What to Look For in a Special Education Attorney

special education attorney

There are two basic ways that a special education attorney can best assist you when trying to access the proper services that your special needs child is entitled to through the public school system. A special education attorney can advise and assist you, as needed, during the IEP development phase. Additionally, the special education attorney can act as your representative during IEP meetings.

School districts are often dealing with budget cuts which can impact the services your special needs child can access. If you feel like the school and/or school district are not responsive to your concerns, legal representation is certainly an effective and sometimes necessary strategy.

However, a special education attorney has specific expertise that can mean the difference between achieving the desired results and throwing away good money. Finding a qualified special needs attorney is the first step in securing the services vital to your child’s academic growth and advancement.

special education attorney

Begin With Referrals

The best place to locate a reputable professional will be from recommendations within your network. Talk to other parents in your community who’ve had success working with a qualified special education attorney. Obviously, you want to do your own due diligence to confirm that any referrals are currently in the same field of practice and in good standing in their profession. If a parent has successfully worked through special education issues in the school or district, then they may already have experience working with a special education attorney.

A personal referral will be able to give you a first hand report of the attorney’s ability in their case. You’ll have vital feedback on the attorney’s “bedside manner”. This will help you sort through a list of names and make a more effective decision.

special education attorney

Determine the Attorney’s Experience with Special Education Law

Special education law is a complex mix of state and federal regulations that is constantly changing. A special education attorney must be well versed in the most recent legal changes to best represent your child in disputes with schools and districts.

The legal teams representing the schools and districts understand the legal environment very well. You’ll want to ensure that a special education attorney you select is similarly prepared.

Additionally, an attorney who specializes in special education law will be able to determine the strength of your case and advise you whether to proceed or not. Working with an attorney is an expensive endeavor and you want to ensure that the money spent will lead to the best results for your child.

Make Sure the Attorney Understands Your Child’s Disability

An attorney that has represented children during the IEP development process or with a related dispute will likely provide the best service because they have experience. Again, the special education laws are complex. Working with a professional who best understands your child’s disability is most effective, as they have a better understanding of which services will be most beneficial.

Ensure that your money is spent with a professional who is well versed in the special education law so that you don’t waste precious time with mistakes or ineffective representation. The legal process can be slow. Work with a special education attorney with the requisite experience to resolve any issues that arise the first time.

Wondering What IEP Stands For? Here’s Your Comprehensive Guide to IEP’s

iep stands for

What IEP Stands For:

IEP stands for Individualized Educational Plan and is a documented plan developed to ensure that a child attending public schools with a disability identified under the law receives the appropriate specialized instruction and related services. The IEP defines how a child should be serviced in three main categories according to the Center of Parent & Information Resources:

  • General education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Nonacademic activities

This requirement began in 1975 with the passage of Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA). This law required school districts to provide specialized learning opportunities for students with special needs. The IEP is tailored to each student’s specific needs and is developed in conjunction with school officials and the child’s parents.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to determine if your child should have an IEP, what the IEP should cover, and how to be the best advocate for your child.

iep stands for

IEP Eligibility

There are 13 disability categories that will qualify a child for special needs instruction and resources through the public school system. These categories include autism diagnosis, visual impairment, and traumatic brain injury. The SpecialEducationGuide.com specifies the complete list of categories.

Parents seeking additional assistance for a special needs child must simply request an evaluation from your child’s teacher or the school’s principal. This will get the ball rolling.

All children with disabilities do not necessarily require an IEP, but if the evaluation determines that your child’s disability presents an impediment to the learning process, the next step will be to develop the IEP.

Developing an IEP

Once an evaluation determines that a child qualifies to receive the special instruction, the first step is for parents and school administrators to formally prepare the Individualized Education Plan.

The first IEP meeting must by law occur no more than 30 days after the evaluation. Each IEP must also be reviewed annually.

The IEP meetings should include the school’s special education teacher, a district administrator, a general education teacher, and a representative to interpret the data. Additionally, the child’s parents or legal guardian should absolutely attend.

By law, the IEP must contain specific components. As detailed on the US Department of Education’s website, the IEP must specify:

  • Current performance
  • Annual goals
  • Special education and related services
  • Participation with nondisabled children
  • Participation in state and district-wide tests
  • Dates and places
  • Transition service needs
  • Needed transition services
  • Measured progress

IEP’s are generally very long documents that contain details related to how each specific child’s specialized education plan will occur. Parents will know exactly what resources their child has access to and, through annual meetings, the progress and performance related to goals should be reviewed. This helps all involved ensure that the current plan is producing the best results for the child.

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Advocating for your Child

Parents who are not satisfied with the proposed IEP and/or placement do not have to provide consent. Parents should discuss any concerns with the IEP team and work toward an agreeable solution. However, if this step is unsuccessful, parents can seek additional assistance through an independent evaluation, additional testing, or mediation.

Parents can also file a complaint with the district if the above remedies come to no avail. Remember, you are your child’s most effective advocate. Ensuring that your child receives the appropriate specialized education is an vital responsibility in the IEP process.

