Big Changes to §504: Do They Affect Special Education - Postscript Part I

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...Image via Wikipedia

I am constantly amazed by the number of high quality readers this blog attracts. Thank you - to all of you.

One such reader is Jo Anne Simon, a lawyer and professor, who advocates on behalf of parents of kids with disabilities. She recently shared with me her testimony before Congress when they were considering the ADA amendments (which also changed the eligibility requirements for §504.

She contacted me about the recent series on the changes to §504 and what they mean for the education of children with disabilities. She has some well articulated opinions.

Here is a portion of her testimony before Congress:

"Concerns that the ADAAA will compel schools to provide services to students who don’t really need them are misplaced. Whether a student has a disability and what, if any, services he needs are two distinct issues. Take the hypothetical child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder whose medication fully corrects the symptoms of his disorder. That is actually unlikely to be the case since medication does not improve deficits in working memory, processing speed, lexical access or executive functioning. However, even if medication had a completely corrective effect, that child would still be protected from discrimination based on his disability. Protection from discrimination, however, only requires the provision of services where there is a demonstrated need for those services. The ADA does not require needless service provision. The greater danger, of course, is that a child entitled to protection and perhaps in need of services, will not get them, and will not have the opportunity to learn what he could and should be learning."

You can review her comments in their entirety here.

As with anything in special education law, there are lots of viewpoints. In the next post in this postscript series, I will share some more reaction to the first posts in the series. Stay tuned.