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This month, a short and to the point question about disciplining children

I need suggestions on alternative ways to discipline a child with ADD.  I do not and will not spank.  Please help

Last Month: A mother is looking for ways to help her teenage son deal with anger.


by Steve Glink

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This Month

What rights do parents have in the Special Education Process?

Can a child be excluded from activities based on a diagnosis of ADHD?


I have two boys ages 12 and 7 , although my 12 year old has shown signs of ADD my 7 year old started showing signs of  ADHD, which of course had gotten my attention right away. When my 7 year  old was 2 years old I put him day care , he got kicked out of there because he did not want to take a nap, and calling the teachers F...... was not acceptable (especially sense it was a Christian Day Care). The next school he attended he threatened the teacher with the knife in his backpack (he was 3 then and did not have a knife or a back pack) By 4 years old (pre-school) the teacher said he was a threat to her and her students. By 5 years old there was an assessment done  and the IEP team labeled him emotionally disturbed and having ADHD. So they recommended an all day Day Treatment Program for him. I went to all the IEP meetings and at the time I agreed with his placement. The main reason he was going to this school is because we ( we being the school , the school district, and myself) were afraid of his aggressiveness towards other kids. This aggressiveness was 1 1/2 years ago . The school he was attending (Day Treatment ) is a very restrictive place , they restrain kids ( hold them as if they were in a straight jacket, little padded rooms with a small window so they could watch the kid throw a fit, and a place called Core where they separate the child and take  them to a secluded part of the school to do there class work) Core looks like it was a bathroom facility w/o the toilet bowls and the doors that go on the stall. My son is 7 years old and does not know how to read  or write and I told the school repeatedly that  If I let him attend this school that he still would be at the same level he would be in as if he were in a reg. school, they said yes if not higher because of the teacher - student ratio. Now after 21/2 years I bring up the fact that my son still cant read and I don't feel he's up to grade level if were to attend a reg. school , his therapist says "of course he's not , He is in special ed". That pretty much did right there  he has not displayed any aggressiveness towards other children in about 1 1/2 years  and that's why he was attending this school in the first place . The school accepts kids between the ages of 5-19yrs old, a week prior to this I went to a  therapy meeting where I seen a student getting pulled from class by the sheriffs  department in handcuffs , I told the therapist what I 'd seen and she said 'I know it makes me sick every time that happens sometimes students  will make wrong choices and they might bring weapons to school or what not. I do not want my 7 year old to go to a school like this ,so  I pulled him from there and put him in his neighborhood school , well the Castro Valley School District said we strongly suggest that he not go back to that school tomorrow (his neighborhood school) and I said you guys strongly suggest he not go back or Wont let him go back, they said they Wont let him go back they want him to stay at the Day Treatment Program , and I being his mother and legal guardian say no more Day Treatment  , I will get him counseling or what ever is needed but he no longer needs such an intense program, needless to say my son has been out of school sense  Oct.15,2001 and they are refusing to let him go to school unless its where THEY say , I sure do not remember seeing any of these people in the delivery room when my son was being born, as a parent I need to know what rights I have and I need to know what rights they have because as of right now I  feel he is being totally discriminated against because he has ADHD.

