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