Do I Need a Special Education Attorney?

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If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors you will benefit from consulting with a special education attorney.

  1. academically struggling in school,
  2. taking several hours to complete homework assignments,
  3. has behaviors that impede learning or ability to access the curriculum,
  4. has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan,
  5. Receives accommodations/modifications at school through Response to Intervention (RTI) or Student Study Team (SST).

Hiring a special education attorney to review your child’s educational files is the first step in understanding if any of their educational rights have been violated. It is important to remember that a school district has many competing interests other than providing your child with an appropriate education.

These include among other things, preserving its limited resources. Therefore, it is important to have a special education attorney review your child’s case to determine if the school district is providing your child with the appropriate placement and services he/she requires to access and benefit from their education. Unfortunately, school districts commonly fall short of their legal mandate.

A qualified special education attorney is a great resource in your effort to determine what your child’s educational rights are and the school district’s obligations under the law. Many special education attorneys offer a free initial consultation which allows you to inquire about your case and interview potential attorneys. However, these consultations are limited in scope and a full records review of your child’s educational file maybe necessary.

Often times it is worth spending a little money to hire an attorney to perform a complete records review and case assessment. This will provide you with a clear understanding of your rights, the district’s responsibilities, and any pending violations by the school district. It is not unusual for a records review to uncover several inadequacies in a school district’s offer and/or implementation of services.

Relying solely on the school district to develop and implement the appropriate program and services for your child is risky. It is important to get an explanation of your child’s educational rights with regards to the program your school district is proposing or providing. It is common for school districts to offer limited support services based on its own inadequate assessments.

One of the first steps a special education attorney will take is to review your child’s progress and assessments. If your child fails to meet their annual goals and/or continues to struggle this is clear evidence that the services being provided are not appropriate.

Additionally, a review of your child’s assessments allows a special education attorney to determine if the assessment meets the minimum legal standard. If the assessments are deficient it is recommended that parents request a publicly funded independent educational evaluation (IEE) in all areas of suspected deficit. Obtaining IEEs provides parents the chance to have experts independent of the school district assess their child. With this new information parents can legally challenge the school district’s offer of services and request it provide the services recommended by the independent experts.

The education of your child is too important to leave to the school district alone. Unfortunately, with the school district’s tightening budgets many legally required services are not being offered. It has been proven that early intervention is the best way to remedy a student’s deficit areas. However, without the support of independent experts and a special education attorney, many students will never receive a meaningful benefit from their education.

In conclusion, I would recommend every parent who has a child struggling in school have a special education attorney perform a case assessment to determine if your child is receiving the services they are legally entitled to.