Special Education Advocacy Lawyer
A special education advocacy lawyer can help parents resolve disputes and complaints with school districts. They may also assist with legal cases, such as personal injury and discrimination claims.
They must be familiar with governing state and federal laws, as well as changes to those laws. They also must understand the testing process and how to interpret the results of these tests.
When a dispute arises, parents often need help interpreting their rights and what they should expect from meetings with their children’s schools. An attorney familiar with special education law can help parents understand the relevant laws and negotiate with school staff.
For example, a school may refuse to evaluate your child for a disability and you may want the assistance of an advocate to argue against this decision. In these cases, a lawyer can assist with the preparation of individualized education program (IEP) and individualized family service plan (IFSP) documents and accompany parents to meetings or impartial hearings.
Sara has worked at New York Appleseed for almost a decade and is dedicated to the advancement of civil rights issues in our community, including those related to mental health, education, housing and the criminal justice system. She represents families in IEP and IFSP meetings, mediations and state and federal appeals. She also handles school placement matters for students in alternative education programs, including incarcerated youth, parenting youth and those receiving drug treatment services.
Education law covers a wide range of topics, including students’ rights to free and appropriate public education. It also encompasses student discipline policies and procedures, school stability and transportation for children in foster care, and more. Education advocates must be familiar with these laws in order to advocate effectively on behalf of their clients.
Special education advocates often work with families to help them understand how the school system works and how to navigate it. This requires them to have a thorough knowledge of education law, particularly the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
A special ed attorney in New York can help parents understand their child’s legal rights, whether they are trying to get their child evaluated for an IEP or need assistance resolving a dispute with a school district. They may also be familiar with laws like Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on gender. This is an important issue for nonbinary people, who can use the X gender marker when applying for benefits.
Good special education services are intensive and expensive, and the school district may be resistant to delivering them. If the district is uncooperative or does not provide the educational setting your child needs, you can file a formal claim or complaint with the state’s school board office.
An advocate’s negotiation skills can be vital to this process. They should be able to communicate clearly and effectively during meetings, defuse tension, and explain the legal issues involved in a dispute. They should also have strong research and writing skills for preparing requests, letters and other documentation.
Non-attorney advocates are not allowed to practice law, but they can work closely with attorneys who represent parents in educational and legal proceedings. They can assist with the preparation of IEPs, settle disputes and understand special education laws. They must have the ability to listen well, ask questions and negotiate solutions that benefit their clients. They should also be able to prepare and serve formal legal notices, documents and other materials to the school district.
Many special education advocates work for agencies that help children with disabilities. Others are independent contractors who charge parents by the hour for their services. Both types of professionals need to be familiar with federal and state laws pertaining to special education. They also need to know the policies and procedures of the school systems they represent or contract with.
The process of getting special education services for a child can be complicated and confusing. An advocate can help parents navigate this difficult process by providing them with information and assistance. They can also act as a liaison between the parents and the schools.
In addition to drafting and enforcing Individualized Educational Plans, special education advocacy lawyers often work on issues related to student discipline, due process hearings, and transition planning. They need to be able to manage their time efficiently, since they may be required to attend many meetings with the school and its staff.