A Guide to Services Provided at a Los Angeles Regional Center

Los Angeles Regional Center

The Los Angeles Regional Center offers a wide range of services for residents with developmental disabilities. The Regional Center is also an essential element in planning and coordinating these services, as well as ensuring those with developmental disabilities have access.

Everyone who uses the Los Angeles Regional Center services has access to an in-person centered planning team. Team members often include the person with developmental disabilities, their family, center staff and administrators, as well as all those asked to be part of the team.

This team is vital in the reception of services. The in-person centered planning team serves as the direct channel of support and monitoring. They ensure that those with developmental disabilities maintain their voice in all decision processes.

Eligibility for Services

In order to be eligible for the services provided by the Los Angeles Regional Center, a person must have been diagnosed with a disability prior to turning 18 years of age. This disability must be in accordance with Section 4512 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC).

Once eligibility is determined, after a free diagnosis and assessment, a case manager is assigned to assist in the planning of services offered by the Regional Center.

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Los Angeles Regional Center Services List

Information and Referrals

Regional Centers support those with developmental disabilities and their families with information regarding the diagnosis, assessment, planning, and monitoring of services the center provides. They also have a free referral process to ensure all have access to the services provided by the city, state, and government.

Assessment and Diagnosis

The assessment and diagnosis of anyone with a referred developmental disability is also free. The Regional Center provides this service in order to conclude if services are needed to improve quality of life and opportunity.

Counseling

Counseling services are also provided by the Los Angeles Regional Center for those with developmental disabilities and their family members. Support services for families are also offered by the center.

Early Intervention Services for at Risk Infants

Children between the ages of zero to 36 months at risk of having a developmental disability may also qualify for Regional center services. These criteria are listed in Section 95014 of the California Government Code, of the California Early Intervention Services Act.

Training and Education

In an effort to support those with disabilities and their families, Los Angeles Regional Center services include training and education on identified disabilities, as well as information for family members on the program and disability.

Individualized Planning

The Regional Center develops each service to fit the needs of each adult or child with developmental disabilities. They also tailor the individualized plan to better help the family support the needs of their disabled family member.

Lifelong Planning and Monitoring

The individualized plan for those who are eligible for services extends to lifelong planning and monitoring. The in-person centered planning team looks at short and long-term development needs, and monitors interventions to ensure maximum success on outcomes.

24 Hour Out of Home Care

If out of home care is needed to ensure the safety and well being of an adult or child with developmental disabilities, the Regional Center will facilitate these needs in accordance with state law.

Community Education

The Los Angeles Regional Center is also committed to community education about developmental disabilities. They continue to do community outreach, encompassing community assistance for the services they offer.

Nearly all services and support offered by the Regional Center are free. There are some costs shared for 24 Hour Out of Home Care for minors with disabilities. These fees are often adjusted depending on income, outlined by the Parental Fee Program.  

A Guide to the Steps of the IEP Process

iep process

There are normally seven unique steps for the Individualized Education Program, or IEP process. This process is vital, as it is required for children in public schools to receive special education.

Mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all public schools are required to develop an IEP for each child with special needs. This is effective for children aged three through high school academia.

The IEP process steps may vary, however, depending on the school district the child is in and the needs of the child. IEP remains one of the most essential elements in ensuring all children with special needs get the highest education opportunities available.

The following are seven steps to the IEP process for children with special needs.

Step 1. Pre-Referral to IEP Process

The pre-referral in the IEP process is the foundational step that begins to match a child’s disabilities with potential interventions. This is important, as it is the groundwork for the child’s education path moving forward.

What are the main objectives of the pre-referral IEP process?

  • First, the child is evaluated to determine the challenges he or she may have.
  • Next, an evaluation is made on the educational changes made.
  • There is then a review of the educational interventions.
  • Lastly, the development of the child is observed with interventions in place.

One of the main objectives in the pre-referral step is to find out if the child with special needs can adjust to the general classroom setting.

This step also has teachers take action, trying out different teaching approaches to help the child adjust to the general classroom setting. If challenges persist, the next step in the IEP process is referral.

iep process

Step 2. Referral

Referrals in the IEP process can come from a number of people in a child’s life. Parents, doctors, and a school nurse can all initiate a referral.

“Parents, teachers, a counselor, a doctor or anyone else who suspects a child is struggling can request an evaluation,” according to Understood.org.

These referrals can come at any point in a child’s life. The tell-tail signs that a learning disability may be present is if a child acts out continually in class, has poor academic scoring, or consistently disrupts class time.

Once a parent, doctor, or school system professional initiates a referral, the IEP process continues to the next step of identification.

Step 3. Identification

Once the referral has been made, the next step in the IEP process is identification. What exactly is identification? It is similar to the pre-referral process, but far more in-depth.

A special assessment, or evaluation is initiated to conclude whether or not a child has a disability that would require special education services.

“By law, the initial evaluation of the child must be “full and individual”—which is to say, focused on that child and that child alone. The evaluation must assess the child in all areas related to the child’s suspected disability,” according to the Center for Parent Information and Resources.

