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Student struggling but good grades so school says no need


Kimber
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Student has ADHD diagnosis and is 8 years old. Lives in IL. ONE Teacher is sending home messages everyday about all the things the student is doing wrong. School won’t consider a 504 or IEP because “his grades are too good”. Student is constantly trying to teach other students, corrects other students about rule following, having meltdowns when the teacher won’t listen to him during lecture. Other teachers do not have concerns and state that he “makes them think about things different ways”. The one teacher takes away his recess almost daily even though he is ADHD. He has stated he can’t do anything right for the one teacher and he wants to die! Child is now on medication and receiving counseling all because of his experience with this teacher. Child is very smart, has some social skill issues, and is very concrete in thinking. 
what leg do we have to stand on to get this child a 504 or IEP even though he has all A’s in school?

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Grades are subjective, not objective.

Have you requested special education evaluations, in writing?

 

https://adayinourshoes.com/child-does-not-qualify-for-an-iep/

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I had a similar experience when my son was that age. It took us 6 years to get an IEP, which finally happened at the end of his 6th grade year. My son was diagnosed with ADHD in the 1st grade, but his meltdowns weren’t typical for his age over the years . He also struggled socially and he never really had any friends at school. We recorded a meltdown and showed his pediatrician who then referred him for an evaluation of Autism. He received an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis and it still took lots of emails, time and effort before getting an IEP in place.  Don’t give up!

You know your child best. If there are behavior concerns or if the child is having meltdowns in class send an e-mail to your District’s Office of Exceptional Children, your school’s principal, assistant principal, and homeroom teacher, Cc’ing yourself. State that you are requesting a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) for your child based on the issues that are going on in school and that you are requesting an IEP. Make sure to include when your child was diagnosed with ADHD and when you informed the school. The district is required to complete an FBA within a specific timeframe. If the school and District doesn’t respond to your email or requests for an FBA, call your State’s Department of Education and explain your situation and ask for their email address to then forward your initial email to the same individuals including your State’s Department of Education following up on your request.

Also request verification from your school that they identified your child as a child with a disability (ADHD) in their system.

I hope this response helps you. Good luck and don’t give up!

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I would just add that once you get a 504 (or IEP) in place (and thus the school recognizes that your child has a disability), the school CANNOT take away recess from your child as this would be discrimination.  But I would also try to get this stopped now by emailing the principal stating that a teacher is taking away his recess due to his disability, and that you would like this to stop immediately.  Attach the ADHD diagnosis.

And yes, grades don't mean squat.  If a teacher is sending home notes about behavior and withholding recess because of it, there is a suspected area of disability and the school needs to evaluate.  If they refuse after your request, contact the state department of education.

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I feel he needs a gen ed level FBA so the school can come up with a plan where he has access to recess since the teacher keeps taking recess away due to his behaviors in class.  A 504 makes sense.  It's supposed to give a student to access to things that they cannot access due to their disability so access to recess would be my spin on how to approach this.

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They can't just tell you no because of grades. Educate yourself of the laws. Very first thing, submit a request in writing for your child be comprehensively evaluated. I see someone posted the website link above. I highly doubt they'll refuse as they then have to justify their refusal through a process. Also educate yourself in what parent sports your state has. 

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  • 1 month later...

If you can't get them to say the ADHD is sufficient to generate a 504 plan or IEP, you may want to try to get a diagnosis from the psychiatrist and/or therapist for the other things that he is experiencing such as general anxiety, depression. There are many accommodations that can overlap between ADHD and anxiety, like a "flash pass," extended time, preferential seating, etc. Schools often relate to certain profiles consistently, so if their typical way to handle a kid with ADHD and good grades is to ignore it, mental health concerns (i.e., emotional disability) may be easier to push as the primary diagnosis especially if the diagnosis is coming from outside the school. 

(Note: You want to be careful that emotional disabilities as the primary diagnosis doesn't lead down a path to educational classes/programs for kids with a lot of behavioral problems; these often have poorly trained staff and can be a dumping ground for kids. Don't let them attribute something like oppositional defiance disorder to him as he gets old either. This is especially true if he is a child of color.)

Also, there are often different school staff who manage IEPs and 504 plans, and you might find that one is more open than the other, in which case try that avenue if the most appropriate one isn't working. At the end of the day, you want accommodations and supports for your kid asap, and if you have to fight for all that is needed, if it takes years then at least he can have some of it now.

If you haven't put your request in writing, they will continue to deny it. When parents get this kind of reaction from schools, I usually suggest that they specifically state in an email "I am formally requesting an IEP" for their child sent to someone like the school counselor, special ed coordinator, assistant principal, principal, all of the above. This is not something to request of the teacher. You don't really need to say much in the email, but you have include these words in writing.

If the school has already gone through the IEP eligibility process and said no based on grades, then I would get the diagnosis from his therapist in a report that provides how long they have been treating him, what the diagnosis is including DSM codes, and what accommodations they recommend. If they are good, they will be open to hearing your suggestions about what accommodations are needed in school. The recommendations must be substantiated and seem reasonable with the diagnoses. ADHD should be included in this as well regardless of what the school says. There are many reasons why a school says "no" and documentation that doesn't provide the necessary information is a big one, but often they won't tell you how to get it right and just deny.

If you get through the IEP process and get a "no" then request that you next have a 504 plan meeting again in writing and in the meeting. The timelines for these aren't a strict as the IEP so you may need to push. Also, if the IEP or 504 plan are based on an emotional disability, keep in mind that this is not necessarily considered a lifetime disability and revisiting the eligibility question may be more of an issue annually. Just make sure that the outside documentation is up to date if needed.

If you can afford it, you may want to do this now and schedule a comprehensive evaluation outside of the school, which you can then use to go through this process even the school has done some evaluations because they won't be comprehensive nor will they tell you all you need to know about what is going on with your son. Part of knowing is for school accommodations, but it's also to know the whole picture because outside supports that aren't available in school are important to get too.

If your child has a history of being bullied, mention this to the school and the therapist/psychiatrist writing the report since this affects behavior in school as well. If it is happening now, many school districts have a formal process for filing a bullying complaint, and you should do this since some pretend there isn't a problem unless you do.

Unfortunately and fortunately, each IEP team and school and district "handle" things differently. Each year, the members of the team change somewhat and some years will change completely, which can help you if you are blocked now. So never stop trying.

It's hard to really give you information for all types of scenarios when I don't know the details, but hopefully this helps.

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