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  • Richard J. Murphy

When should you contact a special education attorney?

Your child is struggling in school but it can sometimes be difficult to determine if the school is providing the services and supports your child needs. The school personnel will tell you they are looking out for your child. But how can you be sure you are getting correct information?

This is true whether your child has been receiving special education for several years, had just been provided an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or you have recently become concerned that your child may have a disability.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) imposes obligations on schools in exchange for funding. If your child is on an IEP or is being evaluated, the school is supposed to provide you with a summary of your “procedural safeguards” that allow you to protect your child’s rights. This is typically given at meetings with the school. But this procedural safeguards notice can be difficult to get through.

Some of the rights parents and students have include:

  • the right to an evaluation for special education

  • an independent educational evaluation if you disagree

  • annual IEPs

  • participation in decisions about your child’s education

  • protection from certain discipline

  • filing a state complaint (investigated by the Arizona Department of Education for procedural violations such as missed deadlines)

  • filing due process complaint against the school (which involves a hearing seeking remedies for a school’s failure to provide for your child’s education)

If you are considering pursuing a state complaint or a due process complaint, it is a good idea to contact a special education attorney to help. While the IDEA allows you to pursue these rights, it is not advisable to do so on your own. The school will definitely have attorneys representing them to defend the complaints.

But you do not need to contact a special education attorney every time you have a concern with the school. Sometimes, a concern can be resolved by communicating with the school about it. If you do communicate with the school about a concern, it should be in writing such as by email.

If there are concerns regarding the IEP or an evaluation or you feel like the school does not appreciate the scope or extent of your child’s disability or is telling you something that does not feel right, you may need to contact a special education attorney to assist. You can have a special education attorney attend an IEP meeting with you but that may not be necessary.

As a special education law firm, the Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC, can assist with a variety of issues that may arise such as:

  • School refusing to evaluate your child

  • School not providing services written in the IEP

  • Disagreement over a school evaluation

  • Your child not improving even though he or she is on an IEP

  • Your child falling further behind general education peers

  • School not valuing your input as a parent

  • School not answering your questions

  • School telling you they do not have to provide accommodations or modify the curriculum

  • School threatening to expel or long-term suspend your child for behavior related to their disability

  • You do not think the school can meet your child’s educational needs

  • You are considering withdrawing your child from school

A special education attorney can address your concerns by confirming that the school is complying with the law or by suggesting steps to take to see if the school will make required changes. Other times, a special education attorney can let you know if perhaps the school violated the IDEA and denied your child their right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and that a due process or other complaint should be filed.

Some special education attorneys charge to consult with you. The Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC does not charge for an initial phone consultation. If the Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC determines that there may be other issues or concerns to pursue, we have a number of different financial options to allow you to work with a special education attorney to improve your child’s education.

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