The School Insists We Medicate My Daughter!

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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 to page 84 in your Special Ed Law book, 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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23 Comments on "The School Insists We Medicate My Daughter!"

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What is the rule when, a student has a prescribed medication but is not given it by the parents/guardians. Also, the parents/guardians do not allow the school nurse to administer the medication. However, without the medication the student can not maintain engagement with the academic environment or peers? Or the student can not maintain engagement with the academic environment or peers without violence? Or the student can not maintain engagement with the academic environment or peers without medication because the anti-seizure, high blood pressure, or diabetes medication is not administer by the parent? This question is about students and families who already have the doctor’s interventions. Thank you.

The school can try to work with the family, & the doctor to find a way to help the child, but they cannot insist or force the parent to give medication. In some states, schools/educators can ask CPS to get involved.

I am so glad I found this article. My youngest is under a similar mandate, only he no longer receives SPED services as he tested out of it. The school continues to harass me about making sure my son takes his meds and goes to the point of pulling him from school and driving him to our house to get them for him, without my approval! Being as we live in a small NE town it’s allowed and I am powerless to stop it.

Even though your child is not served through special ed, he is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You can file a complaint with the Office or Civil Rights or the state education agency. Your state parent training & information center can assist you.

If anyone takes your child from school without you knowing or your permission, that is kidnapping and their is something you can do about it. What state are you in

Can the school call cps on you because you wish not to medicate your child?

I just wanted to mention every child with Adhd has problems sitting for long periods of time doing nothing but listening to the instructor/teacher. The type of setting would be working In teams and hands on activities which will keep her thinking. Also when reading best if she reads out loud so she hears what she is reading. When studying get a big marker board put it in her room this will help her study. Whatever she is studying needs to be big and bold she will retain the information this way. Also online have her do brain games perfect to help with memorizing.

Thank you so much for this information with tears I will definite try this .

I agree reading aloud is helpful. However, can be noisy. I have used a whisper-phone so kids can hear themselves read. They are not cheap to buy ready made for a whole classroom (as this is a good idea for ALL students), but can be made inexpensively–go to hardware store and buy pvc pipe–buy 2 curves/elbows/semicircles (whatever the name) and 1 straight piece. Put one elbow on each end of the staight piece and viola!

I also am having a problem my daughter is 6 and was on ADHD medication until recently I read up on the medication and side effects I decided to stop the meds. Her teacher since then refuses to let her In the classroom and she has been in the office sitting all day. She said she not allowing my child to come back to class till she is medicated is this legal.

If she is sitting in the office then she is NOT being educated in the least restrictive environment. This is basically a preemptive in-school suspension. You need to document the details of this situation by writing a letter that clearly states what is happening, i.e. “If I understood you correctly, Sally will not be permitted back into the classroom until she is back on medication, but her IEP states she will only be removed from the general education setting for OT and speech.”. If they state a problem with behavior, ask for an FBA and behavior plan, which requires preventative and positive interventions, for instance movement breaks and small rewards for meeting behavioral goals.

My husband and I are facing a similar problem, and don’t know what to do. Our son who is autistic has been having serious outbursts at school. Though he shows no sign of this at home. We had to pick him up today. The principal said until he sees a doctor, he will not be permitted to attend. We fully intend for him to see a therapist. That’s not the problem. The problem is getting him in before he misses too much school… Can they actually do this? No suspension has been filed that we’re aware of, and not even so much as a behavioral plan has been discussed.

That depends on what kind of behaviors constitute these “serious outbursts”, how often they occur and what triggers them? For many autistic children (and adults), simply being in a typical classroom with its 25 or so students is stressful ENOUGH to trigger extreme reactions, sometimes including violent or explosive behaviors — and no, none of these will be present at home environment. Bottom line, you are trying to safeguard the rights of your child and your child only, but school must balance his rights against the rights of other children (and employees too). Yes your child has the right to an education but if his “serious outbursts” include, for example, choking other children or throwing chairs at them, their rights for physical safety comes first.

Excellent response tts.
If following a functional behavior assessment and a written behavior plan is in place, it is decided that this child cannot be appropriately served in the current environment (given the current status) then this becomes the next step….determining where a child can be appropriately served. I would also question whether this particular child was properly evaluated by medical personnel and if so, what were the ‘experts’ recommendation? As parents, we may have strong feelings about medication, however, we should also attend to the opinions of professionals serving our children.
As a professional, I have actually been a part of teams where a 51-A was discussed because medical professionals had recommended, strongly, medication be explored and it was ignored.

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….

This is either a wildly imaginative piece of dark fiction, or a personal experience that should be discussed with a therapist.

I have seen this occur. It should be discussed on this forum as parents have experienced this. Many keep silent and are alone. I remember several incidents as a para where the only strategy was to call 911 for the child to get help. It was the only way to activate a wider net of resources for the parents and the child. I know this as I asked too many questions after incidents when I was a para. It takes your breath away to see a child like that. I have seen students rip apart classrooms and hurt other students and staff. I have seen incidents in classrooms with kids (even elementary aged) that do require restraining, 911 calls and such. It is not dark fiction–it is reality for many parents—that reality goes into a difficult metal health system at times for those parents.

So true! And yet another example of trying to coerce another parent into medicating their child!

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.

Financially not economically. You are financially prepared not economically prepared. I homeschool my daughter for 7 years and it cost zero dollars.

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.

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.

Federal laws say that the parents can record the IEP meeting. The state laws don’t apply. These parents should be recording these conversations and should file complaints with their state dept. of education. The things written in these comments are some of the most outrageous things I’ve read at this site.The school system has no say in whether a child is medicated or not. There is so much outrageous inappropriate behavior on the part of the school systems mentioned in these posts that it would be easy to file complaints and win.

To Melody – the poster after you suggested the school can work with the family doctor. This is not really true. If the parents give permission by signing a release which explicitly allows the school to talk to a specific doctor, then they can.