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504 Instead - Denied IEP Evaluation due to Good Grades

Jean G


Hello! I had a meeting with the school's SST (Student Services Team). They declined my son's request for an IEP evaluation despite my concerns with my 10 yr old son's signs of  Executive Function deficits in class. Because his English and Math assessments are above benchmark, they state it is not affecting his learning and therefore doesn't warrant an IEP evaluation.  He had been diagnosed as ADHD outside of the school.

The most I can get was a 504 and that they provide my son strategies to better manage his time and organization skills. From my understanding, IEP teaches skills and 504 only does class modifications and no skills are taught. 

I made the case that my son may just be a good test taker and addressed that he struggles in the classroom. He fidgets and doesn't focus all the time. I just couldn't get over their argument about his disability was "not affecting his learning" due to his test reading and math classroom assessments.   Can you advise on how to counter or advise on how to get the services he needs? Thank you!

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Don't use the 'M' word.  Modifications change what he's taught.  This can prevent getting a diploma after HS.  504s offer accommodations.  This can be extra time, help with packing the backpack, a 2nd set of books to keep at home.  IMO, all students need strategies to help them remember things.  Having a fidget to hold if this helps him to concentrate can be a 504 accommodation.  He may not look like he's focusing but if he's passing the schools tests, the info is getting through.  Does your state mandated gifted enrichment?  Sometimes, bored students go of task because what the teacher is covering is all review to them.  You might want to talk to him about school and if he feels he needs more support as well as what sort of support he needs.  (Some schools use Universal Design and support is available to every student no matter if they are gen ed, sp ed or have a gifted IEP.  You might want to ask if his school is doing this.)

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You can remind the school grades or testing are just one factor to be used in decision making.  And they cannot wait for a student to fail to offer an Evaluation. 

thinks to consider and add to an email for the school: 

What struggles do you see in school work or in behavior/etc at home after school or related to school?  (Like comes home exhausted or agitated from in school struggles, forgets to turn in school work, difficulty with multi step,  long assignment or assignments spread over multiple weeks) 

is it clear where his struggles are and what would help?  Or is more data needed?  

what skills does he need to develop?  Does he have tools to develop those skills on his own? 

consider his needs for accommodations, goals, and services (for example, time with Occupational Therapist, Executive Function Coach, other staff support)   And transition planning (from school to school and after high school) services. 
these things can be added to a 504 plan, too. But, generally the 504 is not as robust. The IEP has more parental rights, too. 

remember for an IEP he must be eligible under one of the 13 categories- ADHD usually falls under the category Other Health Impairment. 

if they refused to evaluate, did they give you a Prior Written Notice?  It should state the reasons for the denial. 

under the IDEAs  Child Find provision they MUST evaluate if there is a known or suspected disability.  They cannot deny an evaluation because of good grades/testing.  You can ask them about the Child Find duty and how it is not applicable to him - and include that in the PWN  

You can accept the 504 now while additional testing around known and suspected disabilities is completed for a potential IEP.  An IEP can take months to develop, the 504 usually two meetings in under a month. 

put everything in writing, always. 

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