The Wrightslaw Way

to Special Education Law and Advocacy

The Wrightslaw Way random header image

If You Have a Dispute, Litigation is the Last Resort

07/17/10
by Wrightslaw

We requested that our son be put in an inclusion classroom at his home school. The school denied our request.

We don’t have an attorney. What can we do? Should we threaten litigation?

Never tell a school, or anyone else, that you plan to sue them. There are other ways to resolve parent-school disputes. Depending on the issue, you may continue to negotiate, file a complaint with the state, or request mediation. Litigation is the last resort.

In most cases, threatening to sue makes things worse …

Why? If you threaten to sue, the school may initiate litigation against YOU.

Schools initiate due process hearings against parents to get a Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge to issue a ruling that their program for your child is appropriate. If this happens, you will really be in the soup.

What should you do?

Prepare

Parents who are successful in resolving school problems do not threaten to sue. They play their cards close to their chests. They try other strategies to resolve their dispute with the school.  They do not initiate a due process hearing until they have exhausted other ways to resolve their problem.

If you do need to initiate litigation, you need to prepare for litigation. You are not prepared. You don’t have an attorney. You haven’t tried other ways to resolve your dispute with the school.

Consult with an Attorney

Most parents do not need to retain an attorney. They need a plan to resolve their dispute.

Consider a consultation with an attorney who has expertise in special education law and litigation. To find an attorney who represents the interests of children with disabilities and their families, check the page for your state on the Yellow Pages for Kids site.
http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/

We built the Yellow Pages for Kids site so parents and caregivers can get reliable information and support. When you visit your state Yellow Pages you will find many resources – attorneys, advocates, evaluators, tutors, programs, and support groups.

Also check the website for the  Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates for a list of attorneys and advocates in your state. http://www.copaa.org/find/index.php

Before you interview or retain an attorney or advocate, read these articles:

Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney to Represent Your Child’s Interests

Guidelines for Choosing a Lay Advocate in Special Education

Surviving Due Process

Before you consider litigation, watch the  Surviving Due Process: When Parents and School District Disagree DVD. The story is based on an actual case and will give you a good idea of what to expect in a due process hearing.
http://www.wrightslaw.com/store/dpdvd.html

Good luck!

Pete & Pam Wright

Print Friendly

Tags:   · · · · 13 Comments

Leave a Reply

13 Comments on "If You Have a Dispute, Litigation is the Last Resort"


diane
05/09/2013

I wish I would’ve never started down the due process road. My son was prohibited to attend. He was only receiving homebound instruction at 5 hours per week.

He had complicated trauma issues and aspergers and orthopedic dysgraphia.

he never finished grade school but got pushed on to high school.

i ran into Pete Wright in the hallway at a conference in michigan and realize that no matter what type of discrimination and exclusion my son is dealt, we both must remain cool and almost ingratiating.

i don’t thin the district attorney wil ever discharge himself even after I’ve withdrawn my due process, twice. once through losing my son’s therapy in the first mediation and then simply walking away from the second round after filing a complaint with the OCR in the dept of ed charging retaliation of removal of therapy services.

Arthur
05/07/2013

this is great website. it has helped me on many occasions.
Specially the Spanish sections that is so much needed with the population I work with
Thank you

Laura
05/07/2013

Here in Hamilton County in the state of Tennessee we need more advocates in our schools to stand up for the rights of our dyslexic children. When the regular education kids aren’t reading at grade level, how do we think the dyslexic children in ” Exceptional Education” are fairing? Tennessee children are being cheated out of an education and we have to stand up and let our elected officials know that !!!!!