Dear ADDitude: Can the School Reject Documentation from my Doctor?

"Can the school refuse to acknowledge or accept medical documentation from our psychiatrist? The principal told me that the psychiatrist will 'say whatever Mom wants.'"
Success at School | posted by Chris Zeigler Dendy, M.S.

ADDitude Answers

It sounds to me like you’re trying to get extra help for your child who most likely is struggling in school. A statement from a physician, including general practitioners, pediatricians or psychiatrists is often helpful in determining if your child needs extra supports at school.

Here’s what I would do. Talk with your child’s teacher and ask for an assessment to determine if he is eligible for extra services under IDEA or Section 504.

As part of the assessment, the school may interview you, ask you to fill out a rating scale, describe any extra supports you provide at home, explain your major concerns, and list the strategies that have helped in the past.

If by chance, the school tells you that your child isn’t eligible for services, don’t give up. This happened to one mother I know, and after reading my summaries on IDEA and Section 504, plus attending an ADHD conference, she returned to school and repeated her question: “Why is he not eligible for a 504 Plan?” She knew the laws were on her side, so she called the superintendent who took action. The mother was right and the teacher, guidance counselor, special education teacher and vice principal were misinformed about Section 504. Her tenacity paid off; her son is currently being assessed for eligibility.

Posted by Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S.
Former educator, school psychologist, and mental health professional with 40 years of experience.


A Reader Answers

I believe if you do an IEE the school must accept it as it is essentially their report. I think a lot has to do if you use one of the people/groups they they provide you, so they may not be inclined to listen to an outside psychiatrist.

In the end, it really comes down to having an advocate, doctor, or someone with a higher “status” than the school reps to compete with them. I find the school will keep pulling the “they know best” unless you have someone that knows more than them and can speak to that.

Posted by motherhenn


A Reader Answers

Technically, the district does not need to accept an independent evaluation as they would their own; they only have to give it serious consideration.

In practice, a district would be crazy to completely disregard a truly independent outside opinion.

Your school's principal is right though: there is a small percentage of less-than-ethical assessors that write whatever the person who hired them wants. The district still has to document that they considered the report and why they disagreed.

Again, this is rare. Everyone knows who they are, and their work is usually sub-par.

Posted by Dr. Eric


A Reader Answers

I have a child that has basically not been taught because he is impulsive, hard to keep focused, and all of the other things that go along with ADHD. After his last testing session the school decided he was "mentally retarded" and wanted to send him to a special class in which he would have no way to get grade level instruction. Since I disagreed with the testing, I asked for an IEE. I used the psychologist that the school requested and he proceeded to say that my son was not MR — but he was ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome and suffered from a non-verbal learning disability. After presenting the findings to the school they decided that they were just going to use their interpretation of the results and that he would be taken out of mainstream school. The only alternative we had was to pull him out of school and homeschool him. He is now in a public virtual school and although he struggles he is making passing grades.

Schools tend to do whatever they want. Remember they can do whatever they want unless they are called to task on it. Anything is legal unless you get caught. We are still fighting this battle. We believe that the school system has denied our child his civil rights by not providing FAPE and the least restrictive environment.

Posted by fomc99


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