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Before a Consultation

The Consultation Process

About the Law

Contact Information


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I receive dozens of "crisis" requests for legal advice and help every week. I cannot provide legal advice or guidance until after I have reviewed the child's file. In most cases, the presenting problem or crisis is not as important as issues that have more long-range negative implications than today's crisis.

For these reasons, before I can answer what may seem like a "quick question," I insist that parents read our articles, become familiar with the law, and complete a detailed questionnaire. In more than half of all consultations, the "crisis question" is not the most important question that must be asked and answered. In addition to reviewing the questionnaire, I must review the child's file, including all educational and psychological test data.

Before a Consultation

Before requesting a consultation, you should read articles at our website, especially these:

Crisis! Emergency! HELP!
From Emotions to Advocacy
Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate

Get a complete copy of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a complete copy of the federal special education regulations, and your state special education regulations. Review portions of the law that are relevant to your issue.

Before the consultation, you are expected to own and have read relevant portions of our books, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd edition.

You should watch our DVD video of a special education due process hearing, Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree, Stephen Jeffers v. School Board.

During the consultation, I will discuss certain statutes and regulations from the special education law book and make recommendations about letters, tests, IEP goals, and other issues covered in the From Emotions to Advocacy book.

Consultation Process - Organize Your Child's File

Before a consultation (and before you send any material to us), you must organize your childís file.

Place all documents in chronological order, oldest document on top, most recent document on the bottom. Do NOT separate documents by type of category (IEPís, evaluations, etc.).

In the lower right corner of the first page of each document, lightly and neatly PENCIL in the date of the document such as 11/9/06 (DO NOT USE A PEN - the date may have to be erased later).  Do not write on any of these documents or in the margins, or underline or hi-lite with a yellow marker.

Do not send the file without the completed questionnaire.

The file that you send should include photocopies (NEVER originals) of all IEPs, evaluations, individual psychological and educational test data, school committee meetings, other relevant documents.

The physical size of the file you mail to us should not be more than two pounds.

Complete the Questionnaire

Before we can schedule a comprehensive telephone consultation, you must complete the questionnaire and checklist, and send the questionnaire, file, and a check in the amount of $395.00 to Pete Wright at P. O. Box 1008, Deltaville, Virginia 23043.

You can download the questionnaire from: http://www.wrightslaw.com/consult/questionnaire.pdf

State regulations: It is helpful if you include a copy of your state and local school districtís special education regulations when you send the file and questionnaire.

The Consultation

The consultation fee covers approximately three hours of time. This includes one to two hours to review the file and conduct brief legal or educational research, and the consultation which is approximately one to two hours long.

After the consultation, most parents find that they do not need to retain an attorney. After parents understand the legal issues, have copies of pertinent cases, and learn how to analyze test scores, percentile ranks, standard scores and IEPs, they can become their childís advocate. Parents must learn about effective negotiation and skilled letter writing. I will help you learn these issues.

Note: You may want to tape record the consultation so you do not have to take notes.

About the Law

While the Federal law is supreme and state statutes and regulations may vary from one jurisdiction to another, all states must provide at least the same Federal rights to all handicapped/disabled children.

Some state laws may provide for better services and more rights than the Federal statutes and regulations. Some local and state laws, regulations and case law may provide for very short statutes of limitations, may limit rights, and may require clear NOTICE from parents to school officials regarding areas of disagreement.

It is impossible for me to have working knowledge of the differences in all states and local jurisdictions.

To learn about your stateís laws and regulations, you will need to contact a local attorney who is versed in special education law or your stateís protection and advocacy office. You should also read your stateís Special Education Regulations and any rules and regulations provided by your local school district and keep abreast of changes in the law.

You should also subscribe to the Special Ed Advocate, our free online newsletter.

Note: My practice is limited to representing children in special education cases. I do not represent college students or adults with disabilities. Although I live in Virginia, I consult in many out-of-state cases, often with the parents and their counsel.

Links to Other Legal & Advocacy Resouces

Yellow Pages for Kids- A Wrightslaw website that is one of the most popular sources of listings for special education attorneys, special education advocates, therapists, and diagnosticians.

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates: http://www.copaa.org

Legal Research

FindLaw: http://www.findlaw.com

Versuslaw (fee based): http://www.versuslaw.com

Google Scholar, legal documents: http://scholar.google.com

Contact Information

Pete Wright, Esq.

P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043

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Last updated: 01/17/12

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