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The School Insists We Medicate My Daughter!

06/27/13
by Wrightslaw

My daughter has ADHD. She sometimes “acts out” but is not a behavior problem.  At the IEP meeting, the Assistant Principal demanded that we put her on meds. He gave us a deadline date. If we did not comply, he would call 911 for any “acting out.” Is this legal?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act expressly forbids school personnel from requiring a child to take meds. Period.

You need to read what IDEA 2004 says about medication.

Turn in your Special Ed Law book to page 84, Section (25) Prohibition on Mandatory Medication.

Your State Department of Education is responsible for ensuring that school districts do not require parents to obtain a prescription for medication as a condition for

  • attending school,
  • receiving an evaluation,
  • or receiving special education services.


Document with a Follow-Up Letter

You should follow up with a short letter that documents exactly what you were told.

Say that you felt intimidated by the Assistant Principal’s statements. Explain you are confused because you didn’t think school personnel could require your family to put this child on medication. Explain that you understood this is a decision that can only be made by a medical doctor.

Ask for clarification of the school’s policies on mandatory medication. Request a copy of the written policy.

Input from School Teachers

The law states that school cannot require a child to take medication before providing special ed services.

The law also says that teachers can tell parents that they suspect a problem.

Parents and teachers are usually the first to notice that a child has a problem that is affecting her ability to learn.

Teachers have experience with children with different disabilities.

Your child’s teacher can tell you that she thinks your child may have ADD/ADHD and may need medication – nothing wrong with this. It may be something you want to consider.

IDEA 2004

1412 (1) (a) (25) Prohibition on Mandatory Medication, page 84.

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Parent 07/11/13 at 5:06 pm

    Well, you can keep your child off meds like we did but when s/he gets too hard for them to handle and the assistant principal calls the fire department and has untrained hall monitors dangerously restrain your child and drug him or her out, tie her down and take him or her to the emergency room causing post traumatic stress for months afterwards, drugs will be a breath of fresh air….

  • 2 crunchymama 07/11/13 at 12:34 pm

    Actually, in my school system teachers are – or at least were when last I taught here – forbidden to even MENTION medication to parents. Teachers aren’t medical practitioners (barring other degrees, anyway) and there was fear of lawsuits arising from such recommendations. All we can do here is suggest evaluation for suspected learning disabilities and other issues.

    The day a school acts like this about one of my children is the day I pull them and homeschool them. It’s taken me quite a few years to get myself set up to do this economically, but I’m ready now.

  • 3 Debbie 06/28/13 at 12:10 pm

    Your child will also need a functional behavioral assessment and behavior intervention plan. If you are not familiar with these 2 documents, look them up in your Special Education Law, or All About IEPs books. These will prevent the assistant principal from arbitrarily suspending your child for behaviors related to his/her disability. It can take some time and patience to calm an asst. principal if they get ornery. But do not take intimidation tactics personally, and know your and your child’s rights. “Pleasant persistence” can win over even administrators.

  • 4 dad2luke 06/27/13 at 2:59 pm

    Isn’t threatening to call 911 if you do not medicate your child by a given date also retaliation?

    This would seem to be a situation where a recording of the IEP meeting would be useful, assuming that your state’s laws permit parents to record.