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School Says, “No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs”

by Pat Howey

My child has a learning disability. Her teachers want her to enroll in advanced classes. She is eligible based on her test scores and school performance.

The School will not let her enroll her because she has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). What are her legal rights?

Your child has an IEP because she is a child with a disability that adversely affects her education.

Because of her disability, she needs special education and related services.” 20 U.S.C. § 1401 (3). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Ed., p. 49.

Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).

You say your child qualifies for advanced classes and the school will not enroll her because she has an IEP. That sounds like discrimination.

Under Section 504, a person with a disability is someone who has, or whom others regard as having:

  • A physical or mental impairment;
  • That substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Major life activities include:

  • Caring for one’s self;
  • Walking;
  • Seeing;
  • Hearing;
  • Speaking;
  • Breathing;
  • Working;
  • Performing manual tasks; and,
  • Learning.

Public agencies that receive federal funds have to follow Section 504. Almost all public schools receive federal funds.

A school cannot exclude a qualified student with a disability from participating in any school program solely because of a disability.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Schools, parents, and students can ask for technical assistance from the OCR.

You may want to contact the OCR and ask them for help and information.

OCR enforces Section 504 by looking at how schools identify and evaluate students with disabilities. It also makes sure that schools tell students about their rights under Section 504.

When someone files a discrimination complaint under Section 504, the OCR investigates.

You can file a complaint with the OCR and claim that the school is banning your child from advanced classes based on her disability.

The OCR will look at whether the school treats your child differently than it treats nondisabled students who are in a similar situation.

If the OCR agrees with you, it can order the school to stop the discrimination.

If you want to read more about the Section 504 complaint process, click this link:

Read more about Section 504 by clicking this link:

Information about Section 504 regulations is available on OCR’s website, at

Read the full text of the Regulations for Section 504 by clicking this link:

More information and resources about Twice-exceptional students:

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wrightslaw 02/27/15 at 1:15 pm

    Tara: Read the information on the Twice-Exceptional 2-e page at Pay attention to the three OCR letters under “Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination” near the top of the page. This information may help answer some of the questions related to your daughter.

  • 2 tara 02/27/15 at 1:04 pm

    My daughter has a TBI and has an IEP. She was told she can not take AP classes and receive accomodations from her IEP in and AP Class. Is this true

  • 3 Sally 09/30/14 at 11:44 am

    My daughter has been in accelerated classes in Texas since the 2nd grade. She has had 504 accommodations for the 6 years because of her dysgraphia. She is now a freshman in high school and the school says she can’t take the advanced placement courses and get any 504 accommodations. The accommodations we are wanting are extended time and notes being provided. We are not wanting to modify the curriculum. We have been denied these accommodations and my child is failing a couple of classes because of this. We are in the process of filing all the grievances but if nothing happens with these grievances, what is my next step? I’d love to hire an attorney and hold this district accountable for my daughter and all the other students from here on out but not sure of the correct procedure. Thank you.

  • 4 Delores 05/16/14 at 6:09 pm

    My daughter has a learning disability she is in IEP. My question is will she still be able to graduate with her regular class even thro she had special classes

  • 5 Jane 03/27/14 at 12:30 pm

    I had the opposite problem: my daughter was in AP and Honors classes but struggling because of her ADHD, reading fluency, and emotional disturbance. She had had a 504 Plan in elementary school, which the middle school refused to implement. When I made repeated efforts over more than 2 years to get them to re-evaluate my daughter, the Special Education Coordinator refused, saying she would not have her evaluated until she dropped her AP and Honors classes. I finally hired a lawyer and filed a due process complaint. The story does not end well… This is just to say that there is discrimination against students who are bright but also have disabilities. This is especially devastating on these kids IMHO because they KNOW how they should be performing and strive to perform like their intellectual peers, but cannot without help.

  • 6 Linda 03/25/14 at 11:48 am

    Our problem is sort of the exact opposite. My son attends a gifted program with all gifted students. He’s twice exceptional. He has a 504 plan that barely gets implemented. We’re trying to get an IEP instead but the school seems to ignore his disabilities and they just say he needs to try harder. Today is our eligibility meeting.

  • 7 Andy 09/30/13 at 6:43 pm

    My son is Gifted under New Mexico standards and has an IEP. He has dysgraphia. The District says that there are IEP issues and Non-IEP Issues such as taking a language that meets his post secondary goals, I say all school issues are IEP issues and should be addressed in the IEP, such as dysgraphia, access to the general education program, graduation requirements. The District wants to disaggregate what is an IEP issue and what the school feels is not in order not to provide services. I have constantly been told that Gifted students are no different than general education students. I believe since my son has an IEP, all school related issues are IEP issues. Who is correct?

  • 8 Shari 05/16/13 at 11:25 pm

    We had a variation of this problem. My child wants to attend college (4 year) and wanted to take more challenging courses. She has high-functioning autism and LD. We were told we could only put her in Applied or Special Ed classes. She would have to give up Spec Ed Services if she took harder classes. She passed all of her state testing the first time she took them and has been begging for more challenging classes for 2 years. We filed a complaint with OCR and they investigated. The district proposed a resolution because they knew they were in big trouble, OCR accepted and my child ended up with nothing. My child was bullied by teachers and principals and almost had a nervous breakdown. The OCR and state DOE vigorously protected our school district. In hindsight, I would never file a complaint. The cost was too great for my child!

  • 9 Sharon L. 05/16/13 at 4:36 pm

    ASDmom, If the email truly says what you are saying at the end of your blog you have evidence to support an issue. Keep that email and contact an attorney that can help. I get angry when I hear that the school makes statements like that especially with laws like No Child BEhind, etc.

  • 10 ASDmom 05/16/13 at 10:09 am

    I have a twice exceptional child also who attends a special charter school for kids with higher functioning autism. They claim to level the kids based upon skill set but she is in top grade in Elementary school building so it’s not that easy for her to float to their Jr. High in another building due to schedules and social dynamics. The solution – she’s been bored most of the school year. They finally put advanced math in place (online) – it only took 1/2 a year for this to happen despite testing several grade levels ahead at the start of the year. We’ve expressed concern all year and became more direct in our advocacy at the start of 2013. We received an e-mail that said our child had learned all that was required for her grade this year so they didn’t have to do anything different and be grateful if they did – lovely :(

  • 11 Wendy 04/25/13 at 9:46 am

    I have a twice exceptional son. I was told twice that he could not receive support in an upper level class because the school did not have the resources. The school also gave me a hard time when I asked for extended time on certain tests. The school decided to offer him a crash course over the summer in technology to compensate for the lack of personal resources available in the upper level classes. The functional performance data was all subjective (with regard to organization, time management and other exeutive functional skills). I was told that he didn’t need support in the upper level classes because these were areas of strength. I’m not sure why the school felt that his ADHD just magically disappeared in upper level classes when he was receiving IEP support in his general Ed classes. When is their a case for 2E kids?