Your Parental Rights

What are your parental rights?

You as a parent, you know and understand your child best.  You are their best advocate.  You must 1)  educate yourselves (as a parental team) on what ADD is all about, 2)  understand the laws, and most importantly, 3)  on how ADD (or any other disability) impacts your child.   But before all of that, you must also understand what symptoms your child has the most challenges with and if any other difficulties might be holding your child back from being able to learn.

NOTE:  It is important to note that the law does not require the school to give a child services or support merely because they have been diagnosed with a condition.  Parents have to take steps to establish that the disability their child experiences ‘substantially impacts a major life activity’ — how is it impacting the child’s ability to learn?  That is why it’s so important to follow the steps above.

Because many children with ADD/ADHD experience significant (and inconsistent) academic difficulties, it is very important for parents to be aware of the special education services that public schools can provide.  Unfortunately, many children with ADD/ADHD may not receive the services they are entitled to, and parents are often unaware of the assistance their child could be receiving.

As a parent and teacher, I cannot encourage you enough to educate yourself about ADD.   I can help you prepare and present any concerns and challenges your child faces to school staff in a cooperative way that encourages positive outcomes.   You want to work WITH your child’s school to create a learning experience that is positive and successful!

My goal is to help parents and educators learn how to manage, teach, and discipline ADD children so they develop appropriate coping skills in order to thrive with ADD, while maximizing their full potential as unique individuals.  It takes commitment on everyone’s part, consistency between school and the home environment, a toolbox overflowing with creative ideas, and compassion to help retain self-esteem and confidence.  But the most important thing that hold these four things together, is humor.  That is one of the first things you put into your toolbox!

ADD can be very challenging because there is such an inconsistency in how these children perform, learn, behave, set goals, and socialize with others.  As a result, there is no clear-cut outline for schools or parents to follow in educating or parenting and ADD child.  The 4 C’s are vital to help these children to feel good about themselves because they are very unique, creative, smart, impulsive, energetic…..and inconsistent.   If you commit to these 4 C’s and encourage your child to use their gifts and strengths, they WILL SUCCEED!  I will show you how!

In this section you will learn about…

  • Joint Policy Memorandum ADD 
  • FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 
  • Filing Complaints

What is the Joint Policy Memorandum ADD?

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, September 16, 1991 offers this information:

“There is a growing awareness in the education community that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD) can result in significant learning problems for children with those conditions.

While estimates of the prevalence of ADD vary widely, we believe that three to five percent of school-aged children may have significant educational problems related to this disorder.  Because ADD has broad implications for education as a whole, the Department believes it should clarify State and local responsibility under Federal law for addressing the needs of children with ADD in the schools.  Ensuring that these students are able to reach their fullest potential is an inherent part of the National education goals and AMERICA 2000.  The National goals, and the strategy for achieving them, are based on the assumptions that:

1)  all children can learn and benefit from their education; and
2)  the educational community must work to improve the learning opportunities for all children.

This memorandum clarifies the circumstances under which children with ADD are eligible for special education services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B), as well as the Part B requirements for evaluation of such children’s unique educational needs.  This memorandum will also clarify the responsibility of State and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs) to provide special education and related services to eligible children with ADD under part B.  Finally, this memorandum clarifies the responsibilities of LEAs to provide regular or special education and related aids and services to those children with ADD who are not eligible under Part B, but who fall within the definition of “disabled person” under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Because of the overall educational responsibility to provide services for these children, it is important that general and special education coordinate their efforts.”
More information can be found at:  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/edlite-FAPE504.html 

What is FAPE?

All qualified persons with disabilities within the jurisdiction of a school district are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education.  The ED Section 504 regulation defines a person with a disability as “any person who:  1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, 2) has a record of such an impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such an impairment.”

For elementary and secondary education programs, a qualified person with a disability is a person who is:

  • of age during which it is mandatory under state law to provide such services to person with disabilities (for most states the ages are from birth to age twenty-one),
  • of age during which persons without disabilities are provided such services; or
  • entitled to receive a free appropriate public education under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

An appropriate education may comprise education in regular classes, education in regular classes with the use of related aids and services, or special education and related services in separate classrooms for all or portions of the school day. Special education may include specially designed instruction in classrooms, at home, or in private or public institutions, and may be accompanied by related services such as speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy, psychological counseling, and medical diagnostic services necessary to the child’s education.

An appropriate education will include the following:

  • education  services designed to meet the individual education needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of non disabled students are met,
  • the education of each student with a disability with non disabled students, to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the student with a disability,
  • evaluation and placement procedures established to guard against misclassification or inappropriate placement of students, and a periodic reevaluation of students who have been provided special education or related services, and
  • establishment of due process procedures that enable parents and guardians to:
    • receive required notices,
    • review their child’s records, and
    • challenge identification, evaluation and placement decisions.

Due process procedures must also provide for an impartial hearing with the opportunity for participation by parents and representation by counsel, and review procedures.

So, in general, ALL school-age children who are individuals with disabilities as defined by Section 504 and IDEA are entitled to FAPE.

What is Section 504 and how can my child get services under it?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Specifically, 34 C.F.R.§104 states:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States… shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Section 504 requires the provision of appropriate educational services; services that are designed to meet the individual needs of qualified students to the same extent that the needs of students without a disability are met. Essentially Section 504 was designed to “level the playing field,” to ensure full participation by individuals with disabilities.

To qualify under Section 504 a student must:

  • Be determined to have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including learning and behavior.
  • Have a record of having such an impairment OR
  • Be regarded as having such impairment.

