Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: Can the School Expel My Child for ADHD Behaviors?

“After expelling my child for poor behavior, his principal told me, ‘This behavior was not related to his ADHD.’ How do I determine if this is true? And how can I fight the school administration over his expulsion if a disability is, in fact, to blame?”

ADDitude Answers

It might be time to talk to professionals who are familiar with your child. If your child sees a therapist, or a behavioral therapist, talk to him about the incident to get his opinion. If not, get your son’s doctor’s opinion on whether ADHD could cause this behavior. Once you have that information, make an appointment with the principal to discuss the matter.

Another option is to work with an educational advocate to gather the relevant information and talk with the principal and other administrators on your child’s behalf. One of the questions the advocate might ask is whether this is an isolated incident, or if there a history of bad behavior. If there have been repeated incidents, what steps did the school take? If you don’t get results from these actions, file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, to determine whether your child is being discriminated against because of his ADHD.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism


ADDitude Answers

When a child’s behavior is related to their disability, the school is not allowed to expel them. The law says that one way that behavior will be determined to be related to disability is if the school has failed to implement the IEP appropriately in a way that’s related to the behavior. So, if you had a good behavior plan and the school didn’t implement it correctly, then your child can’t be expelled even though their behavior might otherwise be determined to have been something they should be expelled for. Start with your IEP, and investigate where the school may have dropped the ball.

Posted by Matt Cohen
Founder of Matt Cohen and Associates, specializing in special education and mental health law


A Reader Answers

Go to Wright’s Law and get a child advocate with manifestation experience and an attorney to go with you to the conference.

Posted by Bensonadvocates


A Reader Answers

Sounds to me like you might need an education advocate (if you can’t afford one, many will work pro bono) and you can locate one through an attorney’s office. At a minimum, the principal — and maybe the school system — will understand that you are serious regarding your son’s entitled rights!

Hopefully these comments make sense to you. Please, let us know what happens!!

Posted by Jdrey71


A Reader Answers

I can relate to your story. My son was suspended multiple times in kindergarten for being disruptive and violent. My take is that the school didn’t know how to handle him. Trying to find a medication that worked was a nightmare though, and I still struggle with wondering if it was the right decision — but I see the progress that he’s made and how much better he can function when he’s on it, and I’m glad I did it. He was switched to a special program for children with behavioral issues at the end of the kindergarten school year. He is in third grade now and his school life has made a 180-degree turnaround. They are talking about integrating him back into his home school but the idea honestly scares me since he is doing so well where he is now.

Posted by cozydragon82


A Reader Answers

They may not expel him based on a disability. Period. If he has been formally diagnosed, it is on record. If he has an IEP, it is on record. If he is receiving services at school, it is on record.

If it is not formally identified yet, I’m pretty sure they can expel him if they think he may be a danger to himself or others.

Posted by Pdxlaura