Section 504 and IEP in the Classroom for Children with ADHD
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Know Your Child's Rights: Section 504 and Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

Overview

If you have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who has difficulty in school, they may need extra support. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are two federal regulations to help special-needs students get the support they need.

Under IDEA, schools are required to develop an individualized education plan (IEP) for eligible students with disabilities. An IEP is a specific plan designed to help students get the help they need.

If your child has a condition that limits their ability to succeed in school, but they’re not eligible for an IEP, they may be able to get support through Section 504.

Each school has a coordinator to ensure compliance with these federal regulations. If your child receives an IDEA or Section 504 designation, school staff will need to develop and follow a specialized education plan for them.

How to obtain a Section 504 or IEP designation

You must follow a specific process to get a section 504 or IEP designation. Your child’s disability status and support needs will determine their eligibility.

To start, your child’s doctor will need to evaluate them. They’ll need to provide a verified diagnosis of ADHD. You’ll then need to work with your child’s school to determine their eligibility and support needs.

Qualifying for a specialized plan under Section 504

To qualify for a specialized plan under Section 504, your child must have a disability or impairment that “substantially” limits or reduces their ability to access classroom learning. Anyone can recommend that your child receives a Section 504 plan. However, your child’s school district will decide if they’re eligible. 

There’s no formal test to determine your child’s eligibility. Instead, evaluations are performed on a case-by-case basis. Some districts require a team of school personnel with your help to determine your child’s eligibility.

If your child is eligible, their school district will create a Section 504 plan for them. It will identify the accommodations that your child needs, such as:

  • frequent feedback from instructors
  • behavioral interventions
  • preferred seating assignments
  • extended time to take tests or complete assignments
  • option to take tests orally
  • permission to tape lectures
  • peer assistance with note taking
  • extra sets of textbooks for home use
  • computer-aided instruction
  • visual aids

Parents’ rights under Section 504

As a parent, you have the right under Section 504 to:

  • receive notification of your child’s Section 504 evaluation and determination
  • access relevant records related to your child’s Section 504 determination
  • request a hearing about the actions of your child’s school district regarding their evaluation and determination
  • file a complaint with your child’s school district or the Office of Civil Rights

Qualifying for an IEP under IDEA

If your child requires a more specialized or specific plan, they may require an IEP. They may also require an IEP if they need special education services.

As a parent, you have the right to request an IEP for your child. With your help, a team of school personnel will typically determine your child’s eligibility and support needs. Your child will need to undergo tests and an evaluation. This may include testing for:

  • intellectual ability
  • academic performance
  • vision impairments
  • hearing impairments
  • behavioral impairments
  • social impairments
  • self-help skills

Most children with ADHD who qualify for an IEP also have learning disabilities or health conditions as well. If your child qualifies for an IEP, their team will develop a plan to meet their educational needs.

Parents’ rights under IDEA

As a parent, you have the right under IDEA to:

  • receive notification of your child’s IEP determination, evaluation, and placement
  • access any relevant records related to your child’s determination or placement
  • call a meeting of your child’s IEP team
  • request a due process hearing
  • be represented at meetings
  • file a complaint with your child’s school district or the Office of Civil Rights
  • refuse to have your child evaluated or placed in a special education program

The takeaway

If your child has ADHD, they may need more support than their teachers, counselors, and school administrators are currently providing. If you think your child needs more help, consider applying for a Section 504 or IDEA designation. School districts are required to comply with these federal regulations to help students with verified disabilities and impairments get the help they need.

If your child receives a Section 504 or IDEA designation, school personnel will develop a specialized plan or IEP. This plan will identify the accommodations that your child needs. Getting extra support may help them succeed.

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