Non-medicated kids exempt from school discipline?

We live in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. We got a mailing the other day from our grade school district discussing their last meeting. The following announcement caught my eye:


New regulations require school districts to adopt a policy stating that students whose doctors prescribe psychotropic/psychostimulant medications will not be subject to disciplinary measures due to their parents’ refusal to authorize the medications. These medications are typically prescribed for ADD and ADHD, conditions which can affect behavior in school.


This policy was required by law; it in no way changes existing [district] practice. [District] discipline has always been based on the best interest of the students.

I’m going to try to find out exactly what this means, and what law requires it. But as I read this “policy,” if a kid has a diagnosable behavior problem for which drugs have been prescribed, and the kid’s parents refuse to have the kid take the meds, if the kid subsequently misbehaves in school, he is not subject to discipline?


Am I misreading this, or simply missing the compelling interest behind such a policy? Does this interest override the interest of the other kids - those without diagnosed problems as well as those who follow prescribed treatment - from pursuing an education?

The paragraph doesn’t even make sense. It’s vague to the point of being meaningless. How are they supposed to teach kids how to write if that’s the best they can do? How sad.

Yeah, it sounds like the school is giving up, this reeks of layers of back and forth between parents and schools about discipline policy.
If anything, the kid should be subject to more frequent and lower intensity disciplinary measures. They don’t need less structure, they need more.
What the school should be doing is reporting such cases to child services to have neglect investigated.

Could they be trying to say that children will not be punished for not taking the medication? And perhaps they are also trying to acknowlege that this choice (not taking the medication) is made by the parents, not the child.

Agree with Hazel here.

They are just saying they aren’t going to discipline the kids for not taking their medicine.

Some schools have gotten in trouble for pushing parents to medicate their children.

That’s all.

It’s vague on purpose, I bet: go back and reread it–it is basically saying “This is the law you may have heard about. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to change anything.”

Sounds to me like they are trying to coerce parents into medicating children who may not need it. Working as a preschool teacher I saw the school and even doctors trying to medicate children (mostly boys) for acting like children.

Er, re-reading it, it sounds like the opposite of what I just said…

From :

I think I see what they’re getting at, but can anyone explicitly punish a kid just because his parents won’t put him on Ritalin? The “in part” thrown in there seems like a good way to let particularly weaselly parents get their kids out of hot water: “Timmy wouldn’t be so rambunctious if he were on Ritalin, and we refuse to put him on that demon pill, so you can’t punish him. It’s the law.”

That is idiotic. People with ADHD need two things–medication and structure. Taking away one because you don’t have the other one is about the worst move I can think of.

Dr. J

How often is Ritalin taken? I can pretty easily see a school suspending a child (or at least trying to) until the parent provides the medication the child is supposed to take during the school day. And the “in part” doesn’t seem to me to be giving the kid a way out- if Timmy’s being punished for being rambunctious, he’s being punished for being rambunctious. But if Timmy and Tommy (who either hasn’t been prescribed Ritalin or is taking it) both have the same general conduct, but Timmy gets punished more severely for the same behavior, it starts to look like Timmy’s punishment is partly based on his behavior and partly on the lack of medication.

I think you’re right. Now that I’ve seen the wording of the law, I think they’re just saying “We have to comply with this law that is a load of bullshit, so here we go - we’re complying.”

As I said, I need to do some more looking into this. Thanks for the cite, Doc.

If nothing else, this highlights the difficult challenges the public schools are in, if they are required to try to provide an education to every child - however differently abled.