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 to other clients of the attorney and ask others in the field the reputation of the attorney.