Jump to content
  • 0

When to involve a lawyer in the IEP process



What situations best fit bringing in a spec ed lawyer?

As background, I have an 8 yo daughter with a medical diagnosis of ADHD combined type, Autism, and Amblyopia.  She has an existing IEP with a primary eligibility for speech.  School has been supportive and has allowed us to add accommodations related to her ADHD.  This school year has brought about concerns from us as parents as we see the expectations overtaking my daughters skill sets.  We have seen negative changes in standardized test scores, grades, my child's attitude and in her behavior at home.  I called an IEP meeting a few weeks ago, and got approval for my daughter to be reevaluated under OHI and Vision.  This process is kicking off currently.  

We have a good working relationship with the teachers, and staff at my daughter's school.  We have had hiccups here and there in the past.  There have been periods of time where my daughter wasn't getting an accommodation (being pulled to the resource room to take tests in a small group environment.)  Or time when she wasn't getting pulled for social emotional work with the school counselor.  

That being said, a friend who works at the school said to me.... you need a lawyer.  So I'm curious to hear from people who have gone through this.  In what situations did you hire a lawyer?  
I am hesitant to hire a lawyer and have retaliation or a change in our relationship with school.  However, I also want to be able to get my daughter the help she needs.  
Thanks in advance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 1
  • Moderators
  • I have not gone through this as a parent, but as a special education attorney, I have experience in the reactions of school districts to the hiring of an attorney.  My situation is a bit unique in that I retired from the practice of law when my daughter was born so that I could be a stay-at-home mom, but a series of events in my life pulled me into the world of special education advocacy.   Because the IDEA requires the disclosure of hiring an attorney, I always tell my clients to inform the school district.  But I also tell them to downplay the attorney aspect - basically, that they were looking for an advocate and only via the initial consultation discovered she also had a law degree (which 99% of the time is the case).  Because you are correct - school districts do bristle at the hiring of an attorney, and if you hire one, it could very well escalate tensions and change your relationship with the school district.  Although there are situations in which the "attorney card" has to be played, I have rarely used it and always refer to myself as a parent advocate.  Although I don't know all the facts, it doesn't sound as if your situation has reached the point of needing an attorney.  You brought your concerns regarding this school year to the attention of the IEP team, and they have agreed to conduct a reevaluation.  I would give this process a chance.  If after the evaluation and follow up IEP meeting you are not satisfied with what the school proposes to address the negative changes occurring with your daughter, at that point you can request an Independent Educational Evaluation and it might also be time to hire an advocate.  But I would advise holding off on hiring an attorney until you have seen the school's evaluation, attended the IEP meeting, and requested your own evaluation.  In my opinion, attorneys should only be hired when parents have exhausted all avenues and resources available to them (including the hiring of an advocate).  Additionally, there is no reason to hire an attorney over an advocate unless you are wanting to sue the school district.  A good advocate can help you navigate you through the entire IEP process just short of filing for due process, which in the vast majority of cases is unnecessary.  If it does become necessary, you can hire an attorney then.
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1
  • Administrators

In my professional (advocate) opinion--you need a lawyer under 2 circumstances, maybe 3

  1. You and the district are in negotiations for a settlement agreement, and you did not hire a lawyer for this. I always recommend that you have an atty at least read your settlement agreement before agreeing.
  2. Your child's school experience is traumatic for them due to bullying and the district is not taking your concerns seriously.
  3. You and the district cannot come to an agreement on the IEP, and you need to file for Due Process.

In your case, it sounds like you'd be number 3, but you're not there yet. You have an IEP that you agree with, it's just not being implemented with fidelity.

I would go through this list of things before you get an attorney: https://adayinourshoes.com/school-not-following-iep/


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use