Jean Murrell Adams, Esq. and GPT-4
Mrs. Adams is a Princeton graduate. She earned her law degree from USC Law Center, served as a Federal Court law clerk and has practiced in prestigious Beverly Hills law firms and major motion picture studios. Since 2002, she has devoted her legal practice to representing thousands of children with special education needs—ushering cases to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and frequently writing and speaking on special education legal issues.
ChatGPT-4 was born yesterday.
When asked “How do I know when to call a special education lawyer?” we compared GPT-4 with Mrs. Adams’ 2020 article on this topic. Who gave the best guidance to parents?
|How do I know when to call a special education lawyer?
|You may want to consider calling a special education lawyer if you encounter any of the following situations:
· Your child is struggling in school, and you feel that the school district is not providing appropriate support or accommodations.
· The school district has denied your child’s request for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or has offered an IEP that does not meet your child’s needs.
· The school district has failed to provide your child with appropriate services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling.
· The school district is not following your child’s IEP, or is not providing the services and accommodations that are outlined in the IEP.
· You are having difficulty communicating with the school district, and feel that your concerns are not being heard or addressed.
· Your child has been suspended or expelled from school, and you feel that the disciplinary action was inappropriate or unjust.
· You are considering filing a due process complaint, or have already filed a complaint, and need legal representation during the hearing process.
A special education lawyer can help you navigate the complex laws and regulations surrounding special education, and can provide you with guidance and support throughout the process.
|Hiring an attorney should be the option of last resort. But, if you have requested help from your school district or charter school and have received conflicting information (or worse, no information at all) and your child is not making progress, it’s time to think about taking it to the “lawyer level”.
Consider seeking legal advice if:• The school district ignores your written request for assessment: Once you ask that your child be tested for special education, the school district must begin testing (with your permission) or send you a written notice detailing the reasons for its refusal to start this process. Although not required to do so, always submit your request for evaluations in writing and keep proof of submission for your records. Some schools will refer you to Response to Intervention (RTI) or a Student Study Team (SST). This is fine, however, neither process takes the place of the school district’s responsibility to timely test your child to determine if she needs special education and related services. Depending on the severity of your child’s needs, you may need to hire an attorney to enforce this right. If you have not received a response from the school district after several written requests, you may also consider filing a Compliance Complaint with your state’s Department of Education.• The school district continues to refuse to provide the accommodations and services that are included in your child’s IEP. Many parents work hard and collaborate with their school districts only to find that no one is following their child’s IEP. This often happens when students transition from middle school to high school or change placement mid-semester. Some teachers believe they are simply too busy to comply with various IEP requirements. Other teachers say that they treat all of their students as if they have an IEP, so they don’t need to provide special accommodations.• You are getting multiple calls to come and pick up your child–for any reason. Even if your child does not currently have an IEP, if the school is calling you to pick him up on a regular basis, they should be on notice that he may require special education services. Missing time from school is generally not the appropriate solution.• The school district referred you to SARB for your child’s truancy. If your child is missing school due to suspensions or mental or physical illness and the school district responds by referring you to a truancy board, contact an attorney for advice. Many special education attorneys will not actually attend a truancy hearing; however, they may be able to determine if the absence is disability-related and therefore your child should not be labeled as “truant”.• If your child is severely injured at school. Depending on the severity of the injury, most special education lawyers will not handle personal injury cases. There are very strict rules and short timelines when filing these types of complaints against school districts. However, a special education attorney or agency may be able to refer you to personal injury law firms who handle these types of cases.• Your child’s behavior is extreme and the school refuses to provide a behavior plan or appropriate supports. This is typically an urgent situation—particularly if your child is endangering herself or others. If the school district continuously ignores, suspends or even expels your child for her disability-related behavior, you may want to seek legal counsel immediately. There is a special expedited hearing that attorneys can request in order to address expulsions related to certain severe behaviors.• Your child does not meet IEP goals from year-to-year or goals are a “cut and paste” from prior year. It’s hard for parents to know what to request in order to make up for lost education, improper placement or skimpy services. If your child is continuing to perform poorly in school, even after years of special education, you may want to check with an attorney for guidance.
For example, the California Department of Education (CDE) has a process for determining if your school district is in compliance with special education laws. Upon filing of a complaint, CDE will typically launch an investigation and issue a ruling within 60 days. This is usually helpful if there is only one concern, for example failure to timely assess or failure to provide all of the student’s speech services.
• If you have filed a due process complaint or the school district has filed one against you, contact an attorney immediately. Parents should not attempt to handle these cases on their own, and recent court decisions prohibit non-attorney advocates from representing parents and students at hearing. Consider contacting the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) or the agency in your area that oversees due process proceedings. Request an extension of case deadlines so that you can locate an attorney to help you.
• Someone at the school district asks you to waive your (child’s) rights. Many school districts and charter schools are now using their own informal dispute resolution process. This can save time and benefit all parties. However, we have noticed a recent trend where school districts are fooling parents into signing binding agreements that offer little for the child in exchange for a waiver of all rights. Contact an attorney before you engage in informal mediation so that you can get a “reality check” on what you can and should expect from the process.
Missteps can result in the loss of months or even years of specialized education and services. While GPT-4 did a decent job of offering general information, your child with special needs deserves the insight and guidance that only experienced attorneys can provide. If you think you may need a special education attorney, contact your state department of education for a list of agencies and attorneys in your area. California and Nevada parents and caregivers may want to contact ADAMS ESQ at: 1-866-4SpedLaw or visit us at www.AdamsEsq.com.