Categorizing Your Dispute

The school year is now well underway.  It is a sad fact of life that as the school year rolls along, more and more disputes arise between parents and school systems regarding a child’s education.  For disputes that cannot be resolved directly between the parents and the school systems, it is sometimes necessary to engage an attorney.  When parents call my office, one of the first things I do is to categorize the dispute into one of four major categories (and then further sub categorize within those categories):

  1. Eligibility and Evaluations.  Does the child have a disability?  Is the child not making effective progress in regular education due to that disability?  Does the child require specially designed instruction or related services in order to access the curriculum?  If the answers to these questions are yes, then the child should be eligible for special education services.
  2. The Team process and IEP services.  Who makes up the Team?  Do Team meetings take place when and how they are supposed to according to the law?  Does the IEP properly reflect the special needs of the child?  Do the accommodations and services match what the medical professionals and recommended in the evaluations?
  3. Placement.  Where will services be provided?  In-district or out-of-district?
  4. Discipline.  Has a child been removed from their educational placement because of discipline?  Has this happened for more than 10 days?  Did the school conduct a Manifestation Determination and a Functional Behavioral Assessment?

Once you know where the dispute exists within this special education “lifecycle,” you can then better understand your rights and the school district’s responsibilities under the law.

The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal disputes.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

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