Mailbox: Q&As from the ADHD Community

 ADHD Weekly 2017-07-06

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Changing school districts

Question: We are moving during the summer and my child will start school in a new school district this fall. Will my child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan transfer if he changes schools?

Answer: Yes, your child’s IEP will transfer from his former school district to his new one. However, there are some things you should know about the process.

When a child changes public school districts within the same state and in the same school year with an IEP in effect, the new district becomes responsible for providing the services described in the previous IEP. The new school should work with you while the school district’s education team evaluates your child and develops a new IEP that corresponds to his needs and his prior IEP, and meets the requirements of federal and state law (Education of Individuals with Disabilities, Chapter 33, 20 USC 1414 (d)(2)(C)(i)(II)). The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires that the new school must do its best to obtain your child’s records, including the IEP and supporting documentation, from the previous school in the state (FERPA, 34 CFR 300.323 (g)(1)).

If you are moving from one state to another, however, getting his IEP arranged will be different. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require the school in your new state to accept the education plan from your child’s former school, but it does have to provide an evaluation and develop a new plan. The new school district does not have to provide exactly the same services as were defined in his prior IEP, but it does have to provide matching services.

If you and the school district cannot agree on what these matching services are, you can work with a mediator or follow due process procedures. For some families and schools that cannot agree, this sometimes can mean going to court to resolve the disagreement.

Additionally, the local school district is required to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to your child until it:

  • Conducts an evaluation (if determined to be necessary by the new public school)
  • Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP, if appropriate, that meets applicable requirements

IDEA does not require sending student disciplinary information when the child transfers from one school to another. However, if a state requires its schools to include disciplinary statements in student records, those disciplinary statements can include a description of any behavior that required disciplinary action, a description of the disciplinary action taken, and any other information important to the safety of your child and other people involved with your child. Disciplinary actions that involved weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury could be included in these descriptions.

Procedures for students who receive Section 504 services are similar to the above. However, the requirements for putting in place a Section 504 plan are less specific than those of the special education laws outlined under IDEA, which means putting it in place is not always consistent from district to district and state to state. When you work to transfer a Section 504 plan to a new school, it is recommended you that request a copy of the new school district’s policies and procedures surrounding Section 504 to better understand what to expect.

Traveling this summer

Question: Our family is traveling during the summer break. Two of our children are taking medication for ADHD as part of their treatment plans. I’ve had some friends caution me about traveling with medications for them. Is it illegal to carry ADHD medications?

Answer: No, it is not necessarily illegal to carry your medication or the medication of your minor child while traveling. However, law enforcement officers are vigilant about prescription medication abuse. If you come to the attention of the police or other agencies for another problem such as a traffic violation or disorderly conduct, and you are carrying ADHD medication in an unmarked container, you may be at greater risk of being suspected of illegal use of a controlled substance. It’s important to carry medications in their original containers from the pharmacy. You may also consider carrying a doctor’s note with the medications, especially if you are carrying medication for a minor child.

It is generally not considered illegal to carry ADHD medication as long as the person carrying the medication is the person for whom the medication has been properly prescribed or the parent or guardian of a minor child who is traveling with you. However, depending on where you live, state law may require the medication be carried in the original prescription bottle with a current label that identifies the person for whom the medication is intended.

If you’re concerned about this, what should you do?

  1. Know the law in your state.
  2. For everyday purposes, only carry medication outside the home if absolutely necessary.
  3. If you need to carry medication with you, it’s best to carry it in its original prescription bottle that clearly identifies your name, or your child’s name, and date of prescription.
  4. It may also be advisable to carry a copy of your most recent prescription from the physician.
  5. If you plan to travel internationally, contact the United States Department of State or the embassy of the country you plan to visit for more information on bringing your medications to another country. Do not assume that because a medication is prescribed in the United States that it will be legal in the country you plan to visit.

What are controlled substances?

Question: What is meant when my medication is called a “controlled substance?” This makes it sound like my medication is somehow considered a bad thing.

Answer: Your medications, prescribed by your doctor, are not a bad thing. They are, however, regulated by the federal government. Several types of medication for ADHD are referred to as controlled substances because of their ingredients. A “controlled substance” is defined as any chemical substance, or its chemical precursor, whose manufacture, possession, or use is controlled and regulated by federal law.

Some medications are regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 21 USC Sec. 812), which identifies some ingredients in those medications as “controlled substances” in the United States and which are subject to strict regulation. The CSA has a 5-level “Schedule” that identifies which drugs or substances are considered to be “controlled substances” and thus subject to this regulation. A particular substance is assigned to one of these Schedules (I – V) based on its potential for abuse. The CSA identifies numerous medications that treat a variety of medical and psychological conditions, but which also may be subject to misuse, as controlled substances, in addition to some substances that are considered “illegal drugs” or “street drugs.”

The CSA is a federal law and provides a baseline set of standards that apply throughout the United States. Individual states may have expanded lists of medications, more rules regarding who and how medication is dispensed or carried, and higher penalties for noncompliance.

Question: So are ADHD medications considered “controlled substances” by federal law?

Answer: Yes, most medications used to treat ADHD—including the various formulations of methylphenidate and amphetamine—are considered controlled substances. This is why most prescriptions for ADHD medications are typically written for 30 days. Most ADHD medications are classified as Schedule II substances. (Among other criteria, a substance is classified as Schedule II if the “abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.”)

Looking for more information?

Do you have a question for our health information specialists? Call us at (866) 200-8098, Monday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. 

Are you planning to move over the summer and wondering how it will affect your child’s IEP or 504 Plan? What about traveling with your medication? We answer some common questions from ADHD community members. Keep reading for information from our Health Information Specialists.