Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: What If the Teacher Doesn’t Follow the 504 Plan?

“My son’s algebra teacher refuses to accept his late work or provide a quiet room for tests, despite accommodations to this effect in his 504 Plan. His grades are suffering as a result, so the school wants to move him down to repeat pre-algebra. How will that solve anything?”

ADDitude Answers

This teacher needs to be reminded that your child is not willfully disobedient when he doesn’t turn in assignments. He has a disability that makes it very hard to complete his work. 99% of teachers refuse to even be open to seeing that distinction, and it’s maddening.

Here are the accommodations I’d request:

1) Testing in separate room, where it’s quiet and has minimal distraction.

2) No time limit on tests.

3) Reduced assignments. This is a big one! If your son is consistently not able to complete the work without spending hours on it, then he’s being punished for having a disability by requiring him to spend so much more time on his work than his peers. Math is notorious for having worksheets with dozens of problems with a practice-makes-perfect approach. Your son should be able to do every other problem and demonstrate whether or not he knows the material. Use this article’s tips for: Simplifying Homework for ADHD and LD Students.

4) Extended time on all assignments.

Don’t let the school push him down to a lower math class over incomplete work. The law says the school must accommodate students with disabilities so that they have the same opportunities for education. Smart kids are just as protected by the law as any other kids, despite most educators believing that the level of intelligence is the sole determining factor of academic potential. Read this article for more information: The School Evaluation Process: How to Get Formal Assessments and Appropriate Services

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

ADDitude Answers

Document every instance in which a teacher refused to follow accommodations listed on your IEP/504 Plan. Each time your son takes a test without being given the option of going to a quiet room, or hands work in late and it is not accepted, send an e-mail or letter to the school, explaining that the teacher is refusing to follow the IEP. Because these are legal documents, the teacher doesn’t get to decide if he thinks it is reasonable.

You might also want to request a follow-up meeting with your school district’s 504 coordinator, to request additional accommodations. These can include doing every other problem for homework, or having assignments reduced in another way, eliminating time restraints for tests, having take-home tests, or testing in a quiet environment (I think you already have that one).

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

A Reader Answers

I am actually going through a very similar situation with 8th grader in Algebra. His teacher has actually written in emails that my “intentionally” and “chose not to” turn homework assignments when actually he forgot or they were misplaced or lost. She refused to accept his late work despite accommodations. Three days later the teacher failed to provide a separate room and/or headphones, saying it was his duty to remind her. He has a 504 plan, and I will be meeting with an attorney.

His grades don’t reflect his knowledge. Being downgraded to pre-algebra won’t address his problem taking tests, or help him get better grades. Instead, he needs effective help to overcome those challenges.

Maybe an alternative school or different teacher would be able to teach math in a way your son could excel at.

You’ve done a great job providing supports for your son. Kudos to you! Best of luck!

Posted by upsideoutlook32

A Reader Answers

Our 12-year-old granddaughter is fortunate to be in a school district that is responsive to collaborative input from her parents. Early on, we agreed that accommodations must be task-based and actionable. We used the SMART system to develop her 504 Plan so that both our granddaughter and her teachers know what’s expected.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Attainable

R: Relevant

T:  Timely

Examples include: “M will meet with counselor once a week to check in and receive support for frustration”; “Class teacher will check that M. has a checklist on her desk to make sure she brings all necessary items home for completion of homework,” etc.

In every case, parents should make sure that accommodations fit their child’s needs, and regularly monitor that the accommodations are being provided. If they aren’t, you need to meet with the accommodations team and principal to enforce and/or revise them.

Posted by Big Red

A Reader Answers

If your son has an IEP in place, I would find out who you need to talk to, to enforce it.

There is plenty of research to show that holding a child back doesn’t help. Simply doing the same thing over again is not the solution. In addition to this kids know that they have been held back and they feel like a failure from then on.

Google the research on this and present it to the school. Here is one link for you: Grade Retention: A Failed Educational Strategy.

Trust your instincts and go in to fight for him. This won’t be the last time you will have to do this during his schooling.

Posted by AussieMum

A Reader Answers

You may also consider calling your locally based office of Civil Rights to ask for advice.

Consider contacting higher-up administrators in your school district to suggest training for school staff because they obviously don’t get the many implications of ADHD.

School staff attitudes are one of the single most difficult hurdles for parents to overcome. Sometimes they are just stubborn and won’t change. You may want to consider a special school or an out-of-district transfer if this keeps up. The emotional cost to your son is just not worth it to stay.

Posted by spedexaminer