Under IDEA, your child is entitled to:
A "Free Appropriate Public Education" (FAPE) in the "Least Restrictive Environment" (LRE).
An initial eligibility evaluation and thereafter, a yearly reevaluation.
An independent evaluation at public expense if you disagree with the school district's evaluation.
A written individualized education program (IEP).
An education as close to home as possible and in the school he or she would attend if not disabled.
Support services, called "related services," such as a one-on-one instructional aide, speech-language pathology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, transportation, and school nurse services.
Assistive technology such as a communication system, computer, or spell-checker.
Placement in a private school at public expense if the public school cannot provide a "free appropriate public education."
A transition plan and services.
If you need help advocating for your child's educational rights contact Boston area special education lawyer Lillian E. Wong today.
Just because your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD doesn't mean that he or she is not automatically eligible for special education. This article explains the eligibility criteria under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the ADA.
Eligibility Under IDEA
In order to qualify under IDEA, your child must need special education. For example, your child may need special education because ADD/ADHD makes her unable to pay attention in class. Another indicator that your child might need special education supports and related services is if your child's ADD/ADHD causes him to act impulsively towards other students, straining social relations and resulting in school discipline.
Even though ADD/ADHD is not specific disabling conditions under IDEA, a child with ADD/ADHD is usually found eligible for special education under “Other Health Impairment” category. The Federal Regulations specifically include ADD and ADHD in their definition of Other Heath Impairment. Alternatively, a child with ADD/ADHD might also be found eligible for special education under the “emotional disturbance” (ED) or “specific learning disability” (SLD) classifications.
Eligibility Under Section 504
If a child who has ADD/ADHD is found ineligible under the IDEA, she might still be eligible for support under Section 504 of the ADA. In order to establish 504 eligibility, you must show that ADD/ADHD interferes with a "major life activity." Section 504 eligibility is often established by showing ADD/ADHD interferes with the major life activity of learning.
Find out more about special education eligibility in Massachusetts here.
To learn more about the difference between a IEP and a 504 plan click here.
To read a parent Q & A about ADD/ADHD and special education click here.
I receive a lot of calls from parents who believe their child qualifies for special education services, but the school disagrees.
What does the law say?
To qualify for special education your child must have a disability AND that disability must adversely affect the child's ability to make effective educational progress. Schools can deny special education where the lack of educational progress is due to limited English proficiency or lack of appropriate instruction.
What is effective educational progress?
The legal definition varies across the country.
Here in Massachusetts, effective educational progress is defined as:
Documented growth in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, including social/emotional development, within the general education program, with or without accommodations, according to chronological age and developmental expectations, the individual educational potential of the students, and the learning standards set forth in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the curriculum of the district. The general education program includes preschool and early childhood programs offered by the district, academic and non-academic offerings of the district, and vocational programs and activities. 603 CMR 28.02(17).
It is important to note that Massachusetts' definition of educational progress is not limited to traditional academics, but specifically includes social/emotional development. Unfortunately, some school officials do not understand this, and refuse special education services because the child is getting good grades.
If you feel your child was erroneously found ineligible for special education, contact a Massachusetts special education lawyer for advice.
It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
The Law Office of Lillian E. Wong, LLC
15 Morningside Drive
Topsfield, MA 01983
15 Morningside Drive
Topsfield, MA 01983