The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
May 24, 1999

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Issue - 32

ISSN: 1538-3202

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The Special Ed Advocate is our free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -


As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this newsletter.

1. Question of the Week: Are Children With ADD/ADHD Eligible for Special Education Services? Section 504 Protections?

Connie asks:

I am wondering if students with ADHD are covered under Section 504? My son was diagnosed and has received treatment for ADHD since age 4. He is now 11.

My son is having behavior problems. I have asked for help from the school. I have been told that he is not covered under Section 504. Is this true?


ADHD children may be eligible for special education and related services under IDEA (the special education law). As a child with a disability, the ADD/ADHD child is also entitled to protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

There are important differences between these two laws. If a child is eligible for special education services under IDEA, the child automatically receives Section 504 protections. Section 504 bars discrimination against the child. Section 504 does not provide for a special education from which the child benefits.

For more about educational services and children with ADD/ADHD, read the Joint Memorandum from the U. S. Department of Education (see #3 below).

2. Help!! My ADD/ADHD Child was Suspended Again!

Maryland Mom writes:

My child has severe ADHD. Although he takes Ritalin, he often acts out impulsively or aggressively. At IEP meetings, the teachers bring this up as a concern. I have suggested ways to work with my son, but my suggestions have been ignored. Instead, when he acts up, they call me to come and get him from school.

My son has been suspended several times. He was suspended again for 10 days after an incident on the playground. The other child was not suspended. My son's self-esteem is at an all time low. He is 7 years old.

Great educational system we have. As I talk to other parents of ADHD kids, I have learned that we are in the same boat, fighting with the local school system.

I am looking for resources, information - anything that may help my son and others like him.

With this most recent incident I have reached critical mass with the school system. I am a single mother and my son's only advocate. I need information so I can help my son get an education and become a productive human being.


Dear Maryland Mom:

You cannot win this war alone. First, go to the Wrightslaw site and read.

You will need to have a private sector expert evaluate your son and make recommendations about what your child needs educationally. Ask other parents about evaluators in your area or call your local ChADD chapter for recommendations.

As a Mom, the school will give you no credit for understanding how to deal with your son's problems. You may even be blamed for his problems. Why?

Click here for the answer to this question

You need to learn how to present your son's case so that the decision-makers in your school system will want to right the wrong. For starters, read this article.

Get the book How To Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence. Read chapters 8 and 9.

You should be able to get HOW TO ARGUE AND WIN from your local bookstore or public library.

You can also order HOW TO ARGUE AND WIN from our bookstore.


Browse the Wrightslaw site.

Let us know how things go. Good luck!

3. Joint OSEP Memorandum: Educating ADD/ADHD Children

The laws about educating children with disabilities are confusing to most parents and educators. We receive many messages from parents who have been told that their ADD/ADHD child is not entitled to special education services.

In 1991, the U. S. Department of Education issued a Joint Memorandum about special education services to children with ADD/ADHD.

This memorandum advised school districts that children with ADD/ADHD are eligible for special education services under "other health impairment," "specific learning disability," or "serious emotional disturbance."

The Memorandum also clarifies that children with ADD/ADHD who do NOT need special education or related services are covered by Section 504 if the child's symptoms "substantially limit a major life activity, such as learning."

Under Section 504, school districts must provide regular education or special education programs, including modifications and supplementary aids and services, to children with ADD/ADHD. These services must be based on the child's individual needs.

To get a copy of the OSEP Memorandum about educational services for children with ADD/ADHD go to

Copy the Memorandum to your computer's hard drive. Print. As you read the Memorandum, use a highlighter to note portions that may apply to your situation.

WARNING: Don't assume that the school people gave you bad advice intentionally. Many educators and school employees are confused and write to ask us what the laws say about educating children with disabilities.


WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW includes the full text of the special education laws and regulations.

4. Advocacy Tip" How to Use a "Parent IEP Attachment"

Judy writes:

I continue to be one big fan of your site. As a volunteer advocate, your site is the first one I refer parents to. I was delighted to see permission granted to reprint your articles so I may pass them on to parents who do not have access to the internet.

I'd like to tell you about a recent development. I have had great difficulty getting districts to take parent attachments seriously. Recently, I was told that the district could not attach such a document to the IEP.

I turned to Prior Notice in the Procedural Safeguards section of the statute. Prior Notice specifies that suggestions put on the table must be accepted or rejected, and the IEP team must list the reasons for accepting or rejecting the proposal. I saw this done one time by a district in another community and it was very successful.

I devised a very simple form with four columns: a column for Proposal, a column for Accepted, a column for Rejected, and a column for "Reason Accepted or Rejected."

