Special education law recognizes that the cost of attorney fees may limit a parent from pursuing their child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”). Therefore, the law provides for the parent’s recovery of attorney fees if the parent prevails in the dispute. The “Attorney Fee Recovery” provision of the IDEA allows you to recover your reasonable attorney fees from the school district if you prevail at due process.

Advocates and attorneys play an important role to help ensure that your child receives an appropriate education. Although a special education advocate and a special education attorney have different roles, they often complement one another.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“504 Plan”) are two laws that provide for services and accommodations to eligible children with special needs. Both of these laws are implemented through a plan developed by the school district: The Individual Education Program (“IEP”) and the 504 Plan.

There is hardly any situation more stressful for parents than when their child is facing an expulsion. Therefore, I have included a discussion about school discipline to address both the special needs student and the non-disabled student.

Understanding special education law will help you understand how your child’s rights are protected. These cases are an illustration of how the law works. There are thousands of cases and the law might be interpreted differently in different areas of the country. But exposure to even as few as 7 important cases will help you become a better advocate for your child as you learn by illustration the legal standard of an appropriate education.

A good evaluation is critical to educational planning. A good evaluation will help explain the nature of the problem(s) your child may be experiencing, help identify your child's strengths and weaknesses, provide invaluable information about your child’s current needs, and offer guidance in choosing the services necessary to meet those needs. In short, a good special education evaluation is a critical tool in the Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) process.

The individualized education program (“IEP”) is the single most important document when it comes to your child’s special education program. In fact, it’s so important that numerous court cases refer to it as the cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act ("IDEA"). The IEP is an opportunity for you and your child’s teachers, school administrators, and service personnel to work together to improve your child’s education. Together, you and the rest of the team can create an IEP that will meet your child's unique needs and ensure that she receives the education she deserves.

As a special education advocate and attorney, I am frequently asked “What is the most important thing I need to know about my child’s IEP?” My answer is that the IEP must be individualized to meet your child's unique needs. But the only way to assure this is through parental participation.