10 Things Parents of Children with ADHD Need to Know About Section 504

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • As a parent of a child with ADHD, you worry about his or her education. You want your child to do well but see some problems in school. A diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically make your child eligible for special services or accommodations in school, but, many children with ADHD do receive accommodations in the classroom to help them succeed. There are two laws that help: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Often, children with ADHD receive services under Section 504 - which aims to make sure all children, regardless of disability, have an equal chance to succeed in the classroom.

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    If your child receives services under Section 504, or if you are considering having your child evaluated to determine if he is eligible for services, you want to understand the law and how it can help. The following are 10 things you should know:


    ADHD is considered an eligible diagnosis under Section 504, although the diagnosis does not automatically mean your child will receive services. An evaluation must demonstrate that he has difficulty learning in school because of ADHD - he must have “mental or physical impairment that limits one or more major life activity.” Learning is considered a major life activity.


    There are specific procedures that must be followed for your child to receive services under Section 504. Each school should have a coordinator who makes sure the school is compliant under both Section 504 and IDEA. Your child must be diagnosed with ADHD by a medical doctor. You also must make a written request to the school for an evaluation to determine eligibility.


    There is no standardized test to determine eligibility under Section 504. Each child is evaluated individually and determinations are based on each student’s individual needs. Your school may have the evaluation completed by one person or by a team of personnel.


    If your child is determined eligible for services, you will be invited to attend a meeting with teachers and other school personnel to discuss what accommodations your child needs.


    If eligible, schools must provide “reasonable accommodations or modifications. This means schools can institute changes in rules, policies and procedures to make sure your child can use and enjoy school to the same extent as children without a disability. This can include extra time for tests or allowing a child to stand up or move around when needed during class.


    Any school who receives federal funds must abide by Section 504. This means if a school receives any federal funds (such as breakfast or lunch programs, Title 1 funding or special education funding, they must abide by Section 504.


    Services provided under Section 504 should be provided at no cost to the family. However, if there are services that all students are required to pay, then you must pay that cost as well. For example, if your school requires all students to pay a fee to participate in activities then you are required to pay that fee if your child is enrolled in those activities.


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    Children who are eligible for Section 504 are still required to follow school rules and may still be disciplined. The difference is, if your child has been suspended or expelled for more than 10 school days, the school must have a meeting to determine if the suspension/expulsion is a manifestation of the disability. If it is, your child cannot be further disciplined. If it is not, then he will be treated like any other student.


    You have the right to file a complaint if you believe the school is not following the Section 504. Your school should have a coordinator responsible for monitoring compliance that you can talk to about your concerns. You should also have been given a copy of procedures for filing a complaint at the beginning of the process. Once you file a complaint, a due process hearing should be scheduled.


    As a parent, you are entitled to certain rights under Section 504. You rights include:

    • Receiving notification of evaluation dates and results and the date and time of any meeting
    • Access to educational records relevant to determination and placement of your child
    • The ability to call a meeting for review
    • Representation at all meetings
    • The ability to appeal a decision or file a complaint


    The rules concerning eligibility for Section 504 are not as stringent as those for IDEA. Where IDEA is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education, Section 504 is managed by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights.




    “Federal Laws Pertaining to ADHD Diagnosed Children,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Frontline: PBS


    “Section 504: What Does it Mean?” Updated 2013, May, Staff Writer, KidsLegal.org


    “Your Rights Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights



Published On: August 13, 2013