ADHD Rights for Private-School Students

Q:

My son attends a private school. The teachers are, at best, uninformed about ADHD. At worst, they don’t acknowledge it as a real condition, and they treat my son like a criminal. They are not interested in educating themselves on the subject, and I cannot force-feed them the information they need. What can be done to improve the situation?

ADDitude contributor Robert Tudisco is a practicing attorney with ADHD and an expert on special education law and disability advocacy.
A:

Most private schools do not receive government subsidies for their education programs, so they are exempt from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), certain portions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, many private school teachers are ill-equipped and/or unwilling to learn about or address the needs of children with ADHD and related conditions.

Don’t give up, though. Try to convince teachers that understanding your child’s special needs, and supporting reasonable accommodations, will make their job easier in the classroom. Let them know that you are willing to work with them.

If the school and teachers are still unresponsive, seek out other parents in a similar situation at the school, and explain to the administrators that you may need to transfer your children to public school to avail yourselves of the law. In these economic times, private schools do not want to lose students and tuition.

You should also know that some public-school districts provide support and/or services to private school students. Write a formal letter to your local school district requesting an evaluation for your child. Explain that he is not getting the support he needs at the private school he attends. He may be granted services.

Since Robert Tudisco was diagnosed with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, and now specializes in the area as a practicing attorney. He is a former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides specialized coaches for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment. He has served on the National Board of Directors of CHADD and is a former Vice President of ADDA. He is a frequent resource for the media, including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, and The Seattle Times.
 
 
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