My Two Cents on Your ADHD Child and the School District
Insights into how to deal with teachers and school districts in helping your ADHD child.
My Two Cents on Schools and Districts
Here is my two cents worth on what I've learned dealing with the schools over the years in trying to get help for my son who has severe ADHD. While I realize that not all school districts and teachers are out to avoid providing educational services to your ADHD child, the fact is that many are.
If you happen to have a school staff that is not working with you, here are some things I have learned. Remembering that I am not a professional, just a mom who's been there and done that. Here is my best advice:
It's extremely important that if you want to advocate successfully for your ADHD child that you remain polite and in control at all times. Losing your temper does not get you anywhere. You do not have to be rude or obnoxious to be aggressive. The same goes for letters you might write. Remember that strangers not associated with your case may be reading your letters and you do not want to offend or alienate them.
Write everything down!! If your child is having problems in school and you are not getting the cooperation that you think you should be, start a journal. Get names, dates and times and any facts regarding any issues or incidents. Make sure you have copies of documents, notes, letters, a log of phone calls, etc. You may never need this information, but if you do, you'll have it.
Know your chain-of-command and use it. If you find yourself in the position of not getting your calls returned, go up the chain-of-command. If excuses such as "Mr. Brown is out of the office. He's in a meeting. He's on another line," etc. are growing old, then take action.
If Mr. Brown is away from his desk or on another line, ask to hold. If he continually is not in, get his supervisor, and if he or she is out, get their supervisor. I don't stop until I find somebody who can talk to me even if it means going to the state or county boards of education.
Don't make empty threats. While there are times when you really, really wish you could sue the school district, and they deserve to be sued, the facts are, the threats of lawyers and lawsuits don't even make them flinch. Unless there is cause for large sums of money, in the way of damages through injury, death, etc., lawyers do not like to take on the school districts because taxpayer-funded pockets run deep.
Very few of us have the means to pay for such suits out of our pockets and lawyers are unwilling to front the costs themselves. For the same reasons, school districts know that lawsuits are unlikely and if taken to court, can be dragged out and tied up forever.
The chain-of-command works both ways. I have found that when there is a possibility of trouble, ranks close. The principal protects the teacher and the district protects the principal, and the school board protects the district.
Because lawsuits are costly and because school staff never hestitate to make my son take responsiblity for his behavior/actions, I have started filing written complaints against school staff that mistreat my child, endanger his health/welfare/or safety, (including self-esteem) or who I feel need to be held accountable for their conduct. I also cross-file the complaint with the Special Education office if the action warrants it.
Each district has certain rules they follow concerning written complaints, but the great part about these types of actions is that they become a permanent part of that employee's record. A superintendant once told me that written complaints are often the only way they find out that an employee has problems. When their file is reviewed, or an employee is up for promotion, this is when the complaints will be found and taken into consideration.
While school districts may laugh at the mere mention of courtrooms and lawyers, they do not appreciate publicity. If you are suffering through some real injustices, do not hesitate to notify your local paper, t.v. station or reporter. They might get action where you haven't been able to.
Question Authority! I realize it's not the 70's, but the same holds true even for today. I believe that a lot of schools and districts depend on parents taking their word as gospel. Why not? They are educated professionals with lots of training. Why would a parent question a trained professional? If you don't ask questions, or know your rights, how can you be sure that you are being treated fairly and that you are being made aware of all your options?
Some educators depend on the fact that you don't know your rights and that you won't question their recommendations or actions. That's the best reason there is to question everything and make sure that you are indeed being given all the facts and options.
Last, but not least, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! I can't stress this enough. I can't say it enough and I can't impress upon you enough, how important this is. Some schools do not volunteer information, especially when it's going to cost them money in the way of services and accomodations.
You can be sure that these types of districts are not going to advertise what your child is entitled to and the only way to find out is to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
My son suffered because I didn't know my rights. Don't let this happen to you!
Staff, H. (2000, January 4). My Two Cents on Your ADHD Child and the School District, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/adhd/articles/your-adhd-child-and-the-school-district