Section 504 ensures that a qualified child with a disability has equal access to education. The child may receive appropriate accommodations and modifications tailored to the child’s individual needs.  As learning is considered a major life activity, children diagnosed with ADD are entitled to the protections of Section 504 if the disability is substantially limiting their ability to learn.  Because the ADD child’s IQ is at or above average and their academic performance has not dropped substantially, they are best served through a Section 504 Plan.

An appropriate accommodation for a student with a disability under Section 504 could entail:

  • education in regular classrooms with simple modifications,
  • education in regular classrooms with supplementary services, modifications and/or accommodations,
  • special education and related services OR
  • any combination of the above.

So how does a parent get their child covered under Section 504?  In order to receive services under Section 504, a child must first be determined to have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life functions, including education, learning, and behavior. Only the school can determine if your child qualifies for accommodations. Parents seeking to have their child receive services under Section 504 should take the following steps:

  1. Submit a written request to the school asking for an evaluation to determine if there is a significant impact on your child’s learning or behavior.  (Always retain a signed and dated copies of all correspondence for your records.)
  2. Request a copy of your School District’s Policies and Procedures on Section 504. This document may be referred to by various names, including Procedural Safeguards, Parental Rights or something similar. This document will inform you of your and the school’s rights and responsibilities in helping your child receive the accommodations she or he needs.  Don’t hesitate to ask for any questions or clarifications that you may need.
  3. Seek help from an outside advocate or ADD Coach who understands how to work with the parents and Child Study Team in order to provide appropriate and simple accommodations for your child.

Examples of simple classroom accommodations under Section 504 may include:

  • sitting close to the teacher
  • sitting in front row of class
  • verbal testing instead of written
  • modifying homework assignments
  • allowing extra a time on tests
  • providing specific assistance with planning and organizational skills
  • using behavioral management techniques in the classroom.

What is IDEA?                                                                                         

Children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special services under Part B of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This would apply when your child’s ADD/ADHD is determined to be a “chronic or acute health problem which adversely affects educational performance.” When this condition is true – as it will be for many children with ADD/ADHD – the child can be classified as “Other Health Impaired” (OHI), and the school must develop an Individual Education Program (IEP) that is designed to meet your child’s unique educational needs.

An IEP is a plan to educate your child based on your child’s individual needs. This IEP is a legally binding document that the school must adhere to for them to continue to receive funding.  Depending upon the state in which you live, children ages 3-21 qualify for services under IDEA.  Various states break the age structure into to groups 0-3, 3-18, and then 18-21.

Ideally, the IEP should take into account your child’s unique abilities and disabilities, and identify specific educational goals for your child, procedures for attaining those goals, and methods to evaluate whether the goals are being met. The IEP is developed after your child has been evaluated and found to require special educational services. In the best circumstances, the plan is developed in a collaborative meeting involving parents, teachers, and other school personnel (e.g. guidance counselor, school psychologist, etc.) to provide measurable goals for your child.  As a parent, you are also free to bring along anyone (e.g. child psychologist, child care provider) that they feel would be helpful to have at the meeting.  You may also decide to include your child in the meeting.

Parents who question whether their child is in need services under IDEA should take the following steps:

  1. Submit a written request to the school asking for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to determine if your child should receive any services under IDEA..  (Always retain signed and dated copies of all correspondence for your records.)  
  2. Request a copy of your School District’s Policies and Procedures on IDEA and ask for any explanations or clarifications that you may need.
  3. Understand that the school has 30 working days to arrange and evaluate your child per your request or they will be considered in violation of the IDEA laws.  They may suggest evaluation to take place in the spring when they do all their evaluations, but I encourage you to push to have it done as quickly as possible.
  4. Before the end of that period of time, call the school to set up a meeting time and place to discuss their findings and suggestions.
  5. After you understand how the school plans to assist your child through the steps outlined in the suggested IEP, you have the right to question or refuse any portions of it.
  6. If for some reason you and school cannot come to a formal understanding or agreement, you do have the right to request a due process hearing.  Before you go further with this, seek guidance from an ADD coach or advocate.  Together we can work with the school to provide an appropriate educational plan that will help your child to succeed in school.
  7. Remember, the law is very clear that the schools are not supposed to supply a child with the services they have.  They are supposed to supply the child with services the child needs to succeed academically.  If the school does not offer certain services, they have the legal responsibility to either bring it in from outside through a contractor, or pay for placement in a private school setting.
  8. As a parent, it is still your responsibility to check to see if the IEP accommodations are working and if any progress is being made.  Don’t leave it all up to your child’s teachers!  Staying in close communication with teachers will keep this flowing smoothly so you can also implement similar strategies at home.

How do I file a complaint about my school or school district?

Local school districts are responsible for implementing the provisions of Section 504. However, ultimate responsibility for enforcing these provisions rests with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education.

If you believe that a school or school district has violated this law and efforts at the local level to resolve your complaint have not been successful, you may file a formal complaint with OCR by contacting the nearest state/regional office. You may also call the OCR Hotline at 1-800-421-3481. A complaint may also be filed using the OCR Online Complaint Form

Every state offers legal assistance to parents under due process.  If you must go through a due process hearing, the state will provide you with a lawyer and cover all costs for the hearing.

Here are some helpful links for you to learn more about how to work with your child’s school so your child will grow to never stop asking questions:

Wrights Law
Video on Section 504
Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
Special Needs and Special Education Advocacy Services
Section 504 at the Post Secondary Level
Explanation of the laws pertaining to Post Secondary Education
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

How can we support you and your child?  If you would like more information or would like to schedule a free individualized consultation, please contact us today.

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