Disability Law Colorado (DLC) along with the National Disability Rights network (NDRN) is pleased to see the release of a guidance package concerning the rights of students with ADHD under Section 504 on July 26, 2016 from the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. We support the Department’s effort to put all of these resources in one place, in a manner which will assist advocates and families in accessing the information and becoming knowledgeable about their rights.
This guidance does a number of critical things that will help ensure that students with ADHD receive the accommodations and supports they need under Section 504 so they can achieve successful educational outcomes. For example DLC and other P&As have seen situations where a child is achieving a high level of academic success and as a result districts refuse to consider them to be eligible for needed accommodations and supports under Section 504. This guidance makes clear that even in those situations, a child may still qualify for services under Section 504.
Additionally, the guidance makes clear that the school district may not delay eligibility evaluations by providing alternative support services before permitting an evaluation to take place. In other words, if the district suspects the student may have a disability it cannot delay the evaluation while it tries other interventions. Also, when considering eligibility, the district may not consider the ameliorating effects of medication. If the district believes a medical evaluation is needed it must provide it without cost to the family. Finally, the guidance recognizes the link between increased incidents giving rise to discipline and the need to consider whether the student may have a disability for which the district will need to conduct evaluations to determine eligibility under Section 504.
Discipline issues have long been a concern of DLC, NDRN, and the Protection and Advocacy Network and we hope the release of this guidance will be the first of many to address this topic.