Special education involves the interweaving of federal and state laws. If you have a child with a disability or suspected disability you may be asking yourself whether you need to hire a special education attorney to receive services from your local school district. There is no requirement that a parent or guardian be represented by an attorney. Each situation should be analyzed individually. Here are some factors to consider:
- BEING PROACTIVE HAS BENEFITS
In most cases the child with the disability will be enrolled in a school district for a number of years. Parents and guardians will be working with the school district to negotiate services for their child during those years. It is important that the parents or guardians and the rest of the IEP team have a good relationship. Going into an IEP meeting with reasonable expectations supported by the law will help parents and guardians avoid some common disagreements.
- SPECIAL EDUCATION ATTORNEYS KNOW THE LAW AND CAN GIVE YOU LEGAL ADVICE
An attorney who works in special education law knows the rights and limitations of the federal and state laws governing special education. Attorneys have special training to research and study the laws. They can help guide you through the process and advise you of the appropriate actions based on your child’s individual needs.
- ADVOCATES ARE NOT REGULATED BY LAW
IDEA states that the IEP team may include “individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child” at the discretion of “the parent or the agency.” At this time California law does not provide for regulation or licensing of non-attorney advocates. Therefore there are no standards of competence for non-attorney advocates.
- ATTORNEYS CAN TAKE AN OBJECTIVE LOOK AT YOUR CASE
An attorney will look at your case objectively. They can help you put together a reasonable plan for advocating for your child. They can also help you determine whether your child’s IEP or the decisions of the IEP team are reasonable.
- ATTORNEYS MAY BE RECOVERABLE
If you are the prevailing party in a due process hearing you are likely entitled to recover some or all of your attorney’s fees from the school district. (20 USC Section 1415(i)(3)(B) – (G); 34 CFR Section 300517; and CA Ed Code Section 56507(b)) Fees paid to advocates and expert witnesses are not reimbursable. Recovery of an attorney’s fees may be denied or reduced in certain circumstances so it is important that the attorney you choose understands the law regarding reimbursement of an attorney’s fees.
Representing a child with a disability as a part of an IEP team can be intimidating. You do not have to be alone in this process. I believe every parent should have the choice of being supported by an attorney. As such I keep my expenses and fees low. I would be happy to discuss your case with you and help answer any questions you may have.
If you would like to contact Kristin Springer, you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (925) 551-1041.
(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)