Dear Susan: Your e-mail to the ADDHelpline/ ask the advocate was forwarded to me for review and response. I am an attorney licensed to practice only in Illinois. I do handle many special education matters, which are covered by various provisions of federal law. Your e-mail does not say what state you live in. That could be important because state laws vary from state to state. So do judicial decisions (i.e., a judge in Illinois may rule completely differently than a judge from Michigan on the same question). Also, a court ruling depends upon which version of the facts is accepted by the court. I have reviewed your facts and will base my response on that. However, I must caution you that there is no guarantee that a judge or a hearing officer will accept your version of the facts. Finally, my comments are intended to give you some idea what you might be able to do. At this point, without having reviewed the full file or entered into an attorney-client relationship, my comments should not be construed as legal advice.
Your e-mail raises several significant legal issues. The first issue is whether the school can force your son to attend the school of their choice. Under federal law, if there is a dispute about the appropriateness of a child's placement, the child must remain in the last agreed upon placement until the dispute is resolved unless the parties agree to a different/ interim placement. That is known as the stay-put rule. In my opinion, right now, they can prevent your son from going to the neighborhood school under this rule. The one recognized exception is where the current placement poses a threat/danger to the student's health and welfare. You might be able to argue that placing a 7 year old in a therapeutic day school for ED kids that are much older (13-19) poses a threat (it certainly seems inappropriate). However, you still cannot force the school district to let him into one of their other schools. You would have to find a private placement that would accept your son and then try to get reimbursement via a due process hearing. If you want to challenge this aspect of the case, you must file for a due process hearing. In Illinois, that is done by sending a letter to the school superintendent demanding a hearing and sending a copy of the letter to the State Board of Education. Every state is different so check with your state board of education on that. Most of them have websites that explain the process.
The next question/issue is whether the day treatment school is the appropriate placement now! The law requires that the placement be "appropriate" to meet the students educational needs. Appropriate is not defined in the law. It is determined on a case by case basis. here are a couple of things to consider:
1. What is the opinion of your son's private therapist? What is the basis of that Opinion?
2. When was the last time that your son was assessed? Did the school do a speech/language evaluation? How long ago? Is there any suspicion of LD too? Under the law, there is supposed to be an annual meeting and a re-evaluation every three years.
3. What is the basis for your comment that your son cannot read? Are there any results from school tests that support your statement? If there are, that can be helpful in demonstrating that his placement is not meeting his educational needs.
4. What are the educational goals developed by the school? What is your son's record on meeting these goals? If he is meeting their goals and he still cannot read, then the goals seem improper. If he cannot meet the goals, they may be too high. In any event, the reading issue needs to be addressed in the IEP. Your private therapist may be able to help you on that.
5. You have the right to request a meeting at anytime if you want to address/challenge the current placement. You have the right to request up to date evaluations. Under the law, the school must pay for those. However, they can select their own people to do the evaluations. You have to be careful there. You do have the right to get your own independent evaluation. However, you must pay for it UNLESS you can prove that their evaluation was incorrect AND that yours was correct. That is not always easy to do.If they refuse to do the requested evaluations, you must request an expedited due process hearing. If you have the IEP meeting and they refuse to change the placement, you must file for a due process hearing.
Under the law, if you send them a letter asking for the basis of their decisions (denying the evaluation or denying the change in placement, etc.), they MUST respond in writing.This is called the prior written notice rule. Sometimes, they can make a serious mistake by failing to respond or, if they respond, by including improper reasons for their actions.
I hope that this response was helpful. I strongly suggest that you obtain the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in special ed./ school law because your case sounds very complicated. Feel free to contact me again if you have any further questions. Please let me know how things work out. Steven Glink



Is there any kind of law that can ban a child from youth activities and Sunday school from a church for having ADHD with behavior problems?

I need some advice.

Thank you


Nancy: Thanks for your question. Before I answer, I must tell you that I am an attorney licensed to practice only in Illinois. I am not familiar with laws or court decisions in other states. I am familiar with federal law on this issue, but court decisions vary from state to state and between federal districts.

There are no laws that ban children with ADD or ADHD from activities or Sunday School/church. On the contrary, there are laws designed to protect these children. Under a variety of federal laws (i.e., the ADA; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; IDEA), kids with disabilities are entitled to "accommodations" for their disabilities. With respect to activities, the ADA provides, in essence, that no otherwise qualified individual shall be denied the opportunity and/or benefits of participation in activities of a public entity due to his disability. Section 504 has similar language, but requires that the entity involved be a recipient of federal funds. The real question is whether the activities that you describe are those of a "public entity."

The church is probably a private organization, but may come under the jurisdiction of federal law. That would have to be checked out. You should also check your state's/ city's anti-discrimination laws. You can start an investigation by filing a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department or your local prosecuting authority. I hope that this was helpful.Steve Glink


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