On ADA anniversary, Ed Dept guidance reiterates rights of students with ADHD

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Education has released new guidance clarifying the responsibilities of school districts when dealing with students who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
  • The guidance, released on the 26th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, focuses on ADHD, in part, because of the frequency of complaints alleging discrimination against these students – 10% of the 16,000 complaints on the basis of disability in the last five years.
  • The guidance reminds schools they must evaluate students suspected of needing special education services, including if they appear unfocused or distractible in class. It also says schools are obligated to provide services based on the individual needs of students, not generalized traits of their disability, and parents have a right to appeal school decisions.

Dive Insight:

In 2015, the Office of Civil Rights received a record-high 10,392 complaints, representing, in part, a rise in cases relating to the restraint or seclusion of students with disabilities and the accessibility of curriculum through technology for students with disabilities, according to the office's annual report.

Prior to this latest ADHD guidance, the OCR released a "Dear Colleague" letter relating to schools' obligations surrounding effective communication for students with disabilities. This was in November of 2014 and focused on students with hearing, speech, or vision impairments. Because all students must have equal access to communication from schools, students with disabilities who may not be able to access traditional means of communication need alternatives. The same is true for students – and their parents – who do not speak English

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Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation