IEPs & 504 Plans

Troubleshoot Your Child’s IEP or 504 Plan

‘‘The school district was more interested in punishing my child than providing needed services.” Learn how to combat this and four other common problems with IEP and 504 Plans for students with ADHD.


Many parents find it hard to get the best ADHD accommodations for their child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), and, if they do get them, to make sure that they are being implemented.

Here are fixes for four common problems with an IEP or 504 Plan:

After a month, I realized that the ADHD accommodations my daughter got in her 504 Plan weren’t working. I want to drop them for more effective ones.

You can request changes to an IEP or a 504 Plan if it is not working. If it is to tweak a small, classroom-based accommodation, to be implemented by the teacher, you should speak to the teacher. If he or she agrees to make the change, just do it. Remember to mention this change at the next 504 team meeting, and make it a formal part of your child’s 504 Plan at that time.

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If the change is more complex, or needs to be implemented by staff other than the classroom teacher, it should become part of a formal change to the 504 Plan. To do this, write a note to the head of the school’s 504 team, explaining what you want to change and why. Ask whether this can be done without a meeting.

My son’s school is hesitant to formally assess him because he is “making progress,” even though he still struggles a lot.

If you have met with the school to explain your son’s struggles, and they still decline to conduct an evaluation, remind them of their obligation to evaluate all children who are suspected of having a disability, something the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) calls “child find.” The fact that your son is making some progress does not mean he doesn’t have a disability that would qualify him for special education services or accommodations under the IDEA or Section 504. If the school still refuses to conduct an evaluation, you can initiate a hearing before a State Hearing Officer to compel the school to conduct an assessment.

I was told in an IEP meeting that the school can’t provide the service that my son needs.

If the district does not have the service, and the parent believes the child needs the service, the parent should seek legal guidance to force the district to provide the service. Say to the head of the IEP team: “I’ve done some research, and I know that the fact that you don’t offer the service is not a sufficient excuse for not providing it. Let’s put our heads together and find a way for the school to provide the service.” That should get the process moving.

For some reason, my son’s teacher isn’t following his IEP.

ADHD accommodations in an IEP are not privileges; they are rights to which your son is entitled. An IEP is a legal document, and the law requires that it be followed. However, assuming you have already spoken to the teachers to ask why they are not implementing the IEP, speak to the school’s principal and/or the head of your son’s IEP team. At this meeting, you can express your concern, and request that they speak to the teachers involved and remind them of their obligation to implement your son’s IEP. If that does not work, you should arrange for an IEP meeting to come up with a plan to make sure that teacher compliance is better supervised in the future.

[How Do I Create an IEP for My Child? Find Out in this Free Resource]