If a request is "Accepted," a notation may be added stating who is in charge of initiating the proposal and a starting date.

The parent sees to it that the IEP team formulates the reason for accepting or rejecting each proposal.

After doing this in a couple of meetings, the district actually suggested using my form to keep track of proposals and their disposition. I was so proud of them! They are in compliance. And parents have definitive yes or no answers, and reasons are given for these decisions.

Using this form (even an unofficial form designed by a parent) has eliminated worries about inactivity and worries that someone will drop the ball, sidestep a request, or forget. The IEP team members know what issues have been resolved and what issues have not been decided. Issues that must be tabled for further investigation have a name attached and a date for an answer.

I don't think parents realize what a powerful tool this can be for them. If parents can use this system to make the IEP process work for their child, the IEP process may become a little more "parent friendly." Again, thanks for being such a powerful resource for parents and professionals alike.

Great idea Judy!

Print this Advocacy Tip

5. Editor's Choice: Taming The Tiger; ADD: A Different Perception


Here is what reviewers are saying about "Teaching the Tiger: A Handbook for Individuals Involved in the Education of Students With Attention Deficit Disorders, Tourette Syndrome or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:"

"The best practical reference book for educators who work with students with Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."

"The authors do an excellent job of explaining how these disorders affect emotions, thought processes, and overt behavior . . . educational techniques are practical, everyday useful interventions."

"It's definitely not just for the special educator. Counselors, social workers, school psychologists, classroom teachers, and paraprofessionals will find it a useful resource."

For more information about Teaching the Tiger, go to our bookstore.


In "ADD: A Different Perception (revised)," Thom Hartmann tells about successful, creative, and dynamic individuals throughout history who were undoubtedly affected by ADD.

"Innovative and fresh . . . Rather than portraying the syndrome as a crippling disease, Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style." (Edward Hallowell, MD and John Ratey, MD, authors of Driven to Distraction)


6. News Briefs

* From Florida: Special Ed Kids Test Scores Omitted From Final State Results*

"Florida's practice of excluding the test scores of special education students when computing statewide averages omits about 10 percent of all test takers, and some say that gives a distorted picture of child achievement levels."

"Special education students take the tests, but only results from average and gifted schoolchildren are released in news conferences and press releases."

"Florida launched a new accountability program this year that relies on standardized test scores to assess a school's grade. Over time, a school that gets an F could lose students -- and thus, state money -- to a government-funded voucher program."

To read the complete article, go to the Miami Herald site.


* More News From Florida: Broward Mainstreams Special Ed Kids*

"Enrollment at Broward's three schools for disabled children will plunge about 22 percent this fall, the result of a deal with federal civil rights officials to assign more special-education students to regular schools."

"The decision to move an unprecedented number of students from the special centers to regular schools is setting off panic alarms among some parents and School Board members, who say the district is going overboard. They fear the quality of the centers will decline and that the special-education kids thrust into regular schools will receive short shrift."

"The U.S. Office of Civil Rights told the school district last year that it was violating a law that requires educators to place disabled students in mainstream settings whenever possible."

"Under the threat of losing federal dollars, Broward school officials this spring reevaluated the children at the special centers to see who might succeed in a less isolated environment. "

To read this article, go to the Miami Herald site


* From Kentucky: Legislators Learn About the Importance of Early Childhood Education

"Children who are spoken to a lot have a vocabulary of 800 words by the time they're 2. Those who are rarely spoken to have about a 100-word vocabulary."

"The number of children in special education can be reduced by up to 75 percent if they get some education before age 3."

"Those were a few of the statistics thrown at legislators yesterday by Craig Ramey, a national expert in early childhood education."

"Ramey, director of the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama, was brought in, along with Frank Newman, president of the Education Commission of the States in Denver, to educate members of the legislature's Health and Welfare and Education committees on the benefits of early childhood education programs.?

To read this article, "Panels hear lesson in early education" by Monica Richardson of the Herald-Leader go to the Wrightslaw site.


*From Minnesota: Unsafe Conditions in Minneapolis Special Ed Programs*

"State examiners found "serious compliance problems" last year among the special education programs in Minneapolis schools -- faults that are forcing the district to repay millions in special education money and fix troubling, unsafe physical conditions in some of its school buildings."

"The district is quietly repaying more than $7 million in state and federal money it received for special needs students, but should not have had, between 1995 and 1998. The programs suffered from a lack of oversight that spawned a wide range of problems."

To read "District forced to return $7 million in aid funds" by Rick Links and Paul Tosto, go to the Pioneer Planet site

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