This step in the IEP process includes assessing all aspects of the child’s life, at school and at home. This helps determine the specific services the child needs. Parents, family members, teachers, educational professionals, and school psychologists are all part of this assessment.

The Center for Parents Information and Resources explained that, “The evaluation results will be used to decide the child’s eligibility for special education and related services and to make decisions about an appropriate educational program for the child.”

Step 4. Eligibility

After all information and data is compiled from the Identification step of the IEP process, it is used to determine the disability and special needs needed moving forward.

An IEP committee appointed by the school district handles these processes. The committee will determine what services or interventions are needed in order for a child with a disability to reach maximum educational growth.

The committee can also determine if the child is in fact in need of special needs services. They can in fact halt the IEP process here, returning the child back to the general classroom setting.

iep process

Step 5. Development

If the child is eligible for special needs services within the school system, the development of the IEP begins. Specialists, parents, school administrators, and educators are all gathered to make up the IEP team.

For many parents with a child recently diagnosed with a disability, the IEP process can be worrisome. Supplemental counseling for the family is often beneficial in this step in the process.

“Many of them would benefit from some type of family counseling. This is very important because they are going to play a big part in how the child with the disability will be able to adjust,” according to Kids Mental Health. “As the primary caregivers the role they play is huge and special training is often necessary and very helpful.”

During the development of the IEP, all resources needed to assist the child are discussed and placed into a very detailed plan of action. The child’s unique learning style is determined, as well as specific short and long term goals for the child’s educational advancement.

Step 6. Implementation

This step is when the IEP plan is put into place and executed. The needed accommodations are made for the child, including instructions and testing measures.

Parents are also not unsupported in this critical step either. There are normally a number of therapists, speech pathologists, and education/behavioral professionals on hand.

Step 7. Evaluation

Consistency is a hallmark when evaluating a child with special needs’ adjustment and progress after an IEP is implemented. Reviews are often mandated annually or every three years depending on the situation.

However, parents and teachers carry out the evaluation step in the IEP process more frequently than required. Since the overall goal is to determine the effectiveness of the IEP plan, continual assessment efforts are needed.

“Evaluation helps teachers to assess whether their teaching approaches are effective and to change or tune their practices accordingly,” according to the University of Kansas. “A well-researched and fully collaborative IEP will help students with disabilities to develop their capacities and to experience academic accomplishment–while benefiting the class by modeling and cultivating a more inclusive and differentiated educational experience for all students.”

If short and long terms are falling short, a revision to the plan is made to further assist in making the child’s educational growth a success.

Any IEP can be a long and worrisome process for parents and children. It is, however, an important aspect to any education system. All children deserve the chance to develop with their specific learning styles in mind. It is the dedication of parents and educators to facilitate these chances.

Why You Should Hire a Special Needs Lawyer For Behavioral Problems.

Special Needs Lawyer for Behavioral Problems

As parents we always want to make sure our children are getting the best. For parents of children with special needs, often that means making sure to have help from experts. Children with behavioral problems often gain some stigma, and it might be beneficial to hire a special needs lawyer to help make sure your child is getting all the help they need.

Hiring a special needs lawyer for behavioral problems can be especially beneficial in working to make sure your child’s educational needs are met.  Here are some ways a lawyer  can be beneficial for your child:

IEP Documents

The individualized education program (IEP) is meant to help children with special needs, such as behavioral problems, to receive the best educational experience. Hiring a special needs lawyer for behavioral problems can help make sure that your child is getting the most out of their education by helping you review their IEP. A lawyer should be well-versed in the latest laws and regulations when it comes to IEP documents. Thus, it would be best to create the program with a lawyer who knows the specific factors the program should address, as well as any updated information regarding IEP documents.

Acting As An Advocate

A special needs lawyer for behavioral problems can also work as an advocate for your child. In this way they can take some of the burden you might have when it comes to finding various programs and support for your child. As an advocate, a special needs lawyer works to make sure your child has the opportunity to get the help they need both inside and outside their school.

Legal Lingo and Paperwork

Hiring a special needs lawyer can also help you get through all the legal lingo and piled up paperwork that comes when applying for benefit programs. They will also know all the necessary programs that your child can apply for. Having a special needs lawyer can make such processes simple and easy for you.

Special Needs Lawyer for Behavioral Problems

Working As Mediator

As well as working as an advocate for your child, a special needs lawyer can also work as a mediator. If any issues should arise between you and your child’s school, a special needs lawyer can help ease the situation and keep things professional. They will be able to handle any issues much more objectively, so that your child is protected.

Connection To Other Resources

A special needs lawyer for behavioral problems can also be a door to other resources that would be beneficial and helpful for your child. Often these lawyers work closely with experts and professionals within the field, and they can connect you to them so that you can find the best resources available.

Overall, hiring a special needs lawyer for behavioral problems can help your child make sure they get the assistance they need. Since they can help take on a few of the roles you as a parent must play for your child, hiring a special needs lawyer is a great way to ease your burden.