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Expert Q&A

Can schools legally keep students with ADHD off of the honor roll because of behavior issues?

My son is in the 7th grade. He has ADHD, and we have an aid with him in his classes. He was an honor student every quarter last year. He is at the same school this year, but now, even though he has the marks for an honor student, they refuse to designate him an honor student because of his behavior. His behaviors include sometimes talking out or talking without raising his hand. We hired a lawyer in elementary school, but we can’t afford it now; and I remember the lawyer saying that they can’t penalize him because of his behavior. Thank you for your help with this.

Dear Dominick:

If the “honor student” system uses criteria that are not based on behavior, there would be a strong argument that your son’s disability-related behavior should not be a basis for denying him the honor. If the honor does have criteria related to behavior, his disability should be taken into account as a factor that is contributing to his inability to meet the behavioral criteria. Though the school may be permitted to consider it to some extent, they should also review whether they have taken appropriate steps to address and provide support for him so that the behavior is not a problem.

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