ADAMS ESQ Special Halloween Edition
Spooked by school district lawyers? Frightened by the thought of hiring your own special education attorney? Special education lawyers may seem scary and intimidating, but they are not ogres, vampires or monsters. In fact, many attorneys are moms and dads who were drawn to help other parents after fighting for the rights of their own children with special needs. If just the thought of hiring a special education lawyer makes your skin crawl, or if school district lawyers keep popping up at IEP meetings, here are a few things you can do:
- Understand your legal rights and those of your child. Federal special education laws were written and enacted to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. The law is intended to reverse decades of discriminatory policies, improve educational results, ensure equality of opportunity, and to guarantee full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for children with disabilities. Parents have extensive rights to participate in the decision-making process when it comes to developing individualized educational programs (IEPs). Understanding your rights, and responsibilities, can help you make better decisions on whether and when to seek legal help.
- Keep in mind that almost every document related to your child’s special education programming can have legal significance. Forms like Assessment Plans, IEPs and Notices of Procedural Rights, were probably originally written by lawyers. In the case of a due process hearing or appeal, these pre-fab forms are what lawyers may use as evidence. These forms can help or hurt your child’s educational achievement, and can impact a court decision–so make sure you understand them completely before you sign your agreement.
- Although rare, there are times where you just may need to fight fire with fire and hire your own attorney if your school district or charter school simply refuses to abide by the law. We suggest that parents consult with at least three different attorneys before deciding whether to hire one. Federal law requires state educational agencies to maintain a list of low or no-cost attorneys and advocates. Please check out our blog Fighting for Your Child, for more information on how to hire (and fire) a special education attorney.
- Finally, despite the many lawyer jokes, the practice of law is an honorable profession made up of dedicated and honorable people. Lawyers are bound by strict ethical rules such as zealously representing our clients and keeping them informed. We take classes on a regular basis to re-enforce these ethical guidelines. Special education lawyers are especially keen on maintaining respected, positive reputations in our community.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis and school closures, ADAMS ESQ’s social justice team is funding academic screenings at no charge to qualifying children with special education needs in California and Nevada. For more information on this program, contact us today at: firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us toll-free at: 1-800-785-6713. You also may want to read and repost our past COVID19-related blogs: “Forget About the Toilet Paper—Grab that IEP!”, “IEP Alerts for Parents” , “Special Education Teaching is Really Hard!”, “The ‘FREE’ in FAPE”, Doubling-Down on Special Education and Look Before You Leap! 5 Things to Know Before Leaving Your Child at School During a Pandemic.