School District Erroneously Requires Parent to Provide Medical ADHD Diagnosis in Order to Get 504 Plan

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In South Monterey County (CA) Joint Union High School District 112 LRP 28705 (OCR 2012), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined that a school district had violated Section 504 by requiring that a parent provide a medical diagnosis that her son had ADHD before  the District developed a 504 Plan. The student began attending  school in the District in his 9th grade year in the 2010-2011 school year. His mother met several times with school district staff trying to get the District to develop a 504 Plan for the student because he had been previously diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when he attended a different school district. Each time the mother met with the District, she was told that she must produce a medical diagnosis of ADHD in order to obtain a 504 Plan. The school district never offered to evaluate the student itself. The student performed very poorly in his classes getting grades of "Ds"and "Fs".

In January, 2011 the mother provided a diagnosis for her son from 2004 that identified him as having ADHD. Subsequently, the school district convened a meeting and developed a 504 plan that provided accommodations for the student. The mother, however, filed a complaint with OCR for the district's delay in developing the plan and for not conducting its own evaluation of the student.

The Office for Civil Rights determined that district staff had acted under the erroneous belief that a medical diagnosis was required to qualify a student for a 504 Plan. Moreover, the school district's mistake in requiring a medical diagnosis was exacerbated by requiring that the parent pay for the medical diagnosis. If the school district felt a diagnosis was needed, it was obligated to pay for the diagnosis. In order to avoid paying for the evaluation, the school district relied on an outdated diagnosis from 2004. This resulted in an inadequate 504 Plan. As a result, the student went for over a year and a half without being evaluated by the school district to either confirm, disprove, or modify his perceived diagnosis of ADHD and to identify the nature and extent of his possible disabilities. To remedy the 504 violation the school district agreed to conduct appropriate evaluations of the student, provide him with compensatory services, and to to train its staff on the requirements of section 504.