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Can the parents of an ADHD student take legal action to prevent their son from being transferred to a lower level class?

Chatham, NJ |
Filed under: Education law

I have a student in my Honors Physics class who was forced to drop the class and transfer to the lower level Standard Physics at the end of the first quarter. The school policy requires that any student with a grade below a C- in an Honors class is required to transfer to a lower level class. However the parents were not informed prior to registering their son for Honors Physics that he would be 3 months behind if he were forced to transfer to the lower level class. This is the only Honors level class for which this is a problem when students are forced to transfer. Is this discrimination? This ADHD student has difficulty focusing in the lower level classes because of the distractions that are more prevalent at that level. The administration refuses to allow him to stay in my class.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    In answer to your question, what you describe does not constitute unlawful discrimination against this student.

    In answer to the real question here -- the question you have not asked -- you seem to be the teacher in this summary of facts. Your concerns are most likely well-intentioned, but it is not appropriate for you to either give the parents advice in this circumstance or to interject your own views into this situation. You owe your employer duties of loyalty and compliance and this post raises troubling inferences that you have lost sight of your duties to your employer. The parents have the ability to seek out legal advice if they choose, but this is not your fight. Don't put your job in jeopardy by getting into a fight that is not yours to wage.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

  2. Your question entails a number of federal and state laws, most notably the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973), the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act, and the NJ LAD (Law Against Discrimination). The best answer with the facts that your relate is that it could be discrimination. It could be a violation of the student's IEP (as a student with ADHD, he could be classified as OHI if he needed specialized designed instruction). It could violate his rights under 504, the ADA, and/or the LAD.

    The real question is why was he doing below a C- in your class. Maybe he just isn't good at chemistry. If you think it is because he needed some accommodation to address his ADHD (e.g. more time to take an exam - typically 1/2 again or double time) or maybe he needs to be evaluated for some other issue, then you should communicate it to his special education case manager. However, you should do that in writing and keep a copy for your own protection. You might want to let your union rep know also so as to CYA any retaliation by the administration against you for your lawful and appropriate actions. They will not like your actions.

    You might recommend to the parents that they retain an education attorney.

  3. It is admirable to see teachers looking out for the well-being of their students. SInce it is not indicated, I will assume for purposes of this answer that the student in question has either a 504 Plan or an IEP. As a teacher, you could certainly go to the child study team and document your concerns and it would then be their responsibility to determine if that student's Plan or goals and objectives were being followed, met, or not attainable. Perhaps they would need to be modified or more or different accommodations added to better meet the student's goals and objectives or the expectations in your class so that this student would meet more success. It would be the role of the child study team to inform the parents that they have the legal right to challenge whether to not the student's educational placement is providing the student with a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. However, there is nothing to prevent you from suggesting that the parents speak to the child study team. This answer is for educational purposes only, It is not meant to create any attorney client relationship or to provide legal advice.

    By answering this question, this does not create any attorney client relationship between the parties and this answer is meant for educational purposes only.

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