Consultations

This page describes our limited consultation fixed-fee offering, normally delivered by telephone conference call.

To take part, you have to (1) prepare your file, (2) complete a questionnaire (ASD intake ltr 9-Aug-09) about your child and your concerns, (3) send me the file, questionnaire, and payment, and (4) coordinate a time for the review with me. More details are below.

Is a consultation right for me?

This consultation may be appropriate if you:

• Have some familiarity with the issues you are facing
• Want a second opinion on your chosen course of action
• Are unsure about what the relative importance of the issues is
• Are familiar with your child’s records and their significance
• Have not organized your child’s records but want us to provide that additional service
• Are seeking to frame the likely issues before deciding on a course of action

In these circumstances, a discussion about overall strategy, issue separation, and general quality of proof can be helpful to you because you have time to act on advice and improve the situation as a result of having clearer goals and a more refined understanding of your situation.

This consultation will probably NOT be appropriate if you:
• Are unfamiliar with IDEA, special education, or IEP issues
• Have a complaint about abuse, restraints, or any dangerous behavior or safety issue
• Have questions about the subject-specific advice of your independent evaluators
• Are already involved in a due process hearing
• Have active legal representation
• Want an opinion about the skills of your active advocate, lawyer, or other expert
• Have only state-specific legal, regulatory, or administrative questions
• Want me to predict the outcome of your case
• Have a limited ability to communicate in spoken English (you may, of course, tape record the call so that you can review it afterward).

In these cases, you should not seek this limited consultation because I can’t answer most of these questions for you or, in the case of abuse, you need real, active help right away from someone local who can take immediate action.

Are there alternatives to a consultation?

Yes. I regularly seek to meet with parents and answer general information questions every week in various locations local to me. However, it is not possible in an open Q&A or at a presentation to answer specific questions for several reasons. I cannot give you quality legal advice or guidance without having reviewed the child’s file. Even when there appears to be a “crisis” brewing, the crisis issue may not be the most important problem to be addressed, like treating a symptom rather than the disease.

I provide several avenues for general advice and questions: twitter, using the #iepquestion hashtag, questions emailed to me for the ASDworld.com open FAQ, and my roving office hours. Because I provide these forums for general questions, I use a different process for answering specific questions about your child’s situation. Before I can answer your questions, I need to become familiar with your situation through your child’s records, the history of his or her special education journey, and your answers to a set of questions to help us both focus on the key issues that concern you.

Preparation

Preparing the file

You will save time and money by organizing your child’s files before sending them to me. Here is the short version of the process:

  1. ONLY send copies or scans.
  2. ONLY send copies or scans.
    • (Yes, you read it twice; it’s that important: you do not want to lose the records that support your case.)
  3. Put the documents in reverse chronological order, with the oldest document on the bottom of the pile and the newest document on top.
    • (Note: with your files organized like this, you know that you can always just add new documents to the top or front and keep your filing simpler.)
    • It is not necessary to organize the files by anything other than date. Don’t separate IEPs, evaluations, doctor’s letters, or correspondence.
    • You should certainly consider making double-sided copies to save on the amount of paper in your package of documents.
    • Do not mark directly on documents. If you want to highlight a document, use a post-it or other removable note and write on that.
    • Do not separate documents except to make copies, and then re-join with a paperclip, binder clip or rubber band. Do not re-staple documents.
    • If you have emails that are relevant, you should save them with attachments and put them on a flash drive or CD along with any scanned documents. (If you had to, you could print them but that would waste paper; better to note them and coordinate emailing them to me.)
    • Documents that you created, such as spreadsheets evaluating progress on goals and objectives or presentations comparing placements, should ideally be part of your file and in the same reverse chronological order. If you send electronic versions, please include the relevant date in the name of each file to assist me in ordering your file appropriately.
    • If you have recordings of IEP meetings, you should again only send copies, not originals. Digital copies are strongly preferred. I will generally, however, not review all recordings except for those that you tell me bear on an important issue (such as a false statement at a particular meeting or the meaning of something that was said there). It’s just too lengthy a process to review every recording without an additional expense for you.
  4. If you have a suitable scanner, scan the documents after organizing them so that the files will be easier to sort and review.

Preparing yourself

To make the most of the discussion portion of the consultation , you should be familiar with the materials you are sending in the file. (While organizing the file can seem like an opportune time to read the documents, reading while you’re organizing, indexing, and copying will make the process go much more slowly. You should probably wait until after you send the documents to start reading them.)

You should also strive to educate yourself about the issue you’re most concerned with, such as evaluation procedures or IEP timelines. Hopefully you will be able to identify in advance some of the references that will be helpful to you, such as “plain language” rights booklets published by your state department of education or copies of your state’s version of IDEA and its special education regulations, as well as the federal versions of these documents. (You can start searching this list of state-specific resources.) You should look for and read and re-read the portions of these laws that relate to your specific issues and concerns.

There are some books that you can read in advance as well to educate yourself. This self-study may help you get more out of the conference call:

This preparation may enable you to more easily fill out the questionnaire and thus get more value out of your consultation.

Send these three items to us:

  1. Your child’s file.
  2. The completed questionnaire (PDF).
  3. A check in the amount of $300, payable to “Richard J. Colosimo”
  4. OPTIONAL: You may send copies of your state, and any local, special education regulations.

The address for delivery is:

PO Box 508
Ridgewood, NJ 07451-0508

The Consultation

The fixed fee for the consultation will cover about four hours of time, including about 2-3 hours to review the files and conduct some brief research as well as the consultation itself which is 1-2 hours.

The primary goal for the consultation is to frame a decision for you by doing these things: (1) help you identify the real problem, (2) develop alternative courses of action, and (3) learn what steps you need to take before making a decision or taking action. You may, of course, record the conversation so that you do not have to take notes.

The goal for the consultation is not to convince you to retain me or seek additional services. In many cases, the problems faced by parents have not reached a stage where a lawyer is necessary. In those instances, we can focus on what you can do to push toward a negotiated solution to the problem.

Understanding the legal background

As you should know by now, the educational rights for your child are governed by federal laws (such as IDEA 20 USC 1400) and regulations (such as 34 CFR 300) as well as state-specific laws and regulations (see these state-specific resources). Some matters are left by the federal law to the state to decide, such as certain timelines and procedures. In some cases, states provide MORE protections or services for children, while in other cases states provide relatively STRICT rules that do not benefit children as much. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to know all of the differences for your school district and state from the federal law and rules.

To help bridge this gap, you should review the specific laws and regulations for your state BEFORE seeking a consultation, since you may find the answer to some questions there. Alternatively, you may have to consult a local attorney or advocate who is knowledgeable about special education law and practice in your state. (Note: usually this step follows a consultation in which we together narrow the issues, making it easier for a local lawyer to represent you.)

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