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All citizens and others living in the United states are guaranteed a free public education. Children who are disabled or have a Learning Disability or ADHD are guaranteed access to an education that is appropriate for their needs.

When dealing with the legal system, please have patience. Here is a critical point. The system includes programs that are defined, but not yet funded. Therefore, you will often be asking your state and local school system for programs and accomodations which are not easy to deliver.


Section of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Individuals with disabilities Education Act(2004)

Civil Rights Act prohibiting public schools that receive federal funds from discriminatiing against children with disabilities.

Education Law that governs special education.

Ensure that kids with ADHD receive educational opportunities comparable to those received by kids without disabilities.


Ensure that kids with ADHD are allowed to participate with other children in nonacademic and extracurricular activities.

Coverage is broader in scope--can involve Special Education or accomodations. (Accomodation are special modifications, such as preferentail seating, untim ed tests,help with taking meds.) To be eligible for coverage, a child must require Special Education Services. Not necessarily separate from regular class. Can be specially designed instruction inside the regular classroom.

Kids under this section usually have less serious conditions.

More severe difficulties. Procedures and protections for kids and parents are more stringent.
Kids may fall under both laws--have to choose the one which helps you the most. Same
Eligibility established if ADHD substantially limits a major life activity.(Special Ed not required) To qualify for Special Ed, ADHD must result in child's heightened alertness to stimuli in the classroom affecting his or he educational performance--aceademic or functional.
Eligibility established if ADHD substantially limits ability to learn Eligibility established if effects of ADHD are long lasting(chronic) or have a very substantial impact (acute) and require Special Education Services.
Evaluation is required. Needs of a student with a disability should be met to the same extent as those of regular students Multidisciplinary evaluation procedure is required (at least one teacher and one professional familiar with ADHD) to determinine elgibility for Special Ed.
Very few regulations, but testing must be nondiscriminatory. No mention of outside evaluations. Evaluation must be comprehensive--including assessment tests, review of grades and behavior problems. Must consider outside evals. Goal: to determine any adverse effects on educational performance.
Parental permission not necessary; verbal notification required. Evaluation cannot take place without parents' or guardian's permission.
No mention of frequency of reassessment testing Reevaluation every 3 years, unless another time frame agreed on by school and parents.If parents request and eval and school decides not to perform the eval, parents must be ionformed in writing of their reight to request a hearing. Parents can seek an Independent Education Evaluation.

School District must develop a written plan describing placement and services.

No mention of parents' rights to participate in development of the plan.

Placement decisions based on documented information from a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the child.

School District must do the following:

  • Provide written assurance of nondiscrimination(must be included in student/parent handbook)
  • Designate an employee to coordinate compliance
  • Provide grievance procedures to resolve complaints
  • Provide parents/guardians with notice of their rights
  • Provide parents/guardians with opportunity to review relevant records
  • Provide parents/guardians with notification of their right to an impartial hearing regarding the identification, eval, or educational placement of their child.

A child is entitled to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is a comprehensive plan that requires the school to clearly state the following:

  • The child's current level of performance and how his or her disability affects progress and participation
  • The measurable annual goals and services provided to meet the child's needs and to enable progress in the general curriculum
  • The modifications required for the child to participate in district and statewide assessments.
  • The extent to which a child will not participate in regular classrooms and activities
  • The date of initiation, frequency, duration , and location of services, and modifications
  • How the child's progress will be measured and how the parents will be informed of the progress on a regular, periodic basis
  • Beginning at age 14, the transition services the child will need to prepare for work, further education, or independent living.

Because the IEP requires that students with disabilities have access to the same high standards and general education curriculum as their peers without disabilities, there is a presumption that children with disabilities will be educated in regular classes. However, when the decision is made to educate the child separately, an explanation of that decision will need to be stated as part o the child's IEP. Parents are members of the IEP team that makes decisions about the child, including selecting the child's placement. In addition , under IDEA, parents have the right to receive notice.


Section 504 and IDEA

Summary of Legal Requirements


The follow summary of the legal requirements was adapted from a digest provided by the Educational Resources Information Center, which was funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.

Section 504

  1. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds
  2. Requires that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) be provided to each qualified child who is disabled, but does not require special education services under IDEA. FAPE includes regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet an individual student's needs, and are based on adherence to the regulatory requirements for education setting, evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguards
  3. Requires a local district to make qn individualized determination of a child's educational needs for regular or special education, or related aids and services, if the child is found eligible
  4. Guarantees parents the right to contest the outcome of an evaluation if a local district determines that a child is not disabled under Section 504.
  5. Requires implementation of an individualized education plan tailored to a child's educational needs
  6. Requires that a child's education take place in a regular classroom unless it is deemed that education in this environment, along with additional aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily
  7. Requires that necessary adjustments be made in the regular classroom for children who qualify



  1. Requires that state and local districts make a free appropriate public education available to all eligible children with disabilities
  2. Requires that the rights and protection provided by IDEA are extended to children with ADHD and their parents
  3. Requires that an evaluation be performed, without undue delay, to determine if a child requires special education services
  4. Requires that children with ADHD be classified as eligible for services under the "other health-impaired"category in instances in which ADHD is a chronic or acute health problem that results in limited alertness and adversely affects a child's educational performance
  5. Does not allow local school districts to refuse to evaluate the psssible need for special education services for a child based solely on a prior medical diagnosis of ADHD
  6. Requires that a full and individual evaluation of a child's educational needs be conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that has as a member at least one teacher or other specialist(e.g. a psychologist) with experience and knowledge in the area of ADHD
  7. Requires that a due process hearing take place, at the request of the parents, if there is a disagreement between the local district and the parents over the request for evaluation, the evaluation itself, or the services or special education provided to the child. Parents also have the right to request mediation or file a complaint with the state education agency
  8. Gives children certain rights before they are disciplined for behavior that is caused by, or has a direct and substantial relationship to, their disability, or is caused by the school district's failure to implement the IEP.



Wright's Law www.wrightslaw.com


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