Hints / Tips

Special Education – Role of Attorney

If your child is in special education you have an absolute right to consult with or be represented by an attorney.  Of course using an attorney involves cost so you want to carefully consider how an attorney can help, whether it is a question of eligibility for your child or, if he is already eligible for special education, an upcoming IEP, her need for a change in her program (whether public or private school, new or different related services), disciplinary issues, strategies for an upcoming IEP meeting or any number of other special education matters.

You have a right to have an attorney at the IEP meeting, although I generally recommend that if you need an attorney, it can be best to develop an IEP strategy with your attorney but not necessarily have her attend the IEP meeting.  Costs are one consideration but attorneys at IEP meetings can often distract from the meeting’s true purpose and, further, can put everyone on guard so that a true, full and objective discussion won’t take place.

Attorneys can help you with due process or any dispute with your district.  In selecting an attorney ask your school district if they have a list, contact a local support group (e.g., many areas for example have a Learning Disability, Autism or other parent group), or ask other parents.  An attorney should be willing to talk to you over the phone for 10-15 minutes to see whether you have a matter that requires and justifies the cost.

If you hire an attorney to resolve a dispute with your school district, in some cases you will be reimbursed for those costs.

When selecting an attorney, ask others for their experience with those attorneys, ask to speak […]

IEP Hints

When you have an IEP planned think about the following steps/strategies:

  1. Make a specific list of what your child needs; do not use general terms, but be detailed, “Mary needs physical therapy 3 times a week, 45 minutes each session, 1:1 with the PT.”
  2. Be sure to highlight and bring to the IEP meeting written material that supports each item on your list; you probably have a lot so use post-its for easy access.
  3. Be sure to bring those people to the IEP, particularly experts who can make the argument for what you want for your child.
  4. Tell your school district in advance of the meeting who you are bringing and ask them who will attend for them.
  5. At the beginning of the IEP meeting indicate what you think are the key issues and that you want to be sure that all are covered.
  6. While you have the right to tape the meeting it is better to have someone take notes – tape recorders will put people on guard and you can’t always make out who is saying what.
  7. If you know school staff supports your list (some or all) be sure they are at the meeting and ask them their opinion if they hold back.
  8. Your note taker should especially write down when someone says something supportive of your list or something negative that seems not quite right, e.g., “we know Mary needs PT, but we don’t have enough in the budget to provide 3 times a week.”
  9. Often the district will have some taking notes which will become part of the IEP document; be sure to read it (take it home) and note anything that is incorrect or anything that was covered during the meeting and is missing from the Notes […]
By |September 21st, 2015|Hints / Tips, IEP|0 Comments
  • Related Services Related Services

    Related Services

Related Services

Under the IDEA (http://idea.ed.gov/) a child who is found eligible may receive special education and related services designed to meet his/her unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living. While special education services focus on specifically designed instruction, related services can mean any supportive service necessary to assist a child with a disability in benefiting from special education.

Related services include, but are not limited to: audiology, counseling, sign language, interpreting, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility, parent counseling and training, physical therapy, psychological services, including psychotherapy, to assist in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies, speech and language therapy and transportation.

The important thing to consider is that a related service can be any service needed by the child to benefit from his/her education and advance appropriately toward annual education goals, to participate in extracurricular and non-academic activities and to be educated with both disabled and non-disabled peers.  What constitutes “benefiting”? Our courts have ruled that a child in special education “benefits” if they progress commensurate with their abilities.  So a child may need a related service not only to avoid regression but also to improve.

It is the IEP team’s responsibility to identify any related services the child needs and include them in the IEP.  Goals can be written for related services just as any other special education service. The IEP must specify

  • When the service will begin
  • How often it will be provided
  • Where it will be provided

Related services can also be separately required to insure a child is given the opportunity to be in a regular classroom.