Can a School Make Medication a Requirement for My Child to Attend?

By Mark Griffin

My son has ADHD. I admit he’s pretty rambunctious sometimes. But can his school force him to take medication? I’d prefer to avoid using ADHD meds, but I can’t tell what our options are. Can the school make medication a requirement for my child to attend?

Mark Griffin

Founding Headmaster, Eagle Hill School

No, the law is very clear about this. Schools cannot require a child to take medication. Any decisions about ADHD medication should be made solely by you and your child’s doctor.

Maybe school staff members think your child is showing signs of a condition that might benefit from medication. If so, they can suggest that he be evaluated to see if he qualifies for special education. They’re allowed to describe the behaviors they’re seeing. They can say how your child’s behavior is negatively affecting his learning. But they shouldn’t even bring up medication.

If you ever feel like you’re being asked to consider medication in order for your child to attend school or to receive certain services, talk to the school. You can say that you were confused because you didn’t think schools could require families to put a child on medication. It’s helpful to follow up with a short letter that explains what you were told in the meeting.

If the school’s response is not satisfactory, you may want to complain to your state’s Department of Education. Requiring a child to take medication would be a violation of his rights.

Understood is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company.

About the Author

Portrait of Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.

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