In breaking news, the US Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights have released their a letter from Asst Secretary Catherine Lhamon and its Students with ADHD and Section 504 Resource Guide HERE. For your convenience, we also include them below  – including a highlighted version which spotlights key passages for parents and teachers.

This report has been almost a decade in the making and is trying to address the need of the over 16,000 parents who reported problems for their children with ADHD in the public school system.

Because of the high co-occurrence of ADHD / ADD with dyslexia, we are sharing this information here at Dyslexic Advantage.

The guideline reports Common Problems such as:

  • students with ADHD not being adequately assessed for special education or learning disabilities
  • students not receiving appropriate services
  • students with ADHD can be eligible for services under specific learning disability or emotional disturbance, and not just “other health impairment”
  • if a student does not qualify for IEP, schools should assess whether they would qualify for a 504
  • schools should not consider any ameliorative (improving) effects of medication or other measure when determining whether a student has a substantially limited life activity (and therefore could qualify for special education or other supports)
  • medical assessments could be necessary for the assessment of ADHD, but there is nothing in Section 504 that requires such assessments
  • School districts should not group a few aids and services and apply them in a “blanket fashion” to any student with ADHD
  • schools should recognize that students may need to be reassessed periodically

Department of Education Guidelines ADHDAlso, especially relevant for Gifted LD or Twice Exceptional students:

“Someone with ADHD may achieve a high level of academic success but may nevertheless be substantially limited in a major life activity due to his or her impairment because of the additional time or effort he or she must spend to read, write, or learn compared to others. In OCR’s investigative experience, school districts sometimes rely on a student’s average, or better-than-average, grade point average (GPA) and make inappropriate decisions.

For example, a school district might erroneously assume that a student with an above-average GPA does not have a disability, or has no unaddressed needs related to the disability, and therefore fail to conduct a Section 504 evaluation of that student, even if that student is suspected of having or has been diagnosed with ADHD and receives family provided academic supports outside of school.

In passing the Amendments Act, some Members of Congress emphasized that “it is critical to reject the assumption that an individual who has performed well academically cannot be substantially limited in activities such as learning, reading, writing, thinking, or speaking.”

Also, “A gifted student may still need specific and explicit instruction on how to reliably record homework assignments, organize information into class notes, start a multi-stage project, write more efficiently, or respond to challenges to his or her attention or concentration in day-to-day activities.”

School Districts Should Not Delay Evaluations and
Teachers and Staff Should be Trained to Identify Academic and Behavioral Challenges

“In OCR’s experience, school districts run afoul of the Section 504 obligation to evaluation for disability and need for special education or related services when they: #1. rigidly insist on first implementing interventions before conducting an evaluation or that each tier of a multi-tiered model of intervention must be implemented first regardless of whether or not a disability is suspected and there are needs based on the disability, or #2. categorically require that data from an intervention strategy must be collected and incorporated as a necessary element of an evaluation.

It is important that school districts appropriately train their teachers and staff to identify academic and behavioral challenges that may be due to a disability so a student is referred for an evaluation under Section 504, if needed.”

In summary, “OCR cannot overemphasize the importance of making sure that school district personnel understand their obligations to implement appropriate plans for students with disabilities once the plans have been developed.”

Right to Appeal or Due Process

Finally, “if a parent request an evaluation for disability for his or her child but is informed that the school district disagrees that the student should be evaluated, because the school district does not believe that the student has ADHD or needs special education or related services because of ADHD, that is in fact a denial, and the school district must inform the parent about these due process procedures…right to appeal that district’s refusal” by a person that “cannot be an employee of the school district.”

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Download Highlighted Guidelines HERE.

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Download 2016 US DOE OCR Guidelines on ADHD HERE.


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