Our Special Education Law practice involves helping families navigate the complex laws surrounding Special Education. We work with families to help in the following areas/issues:
Individuals with Disabilities education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that was passed to ensure that: (A) all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living; (B) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected; and (C) to assist States, localities, educational service agencies, and Federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities; (2) to assist States in the implementation of a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families; (3) to ensure that educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities by supporting system improvement activities; coordinated research and personnel preparation; coordinated technical assistance, dissemination, and support; and technology development and media services; and (4) to assess, and ensure the effectiveness of, efforts to educate children with disabilities.
Planning and placement team meeting (ppt)
We see our role as helping prepare you in advance of and during the PPT process. In Connecticut, the Planning and Placement Team reviews referrals to special education, determines if your child needs to be evaluated, decides which evaluations will be given to your child and determines whether your child is eligible for special education services. The PPT is composed of you (parents of the child) and various members of the school system, which often includes regular education teacher of the child, at least one special education teacher of the child, a school district representative, a school psychologist, the child (sometimes) and others.
individualized Education Program (Iep)
If your child meets the criteria for eligibility for special education, then the Planning and Placement Team must develop an Individualized Education Program within thirty days of the finding that your child is eligible for special education services. Then the PPT develops a written IEP to meet the specific needs of your child. The IEP will include at least the following: the child's present levels of performance; measurable annual goals; evaluation procedures; an explanation of the child's participation in a regular education setting; the special education and related services that will be provided to your child; the instructional setting that your child will be involved in; and, when services begin and end.
alternative and private school placement
At the core of the IDEA is the notion that qualifying children should receive their education in the least restrictive environment (often referred to as LRE). Sometimes, however, due to a child's disability, it may be appropriate for that child to be placed in an alternative educational program or placed in a private school. Often, such placement entails a substantial expense which may be the responsibility of the school board. In order to illustrate your child should receive alternative education or private school placement, it is imperative that the appropriate testing is done and qualified experts are involved to support that position.
section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 (504)
Known colloquially as a "504 Plan," Section 504 protects children with a physical or mental impairment that that substantially limits one or more life activities from discrimination. An appropriate 504 Plan typically should provide reasonable modifications, accommodations and services to such a child so that child's educational needs are as adequate as the needs of children without disabilities.
due process hearings
In the event parents/guardians and the school board disagree as to the appropriateness of, for example, a diagnosis or proposed education and services, such issues may be resolved at an impartial due process hearing. There, parents (with counsel, at their election) and the school board present evidence and argument in support of their respective positions.
A due process hearing is very similar to a court hearing. Each party and their respective counsel (if they are represented) present evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses and make arguments in support of their positions. At the end of the hearing, which may take several days or longer, an impartial hearing officer will make a decision on the substantive and/or procedural issues which exist in the matter. Such decisions often include whether a child was denied a free and appropriate education, whether the child has a disability which makes them eligible for special education and related services, and whether the education and services provided are appropriate in light of the child's disability.
There are very strict rules and regulations that must be followed in order to maximize your chances for success in a due process hearing.
The disciplinary of special education students is complicated. The proceedings will seek to determine whether the outburst/incident at issue is related to the child's disability (called manifestation determination). The proceedings may include a functional behavioral analysis and behavioral intervention plans. There are strict time constraints when disciplining special education students which parents should be mindful of (remember the 10-day rule).
post-majority planning and support
Through our representation of parents and children we've developed extensive experience with post-majority and special needs issues. To best serve our clients, we sometimes partner with other professionals to address issues such as special needs trusts, life insurance, and guardianship.