What do we actually do? The services we provide often revolve around recognizable documents, events, and discussions, such as:

  • Answer your questions
  • Explain the IDEA process
  • Request and review records
  • Prepare you for IEP negotiations
  • Review current and proposed IEPs
  • Attend IEP meetings and resolution sessions
  • Negotiate disputes with districts and providers
  • Prepare and file appropriate notices and complaints
  • Make referrals to skilled specialists and professionals
  • Document, prepare, and troubleshoot insurance claims
  • Execute estate planning documents to protect your family

Here’s how we can start working together.

But it would be short-sighted of me, or any lawyer, to think that these tasks constitute a representation. It’s easy to get lost in the details of advocacy and legal advice, when representation can look like nothing more than letters, meetings and hearing requests. Those tasks are all part of any parent’s journey, but one job for the attorney/advocate is giving parents perspective on the process so they can better influence their situation.

I think about services in three broad categories: first, improving the big picture for a family; second, paying attention to details; and third, laying a foundation for the future.

Here’s how these three categories are related:

  1. Improving the Big Picture — Major Goals
    • Advocate on behalf of the child and assist the parent, as a fully empowered member of the IEP team, to develop an appropriate placement for the child, whether by attending the meeting or preparing the parent
    • Educate parents about the rights of their child, and their rights to participate meaningfully in the IEP process
    • Introduce parents to third-party professionals who can assist with evaluations, assessments, and treatment
  2. Paying Attention to Details — Concrete Steps
    • Create IEPs that foster working relationships between school and parents to educate the child
    • Develop meaningful goals and objectives that assist parents and districts in measuring progress, both inside and outside the classroom
    • Introduce parents to the identification, evaluation, eligibility, and placement phases of the IDEA process and how their particular issues fit into the statutory scheme
    • Provide immediate references to behavioral specialists when the school lets a child’s behavior outshadow his education
  3. Laying a Foundation — Education
    • Give parents tools to help teachers learn about the child’s disability
    • Provide information about methodologies, accommodations, and modifications
    • Understand “free and appropriate public education”
    • Learn about the district’s testing requirements
    • Teach parents how to maintain good records for all purposes, from supporting their child’s education to building reimbursement claims from insurance, to documenting problems that might turn into disputes