with a disability in their class. I’m sure you’ve heard of situations where a teacher insists on removing a student from the class because the student is disrupting other student learning. While this may be true, it is not the teacher’s decision to remove the student; it must be discussed with the special education team to determine the best placement for the student, which may or may not be in another educational setting.
7. Students with 504 Plans for ADHD are not entitled to special education services. They are only entitled to accommodations, like preferential seating or additional time on tests.
Students with ADHD (and other disabilities) are entitled to accommodations and may also be entitled to specialized educational services (such as individual instruction or tutoring) and related services (such as counseling) under Section 504.
8. Positive behavior support plans are only available to students with ADHD if they are exhibiting disruptive or inappropriate behaviors.
IDEA and Section 504 allow positive behavior supports to be included in a plan to address both academic problems (e.g., timeliness, work completion, on-task behavior, etc.) and negative behaviors in the classroom.
9. Students with ADHD do not qualify for one-on-one aides, bus transportation, or other more intensive or expensive services in the classroom.
Students with ADHD are entitled to any services or supports necessary for them to benefit from their education under IDEA, and to have equal access to educational opportunities under Section 504. Any blanket policy limiting access based on a diagnosis or disability label is suspect.
If you have additional questions about learning or other disabilities, please contact us at Exceptional Learners to schedule a FREE consultation.