A Beginner’s Guide to the Special Education Legal Process #2: Understanding Your Case



This article is a summary of the podcast Special Education Matters: Understanding Your Case, with host Michael Boll and CSNLG lead attorney Richard Isaacs. The podcast can be found here. This conversation focuses on understanding your case and the steps that are taken once you’re involved with an attorney.

What happens after a family decides to work with CSNLG?

The next step is to complete a file review. We’ll request the complete file from the school district and any other important documents.

Everything is carefully looked over. This includes:

  • Assessments
  • Individualized education plan (IEP)
  • Goal/progress
  • Grades

Why this is done

  • This is done so we can find out who the student is and understand what might be missing in the file.
  • We may discover early legal issues: if the district has procedural violations, implementation issues, etc — these are things that can be leveraged later.

After the file review

  • This is when another conversation is held between families and us.
  • After reviewing the file, we have a better understanding of the situation. We can discuss and present solutions. For example, this might include calling for another IEP meeting, a district assessment, an outside assessment, and other long term goals.

When would it be appropriate to get an outside assessment?

  • There may be problems with the district’s assessment. It may be wrong or unsuitable.
  • Parents have the right to disagree with district assessments and request the district to fund an outside assessment (an Independent Educational Evaluation, or IEE). The district has only two choices when an IEE is requested. It can either fund the requested IEE or file for due process against the family to defend its assessment.

What happens if the school district says no and defends their assessment?

  • If a district decides to defend their assessment, they must file a due process complaint against the family to defend their assessment.

How long do assessments take?

  • The assessment process can take several months.
  • When the school district starts an assessment, they have 60 days to complete  and review that assessment at an IEP meeting. A privately funded independent assessment has no time restriction and as such, often  takes longer. In a best case scenario, it takes about 2-4 months.
  • If the District is funding the IEE this can delay the completion of the assessment by several months.

This summary is part of our complete Beginner’s Guide to the Special Education Legal Process.


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