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.

Steps to Consider before Contacting a Special Education Attorney

Steps to Consider Before Contacting a Special Education Attorney

Having a child with special needs can be trying, but as a parent, you likely believe that your child’s school is doing what they can to help. Unfortunately, there are times when a school just doesn’t pull its weight when it comes toeducating special needs children.

When it becomes apparent that your child isn’t receiving the experience that they need, it may be time to consult with a special education attorney; the only question is: when is enough enough? Going through the process of interviewing and–eventually–hiring the candidate right for your situation can seem like a daunting task, but it’s vital to the effectiveness of your choices to keep in mind just what a special education attorney can do. They can be equal parts friend, mentor, advisor, and bodyguardI. n the end, they stand with you and your family.

Before you hire a special education attorney, use these tips to try and help your child get the education they deserve.

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Talk to Your Child

Before you do anything, it’s important to talk to your child whenever possible about conditions at school. In some cases you may be able to work with your children to simply change their situation or understand more about what’s going on.

Of course this may not work with all children in special needs classes, but if you can have an open dialogue with your child about their education you should attempt to do so. Some problems – ones your child definitely cannot resolve even with your help – don’t require this step.

Speak with Your Child’s Teacher

Problems at school for your child often begin in the classroom. While many special education teachers do everything they can to help students, they do make mistakes and there may be times when they are not aware of your child’s particular learning difficulties.

Taking time to talk with your child’s teacher may help clarify a problem, and see that it gets special attention in the classroom. You’ll need to set a meeting with your teacher and request progress reports in the future to make sure changes have been implemented, especially if you feel your child wasn’t getting proper attention before.

Work with School Administrators

Serious problems with your child’s education may not need the help of a teacher and there may not be anything that they can do. Examples include overcrowded classrooms, or simply poor instructors who aren’t working properly with your child or other children in class.

When this happens you’ll want to go right to your child’s school’s administrator. Explain your problems and let them know that if they aren’t resolved in a timely fashion that you will have to move your child and discuss your issues with the school board.

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Contact the School Board

Contacting the school board should generally be your last resort to correct a situation in your child’s school. These types of meetings should be reserved for major issues that even school administrators may not be able to work out – like teachers not showing up for classes orpoor treatment of students.

It may take some time to get a meeting with your child’s school board, so make sure you let them know you want one as soon as you are aware of a serious problem.

Inherently, school teachers and administrators desire to teach. They want to help children to see their full potential. In some cases, however, this isn’t the case. A special education attorney can help your special needs child get the education that they deserve using the world continuing education alliance. While most school administrators and teachers want to do a good job there are some bad eggs and just plain bad systems that need to be dealt with.