Truancy: TRUANCY and ADHD

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Amy:  Hello. My child is regularly tardy to school (by minutes). He is diagnosed with ADHD and has a difficult time getting out the door in the morning and getting to his classroom once he enters the school. He is on an IEP. Is there a way to have this written in to his IEP that his tardiness not be held against him? He does not miss days of school and efforts are made to make this better. Thank you.

  1. I myself have a daughter that is on an IEP. However she is 15 now and has always struggled with tardiness. Both of my ADHD daughters have! High school. Was a little different with my oldest and being on a 504 she tended to have a little more of self guidance and pushed herself.. whoever my youngest is a make of the same cloth like myself and they moved the eighth graders to the high school. So she is no longer being treated as a middle schooler when in fact she’s still a middle school or mentally. Never mind the fact that ADHD literally puts you about three to four years behind mentally! I know I am ADHD up the bum and I am 42 now lol does not get easier. It’s like the blind leading the blind lol except I’m more aware of what my rights are and how to advocate for my child! However, the tardiness is somewhat of an issue because she might be a minute or too late but every four tardies they give her attention.

    So basically every week she’s going to have a detention no matter what. So I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out what I should do if I should write something like this into her IEP. So that way we can stop getting these disciplinary actions that are going to affect her in the future because of the paper trail. As much as ADHD has been acknowledged. I feel like there is a lot of work to be done still! People look at it like a made-up issue when in fact it is a full-blown chemical imbalance of emotional dysregulation along with every other feeling in the world that comes with other disorders! It’s basically bipolar without being bipolar lol. It’s hard and when push comes to shove I turn into a nightmare and I don’t want to get to that point. So I’m trying to find a level ground and where I can write something like this into her. IAP! Anybody have any information or advice? I’m in Massachusetts

    • I suggest contacting your state federally funded parent training and information project. The will be familiar with your state rules.

    • Since each state has its own processes, it is hard to determine how your SPED process works. I am a SPED teacher in NC and here there are different ways of doing things from one county to the next, even if it is in the same state. One thing to keep in mind is the reasonableness of a time factor. Let’s say you and the school/district decide to write in the IEP an accommodation of the student being allowed to arrive 15 minutes late to school or even between classes.

      This works for a while before it’s now requiring at least 20 minutes(after the tardy bell) to get your child to school. You ask for the tardy allowance time to be increased…several more times. At some point it becomes a major issue because (1) Your child is missing valuable teaching and learning and (2) There are no goals or interventions put into place to help mitigate the tardies.

  2. You should check your state laws, but in California pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or to compulsory continuation education who is absent from school without a valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, shall be classified as a truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school district.

    If he is only a couple of minutes, he is not considered truant in California.

  3. If the child has an IEP and this is a “unique need,” then YES, have it written into his IEP and then they must legally abide by this. a doctor’s letter would be helpful. Our child had a sleep disorder and for years was not sleeping well, so he could be late to school. In addition, he was very sound sensitive,and at the end of the day, they were using a megaphone that was extremely painful and very upsetting to him, so we had it written in that I pick him up BEFORE they started shouting through that mega phone. i was also able to get them to STOP using whistles to control noise level int eh cafeteria. Whistles and megaphone usage are often very painful to kids with autism. if a child has a “unique need” then it is appropriate for the school to make accommodations to fulfill this need.

    • My son is 8 and is on an IEP. He has sleeping problems, or sleep apnea, and is hyperactive. I’ve spoken with the principal and superintendent about these problems and they ignored me. They ignored my request for a late start and didn’t follow the guidelines of the truancy law before taking me to court. I’ve had the principal call CPS on me, access me of being on drugs and have been in court every other week, with 450 in fines because they will not take my son’s disorders in consideration. I also have medical conditions that the school and the courts refuse to ignore. What an I supposed to do? I’m about to hire a lawyer to solve this matter.

  4. We currently have a set of brothers with similar issues and found that having them earn a reinforcer (e.g. ipad time) when they arrive on-time has had amazing results.

    The IEP can address a shorter school day, but I agree with an earlier statement to try setting the alarm back 15 minutes. There are other things he can do like showering in the evening, and packing his lunch and setting out his clothes the night before. If the school has a breakfast program, he might be able to have breakfast at school.

  5. Amy –

    Yes, the IEP can include “alternative” rules for your son regarding lateness. More often, however, I see this sort of thing in a behavior plan. Then the behavior plan, itself, is referenced in the IEP.

    The thinking behind this is that the behavior plan can be more responsive to the child’s needs. It can be revisited and revised as necessary, without having to call a full Team meeting.

    The plan can include the strategies the school is using to help alleviate the issue (and hopefully they are doing something, and this is not just your problem – if not, address this with the Team). It can also include any alternative discipline the school might use with him.

  6. Try speaking to the IEP committee about this and suggesting that he have a leeway of 10 minutes for the next x number of days, then reduced to 5 minutes. Try setting the alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual. The combination of the two should help your child to respect time more.

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