“California Regional Centers are nonprofit private corporations that contract with the Department of Developmental Services to provide or coordinate services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. They have offices throughout California to provide a local resource to help find and access the many services available to individuals and their families.”

Ok, so that is from their website, but you might wonder what it is they actually do, are they any good, who has access to them and for how long.  

Our sensory system has a profound impact on our everyday experiences and how we react to our world. Maybe a noise is annoying, a light too bright or an article of clothing feels just not right. For children with special needs such as autism, ADD and more, sensory struggles may be magnified to the point where they have a significant impact on their perception of the world. What may seem just fine to us, may be threatening to them.

Understanding the sensory system and its roll in a child’s life is what I talk to Dr. Susanne Smith Roley about today. We cover a lot of exciting material including sensory seekers, sensory avoiders, body awareness and much, much more. By the end of this podcast you may find yourself having a good understanding of terms such a proprioceptive, vestibular, temporal and spatial awareness. Wow!

I don’t know about you, but the thought of hiring a lawyer for any dispute makes me go into a near panic. Right away I start to think about just how much it is going to cost? This is especially true for parents like us who have a child with Special Needs. Is it worth the cost to hire an attorney to advocate for better or additional services for your child? Would it simply be better to take those costs and use them for services or therapies out of pocket?

 

Richard Isaacs, Attorney and CSNLG Founder

With the start of the 2017-2018 school year well on its way, I have noticed more due process filings by school districts against families.

A due process hearing means either party, in this case, the districts, are asking the court system to intervene and make a ruling.

While this might sound alarming at first, it is often legally necessary for school districts to take such drastic actions. The law is clear that when parents request public funding of independent educational evaluations (IEE’s) the school district must fund the assessments or file for due process to show their own assessments are appropriate. The legal standard for assessment compliance is low and the courts are routinely finding district assessments comply with the law.

As such, school districts are filing more often.

Interestingly, and unfortunately, districts sometimes file for due process even when they know their assessments are not defensible. There is a clear strategy for them here: It helps them enter into a settlement agreement to fund the requested IEEs and thereby insulate themselves from liability. They add waiver language to the proposed agreement.

School districts are also filing more often to defend the appropriateness of their IEP offer. While the law merely states the school district may file to enforce its IEP, court decisions have recently come out holding districts liable if they do not file for due process. The ruling expects them to seek judicial intervention in overriding a parent’s lack of consent to necessary educational services. In other words, if parents do not fully consent to the proposed IEP, and the District believes the services are necessary, they are required to file for due process.

This is an unfortunate development in the law because it now elevates an IEP dispute to the litigation level. Parents are practically forced to hire an attorney to defend against the school district’s lawsuit.

Sadly, a recent court case has also called into question whether families can be represented at the administrative court level by educational advocates. For families who could not afford an attorney and advocate is a much less expensive option.

This appears to no longer be the case.

It is strange that the state of California is taking such an aggressive stance against parents who have children with special needs. With the increased filings against families, the shrinking of options parents have to defend themselves, California is moving backward.

If your school district ever files for due process against you it is important to seek legal advice on how to move forward. Regardless if you hire an attorney or not, you should at least contact an attorney who specializes in special education law and obtain a clear understanding of your rights. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) has a list of low cost and free attorneys you can use to find a law firm that you feel comfortable working with.

As always, we are happy to help too.

 

An independent educational evaluation (IEE) may be requested by parents when they do not agree with a district’s results or it is not seen as comprehensive enough.

As a parent, you have the right to request an IEE at the district’s expense if you do not agree with their evaluation. Once you have made the request the district has two choices: to approve and fund the evaluation or to deny it and file a due process complaint against you.

Here are a few IEE facts that we want you to be aware of:  

  1. If your district approves your request for an IEE, they cannot limit your choices. Most of the time districts will send you a list of what they consider “approved” assessors and a maximum amount they will pay for the evaluations.
  2. This list is merely a suggestion by the district and we do not recommend using assessors on this list. CSNLG has a great list of assessors who provide helpful and comprehensive evaluations. 
  3. A district cannot give you an expense cap in order to prevent you from obtaining an evaluation from a qualified assessor. Although there is no law preventing districts from trying to place these limits on you, it is possible to challenge them to provide you with the best evaluation possible. 
  4. Recently we have come across a new limit being given to parents, a restriction regarding the mileage between the assessor and the district. There is also no law to limit the location of a provider and you may consider challenging this limit if it occurs.
  5. An IEP must consider these evaluations and the comments and recommendations of the evaluator. The independent assessor typically has a more comprehensive evaluation than the district assessor. More times than not these evaluations bring to light other areas of need that had been missed with more vague evaluations. 

Fighting a district’s limitations may be stressful and draining. It is always best to consider the trade off’s between accepting a district’s limits and the effort it will take to overcome it.